No. 6 Los Altos struck first, but couldn't hold down 7th-seed St. Francis SCP of Watsonville, dropping its Central Coast Section Division V semifinal 56-35 on Friday evening. The Sharks (9-3) face top-seed Aragon (8-4) in the Saturday, Nov. 27 title game at Westmont at 1 p.m.
The Eagles (8-4) had youth at the helm in sophomore Jimmy Flynn, who was 14 of 26 for 234 yards with two picks.
“All the guys who are coming back next year are going to remember this experience,” Flynn said. “Young guys like me will come in ready to go. It starts in the summer. We're going to take this to heart and come out stronger next year. Our seniors left it all out on the field and I love them for that.”
Flynn threw for 187 yards in the first half, going to work through the air on the first possession. Flynn found Cole Rafferty for a 13-yard gain. Rafferty caught six balls for 113 yards, adding an acrobatic interception at the goal line to thwart a potential Sharks touchdown.
Flynn tossed to Zach Fagin for 16 more yards. However, the drive stalled at the 21-yard line when Los Altos could not convert a 4th-and-3.
Los Altos' second possession fared much better, scoring when Min Park picked up a fumbled snap, running it in for a 23-yard TD at the 2:13 mark of the first quarter.
The Sharks countered with its vaunted ground game, led by running backs Johrdan Garibay and Nehthaniel Madrigal-Hernandez. Garibay had 185 yards on 14 carries, scoring on runs of 1, 12 and 45 yards. Madrigal-Hernandez was a load, finishing with 157 yards on 10 attempts, tallying on 1, 2 and 35 yards.
A 5-yard touchdown run by Greg Schumann put the Eagles up 14-7 midway through the second quarter.
Tied 14-all, Fagin wowed the home crowd with an electric 95-yard kickoff return. Fagin took the ball up the middle, then cut to his right.
Los Altos took a 28-21 lead at the half when Fagin grabbed a pass from Flynn for a 16-yard score with 16.3 seconds left on the clock.
Then the rain began to come down, fittingly breathing life into the Sharks. They outscored the Eagles 35-7 after the intermission as the Los Altos defense began to bog down. It was 35-28 after a nice grab in traffic by Rafferty, good for a 29-yard TD reception.
“Early on we could stop them, but we couldn't stop them in the second half,” Los Altos coach Dave DeGeronimo said. “Their ground game is something special. We had a good plan going in, but we didn't have the depth. We ran out of bodies. St. Francis is a heck of a team.”
Rafferty, Park and massive tackle John O'Sullivan III are seniors, but DeGeronimo's cupboard won't be bare entering next season.
“We had a young team from the start,” DeGeronimo said. “We have a lot of sophomores and juniors. We tried to get better every week. We're going in the right direction.”