There are 20 teams still alive heading into the Central Coast Section football semifinals this weekend. Six are from the Peninsula Athletic League, the most from any league.
The PAL went a combined 6-2 in the opening round with both losses coming at the hands of other PAL teams -- Burlingame losing to Half Moon Bay and Jefferson losing to Menlo School.
“It speaks to the quality of the league across the board,’’ said Menlo-Atherton coach Adhir Ravipati, whose team won on the road at San Benito, 37-21. “Sometimes people undersell Peninsula football. Sacred Heart Prep has been to two state finals. We were there last year. No other league besides the (West Catholic Athletic League) has done that.’’
The WCAL has always been acknowledged as clearly the strongest league in the CCS. But after the first week of the playoffs this year the WCAL has only three teams still alive, Serra, Valley Christian and St. Francis.
“The WCAL is very top heavy this year in terms of competitive balance,’’ Ravipati said. “The PAL is pretty strong top to bottom. You have teams from the Lake beating teams from the Ocean, teams from the Ocean beating teams from the Bay.’’
Here’s the breakdown of which league the 20 teams headed for the semifinals this weekend represents:
Monterey Bay 5
Santa Clara Valley 3
Blossom Valley 2
Mission Trail 1
The PAL has four teams playing in the three Open Division brackets, the WCAL three, the SCVAL and MBAL two and the BVAL one. The winners of the three Open Division brackets and two of the runner-ups advance to the NorCal regional championships.
M-A, the No. 5 seed in Open Division I, plays at No. 1 Milpitas on Friday at 7 p.m. Menlo School, the No. 2 seed in Division V, hosts Scotts Valley on Saturday at 1 p.m.
Locals help FSU clinch
Fresno State clinched the Mountain West Conference West Division championship Saturday with a 13-7 win in sub-freezing conditions at Wyoming.
It’s been a big turnaround this year for the Bulldogs under first-year coach Jeff Tedford after going 1-11 last season. A couple of former local prep stars have made big contributions.
Jordan Mims, a freshman running back from Menlo-Atherton, leads the team in rushing with 552 yards on 126 carries, despite not starting the first six games of the season. He’s averaged 4.4 yards per carry and scored five touchdowns.
KeeSean Johnson, a junior wide receiver from Palo Alto High, leads the team in receiving with 58 catches for 741 yards and six touchdowns.
Johnson now has 161 career receptions, which puts him ninth on the all-time Fresno State list. The career leader is another former Paly star, Davante Adams, who had 233 receptions in just two years with the Bulldogs.
Adams is now a standout receiver for the Green Bay Packers.
Fresno State will play East Division winner Boise State for the Mountain West championship Dec. 2.
Knight of the Big Green
Jack Heneghan, one of the best quarterbacks in Menlo School’s quarterback-rich history, completed 20 of 31 passes for 208 yards Saturday in Dartmouth’s 54-44 win over Princeton, the final game of his college career.
Heneghan threw for 2,136 yards and 17 touchdowns this season, completing 63.2 percent of his passes. He helped the Big Green, coached by former Stanford coach Buddy Teevens, to a second-place finish in the Ivy League.
Heneghan finished his career having passed for 4,900 yards, fourth-most in Dartmouth history.
Tiger burning bright
Another former prep standout at Menlo, Maddie Huber, is a senior co-captain on the Princeton volleyball team. She had 19 digs playing libero Saturday in a 3-0 playoff win over Yale that sends the Tigers to the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive year.
Huber, a molecular biology major, has highs of 28 digs in a match, achieved twice this season, in a five-set win over Boston College and a four-set win over UConn.