CUPERTINO—The story of the underdog beating the favorite usually ends with the former barely sneaking by the latter to pull off a historic upset.
However, there was no need for a dramatic last-minute, game-winning drive for No. 7 St. Francis High as it cruised to a crushing 38-13 victory over No. 2 Cupertino High in the Central Coast Section Division V quarterfinals on Saturday.
Sharks head coach John Ausman said he was certain that defeating an opponent the way they did shouldn’t happen in the playoffs.
“You want to treat it as another game but everyone knows that the winner keeps going, the loser goes home,” he said.
With the victory, the Sharks (8-3) also captured their first CCS playoff win in the program’s history. It was another of the many “firsts” this year’s team has etched into the record books, including the program’s first Pacific Coast Athletic League Santa Lucia Division title and outright championship.
Ausman said that the seniors haven’t gotten enough recognition this season, especially after what they’ve accomplished in four years at St. Francis.
“That’s totally 100% well deserved for this senior class,” he said.
Ausman added that Saturday’s playoff win was also for all of the alumni of the relatively young program.
“Everyone one of those guys can take pride in that because they’re part of Sharks football,” he said.
Senior running back Johrdan Garibay set the tone early against Cupertino, breaking tackles and falling forward to gain an extra yard or two.
Ausman credited the offensive line for giving phenomenal effort up front. That allowed Garibay to score three touchdowns for the Sharks, who built a 24-7 lead going into halftime.
Prior to the game, Ausman knew the Pioneers had some athletes that posed a threat. Especially dual-threat quarterback Jayden Hall, who showed off his athletic abilities on Saturday night.
Ausman said his players did an excellent job of executing the game plan drawn up and they were physical from the get-go.
“That’s what happens when you have a great week of practice,” he said.
Junior quarterback Kyle Dyer scored on a 7-yard keeper and senior receiver Dez Litel scored on a 4-yard fly sweep to put the Sharks up 12-0 in the opening stanza.
Ausman said that Dyer had a good game executing not just the run game but the passing game, as well.
The Pioneers scored on a 1-yard quarterback keeper to pull within 12-7 with 7:50 left in the half.
Garibay scored on a 27-yard run with 3:22 in the half and Dyer connected with Garrett Lee for a 15-yard TD pass with 31 seconds in the half.
Nehthaniel Madrigal-Hernandez had a 70-yard run and Litel added a 50-yard kickoff return to open the second half.
Garibay scored on two short runs in the third and fourth quarters to give the Sharks a commanding 38-7 lead.
Cupertino scored on a 70-yard pass play for the final TD.
The Sharks’ defense also swarmed to the ball the entire evening. Senior Charlie Valencia recorded an interception before the half, and Noel Aquino ripped the ball out from the ball carrier for a forced fumble and recovery.
“What we’re doing is successful,” Ausman said.
Ausman mentioned that they feel like they belong in the postseason and they’ve felt like that since the summer.
“Each and every game gives you more credibility that what we’re doing is successful and we keep doing it no matter the outcome, we are successful,” he said.
St. Francis, which made its first CCS appearance since 2009 and third in school history, will play at No. 6 Los Altos High (8-3) in the semifinals on Friday at 7pm.
The Eagles, co-champion of the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League’s El Camino Division, are coming off a thrilling 36-30 win over No. 3 Soquel High.
Los Altos lost to Cupertino in the final game of the season but they beat Gunn High for a three-way split of the SCVAL’s El Camino championship.
“I love a challenge and I love being able to prepare for another week,” Ausman said.
CCS Division V, quarterfinals
St. Francis 38, Cupertino 13
Up Next: No. 7 at No. 6 Los Altos
When: Nov. 19 at 7pm