Should be a stadium full of high-voltage energy Friday night at Alvarez High School in more ways than one.
Not only is unbeaten Alvarez playing in its first Central Coast Section playoff game in 11 years, but its opponent, Monta Vista of Cupertino, is making its first post-season appearance in 17 years.
Only a winning coin flip kept Alvarez from having to play the Mighty, Mighty Mustangs of Homestead High (I know what you’re thinking, “Oh no, not again”).
Homestead, of course, is alma mater of the guy who is writing this column, and I’ve probably written far too much on the history of a school whose architect was rumored to have been the same guy who designed Sing Sing Prison. Classrooms at Homestead are encased by solid brick, and yes, we did feel like prisoners at times.
Monta Vista is Homestead’s sister school. It opened in the late 60s and a broke up our little gang of roughnecks who went to elementary and junior high school together.
Anyway, the coin flip was needed after Alvarez and Milpitas tied for the top spot in Division I. According to Alvarez coach Dave Bottom, neither he nor the Milpitas coach was allowed to call heads or tails. The honor went to some CCS representative. One way or another it was deemed heads it’s Alvarez, tails it’s Milpitas.
Heads it was.
“I would have called heads,” Bottom said, when asked what he would have chosen.
It’s been that kind of year for Alvarez, which went one better than North County when it went winless in 1978 to unbeaten in 1979. Alvarez went from 0-10 last year to 10-0. North County went to 9-0.
As for football the Eagles had two running backs – Caesar Ramirez and quarterback Edric Gamble — rush for more than 1,000 yards in the same season. It’s just the third time any Monterey County team has done that since the Californian has been tracking statistics starting in 1985.
But it’s the defense that has impressed Bottom.
“The defense has been fantastic,” he said.
The fact that the Eagles shut down Monterey in the second half of last Friday’s game tells you all you need to know about the defense.
Bottom said the core of his defense is defensive end Steve Otherson, linebacker Rene Chavez, free safety Isaac Gonzalez and cornerback-linebacker Tim Alvarez.
Monta Vista has five first-team all-leagues on defense.
Here’s a few more notes on this weekend’s playoff games.
* It wouldn’t be a “Football Notebook” column without a correction, and here’s today’s weekly feature. All Friday playoff games kick off at 7 p.m. I won’t confuse you by putting what time was listed in yesterday’s paper, but suffice to say you’d miss the first quarter.
* Just to make the Open Division validates your program as being one of the best in CCS, and Mitty and Palma certainly have the credentials to back that up. They’ll meet Friday at Rabobank Stadium (7 p.m.!!!).
The Open Division was created in 2004 to try and keep the private-school powers from feasting on public school teams. The massacre of 2003 when Valley Christian slugged Pacific Grove 69-0 in a D-IV title game was apparently the last straw. For the most part it has worked out well. Private schools have combined for six Open titles and public schools three. But it’s the other divisions that have benefited the most.
Key players for Mitty this year are Chandler Ramirez FB/DE, Kyle Evans RB/DB, Dakari Monroe RB/DB, Daniel Mendoza OL/DL, Sean Stanelle LB and Tommy Hudson TE/DE.
Mitty’s last CCS title came in D-III in 1999.
* The Salinas Cowboys are the New York Jets of high school football. The Jets became the first NFL team in history to win one game, lose the next through the first nine weeks of this season.
The Cowboys have done nearly the same the past five years in the CCS playoffs. They’ve won the first, lost the second all five times. Salinas will try to keep that trend going – at least for one more week – when it goes to Piedmont Hills Friday for a D-I opener (do I really need to tell you the time?).
* On a personal note, I’m happy to see North Salinas back in the playoffs. This was a giddy bunch of players and a bunch of smiling parents when they took the field back in September to play in the first high school game at Rabobank Stadium. They didn’t fare so well in that game – Salinas gave them a pretty good whipping and the next week Carmel did the same. With little margin for error North High went on to win seven of its last eight games and a group of seniors that had gone through some tough times made it to CCS.
So what if they have to play Los Gatos — the team that leads all public schools in CCS in playoff appearances. Game time at Los Gatos is what (if you don’t know by know it ain’t my fault)? A little advice: Don’t forget the GPS. Los Gatos kind of a hard school to find at night, especially around 7 p.m.
This is Los Gatos’ first playoff game in 26 years without Butch Cattolico, who retired as coach last season after 26 years.
* Other playoff games Friday are Scotts Valley against Carmel at Pacific Grove High (next year renovations to Carmel’s football field may allow it to host playoff games), which was made possible because Pacific Grove will be busy playing at Live Oak (an MBL terror in the 1990s – four league titles and three second-place finishes) on the same night (and same time). Monterey makes the hike to Sequoia High in Redwood City to play Menlo.
When the dust has settled and the rubber pellets have stopped rolling into our socks Friday, Seaside plays a 1 p.m. Saturday game at Sacred Heart Prep in Atherton. If you have time check out the cars in the student parking lot. Last time I looked, the average price was about $50,000.
* In a follow-up to last week’s talks where MBL and MTAL reps met with the SCCAL for preliminary talks about a possible football merger, no decisions were made, reports MBL-MTAL commissioner Tim McCarthy. But he did say the SCCAL will present a written report on its concerns and suggestions about such a possibility at a league meeting in January.
The MBL may be hard to sway. McCarthy said the equity league format now in use has received a strong and favorable response.
I second that motion.
George Watkins is a sports writer for The Salinas Californian.He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 754-4264. He can also be followed on Twitter at watkins_salnews.