ALBANY, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 19: Pinole Valley's Larry McDonald (2) runs the ball against St Mary's High in the first half of their North Coast Section semifinal football game at Saint Mary's High School on Albany, Calif., on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

ALBANY – Senior running back Larry McDonald lined up adjacent to Pinole Valley quarterback Maddox Wu, took the handoff, read his blocks and then got positive yardage. This sequence occurred nine times on Pinole Valley’s opening drive, and ended with McDonald slipping between blockers for a six-yard touchdown.

“I’ve got a good line, and I just trust them,” said McDonald, who finished with 148 yards on 30 carries. “I feel like nobody can tackle me too.”

Pinole Valley’s 20-7 upset victory over the NCS Division VI’s top seed St. Mary’s wasn’t achieved by unloading a salvo of 50-yard touchdown runs and long bombs to deep receivers. Instead, coach Troy McConico’s team ended the 11-0 Panthers’ season by calling four-yard run after four-yard run.

ALBANY, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 19: Pinole Valley’s Larry McDonald (2) runs the ball against St Mary’s High in the first half of their North Coast Section semifinal football game at Saint Mary’s High School on Albany, Calif., on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group) 

How the Spartans went about their business was no surprise after the first drive, but St. Mary’s could not stop the predictable when faced with crushing blocks and a bulldozer-esque Pinole Valley line. The Spartans ran for 190 yards on 46 carries, and only three of those totes went for negative yardage.

“They really were surprised by how physical we were,” junior lineman Leonardo Cruzado said. “We’re Spartans, and we never gave up on any of the plays.”

ALBANY, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 19: Pinole Valley’s James Gordon III (1) catches a pass against St Mary’s High in the first half of their North Coast Section semifinal football game at Saint Mary’s High School on Albany, Calif., on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group) 

After McDonald’s first touchdown in the opening quarter, Pinole Valley’s defense locked in. With about three minutes to go in the second quarter, cornerback Donovan Robinson picked off a pass to give his team great field position. Powerback James Gordon III capitalized on the opportunity by punching in a short touchdown to put St. Mary’s into a 14-0 hole at halftime.

“We know who our guys are and that they want to play a physical game,” McConico said. “We feel like when we play our game, it’s us against us.”

ALBANY, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 19: Pinole Valley quarterback Maddox Wu (10) runs the ball for a first down in the first half of …read more

Source:: The Mercury News

      

Down goes the No. 1 seed – Pinole Valley dominates previously-unbeaten St. Mary’s, advances to the NCS Division VI title game

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