CONCORD, CA Ð AUGUST 26: Quarterback Christian Aguilar #2 of Clayton Valley Charter reacts to being unable to covert a fourth down scoring opportunity in the final minute of the fourth quarter against Salinas in a high school football game at Clayton Valley Charter High in Concord, Calif. on August 26, 2022. (Douglas Zimmerman/Special to the Bay Area News Group)
Clayton Valley quarterback Christian Aguilar reacts after the Ugly Eagles’ season-opening loss to Salinas on Aug. 26. (Douglas Zimmerman/Special to the Bay Area News Group) 

A month from now, Clayton Valley might look at its 1-3 start and not recognize what it sees in the mirror. The Ugly Eagles have next week off, then visit Jesuit-Carmichael on Oct. 1 before opening East Bay Athletic League Mountain Division play a week later at Amador Valley.

There is time to turn things around.

Given the scores, Clayton Valley isn’t that far away. The Ugly Eagles have lost three games at home, all by a touchdown or less, two to teams that have yet to lose, Salinas and Del Oro-Loomis.

Longtime coach Tim Murphy has never had a start like this one since he took over the Clayton Valley program a decade ago.

In fact, the last time the Concord school opened with three losses in its first four games was 15 years ago, when the Ugly Eagles started 0-3 on their way to a 4-6 season in 2007.

Murphy points to a young defense and his softening coaching style as reasons for the slow start this season.

Two weeks ago, the Ugly Eagles traveled to North Las Vegas and routed Canyon Springs 42-6.

That following Monday, the team had 20 absences from practice.

Five days later, the team lost at home to Turlock 35-33, a surprising outcome given that the visitors were 1-3.

But maybe not a surprise, given Clayton Valley’s practice attendance earlier in the week.

“A couple of them were legitimately sick, but 20 absences at Clayton Valley, absolutely unheard of,” Murphy said. “I just said, ‘Look, man, too many of us are living on the reputation of what we have always done. Every year we earn it. It’s not just given to us.’

“The blame goes on me for not being hard enough on these guys. I’ve tried to do it the nice-guy way this year, and they just can’t handle it. It’s not their fault. It’s my fault, and I really mean it.

“This bye is way needed. This is a team that just needs to get refocused. We have talent. We’ve really got a lot of talent. We’ve just got to get back on track.”

— Darren Sabedra

SHP: Receivers shouldn’t be overlooked

Sacred Heart Prep runs a precise offense based on a punishing ground game. The drives can often seem like an unending parade of five-yard runs as the Gators work their way downfield.

But when Los Gatos visits on Friday afternoon, don’t be surprised if the SHP passing game plays a key factor in what Gators coach Mark Grieb called the biggest game of the year. 

“I can’t see the future, but when you think of Los Gatos and how well coached and how disciplined they are, that game stands out,” Grieb said.  

Carter Shaw, called a freak athlete by Grieb and the son of Stanford coach David Shaw, started SHP’s 35-7 win over Archbishop Riordan with a long touchdown reception. He ripped the ball from two defenders in a play that left opposing coach Adhir Ravipati impressed. 

“Carter Shaw gives them a tall and long guy that they haven’t traditionally had on the outside,” coach Ravipati said. “They did a great job of scheming up our defense too.”

The passing game is more than just Shaw on the outside, though.

Brandon Hsing, Tyler Wong and Luke Maxwell are capable of running routes and making a play when needed, and running back Andrew Latu is a great option when quarterback Mitchell Taylor has to check it down or throw screens. 

“There’s ups and downs like there is with every team, but they’re a hard-working group,” Grieb said when asked about his team’s pass catchers. “You saw a glimpse of that today. When their number is called, they’ll make a play.” 

Those aforementioned receivers can all make a play, but when Sacred Heart Prep needs the play of the game against Los Gatos, it would be wise to bet that Taylor will be looking at Shaw. 

“Carter is 6-3 and has long arms and can go after the ball. I thought it was a pretty good matchup for Carter (against Riordan’s corners), but he got that one for sure.”

— Joseph Dycus

Heritage: What’s fueling unbeaten record?

“All in.”

For the Heritage Patriots, those words echoed throughout off-season workouts. Those words were plastered on banners around the weight room at the Brentwood school. Those words were stitched on the back of the shirts the players wore.

Those two words have become synonymous since Dave Fogelstrom took over the program in 2020. The school had won three games in two seasons before the coach’s arrival. He wasted no time incorporating the new “All in” motto. 

Through four games this season, it’s clear that Heritage is all in. 

The team is off to a 4-0 start and has outscored opponents 177-34. The Patriots have a chance to go undefeated in non-league play when they travel to Union City to play James Logan on Friday night.

Fogelstrom said this team has the potential to be the best in the program’s 17-year history. Even better than the 2010 team that beat fellow Bay Valley Athletic League member Pittsburg in the quarterfinals of the North Coast Section Division I playoffs. 

To this day, that has been Heritage’s only victory over the powerhouse Pirates.

“This team doesn’t have any ‘me’  guys on it. Everybody just wants to win,” Fogelstrom said. “They can be the best team in school history. They believe me, and I believe in them.”

– Jesús Cano

Tennyson: Halftime snacks ignite rally

Tennyson’s slow start on Friday night seemed odd for a team that put up basketball-like points against Mt. Eden the previous week.

But against a good Hayward team, Tennyson coach John Pangelina — yes, the coach — was a little slow during the first 24 minutes of an eventual 29-28 win.

After the game, Pangelina gave a surprising reason for his shaky performance.

“I almost passed out because I had a crazy busy day and hadn’t had anything to eat,” Pangelina said. “The first half I was out of it. After that, people brought me snacks and fluids, and then I was back into it.”

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