19 Oct Salesian High Wallops De Anza High by More Than 40 Points
Salesian Pride defenders celebrate after recording a sack in the first quarter of Friday’s win over De Anza in Hercules.
Story and photos by Joe Porrello
Salesian College Preparatory High thrashed De Anza High by a score of 55-13 on Friday night in Hercules.
The De Anza football Dons are playing this season’s home games at Hercules High while their own field gets renovated.
Both teams’ play illustrated why they came in with opposite records; the Pride at 5-1 and the Dons at 1-5.
The Pride have been road warriors yet to suffer a loss away from home (5-0).
Salesian went up six points quickly, using a long run to break the plane on the game’s fourth play.
After a quick three-and-out on their first offensive drive, the Dons punter couldn’t corral the snap; the ball sailed over his head and got recovered by the Pride on the one-yard line, who then rushed it in the next play for their second touchdown.
De Anza High’s early hole would grow.
Following a surprise onside kick and recovery, Salesian connected on a long passing touchdown the ensuing play, their second in two offensive snaps.
The Pride scored first-play touchdowns on four separate occasions, and senior Ethan Alfonso recovered two onside kicks.
“I just stay energized and try keeping my team energized the whole game,” he said.
Not even halfway through the first quarter and already down 21 points, the Dons fumbled on a first play of their own, and Salesian turned the mistake into another six points, making the score 27-0.
The only punt of the game from either team came at the end of the first quarter, when De Anza’s punter again had a tough snap to handle and barely got the kick off.
The Dons would fight back, though their momentum was short lived.
De Anza managed to force three Pride turnovers in the second quarter and finally put points on the board using a touchdown via air hauled in by senior Davion Dunkley.
“We made a lot of mistakes; we need to clean that up for sure,” said Pride senior quarterback Marco Turqueza.
The other senior pass thrower in Salesian High’s two-quarterback system, Byron Aguilera, said his team’s confidence almost got the best of them.
“I know, coming into this game, we saw their record and we underestimated them,” he said.
The Pride are using a two-headed approach behind center after the team’s starting quarterback went down with an injury in their previous game.
Aguilera said, as seniors, he and Turqueza are ready to guide their team by controlling the offense and leading by example.
“It’s a lot of responsibility, but it’s a good responsibility,” he said.
Salesian High senior running back Luis Dejesus noted filling the shoes of their injured starting quarterback will be a team effort.
“Everybody has to step up,” he said.
The Dons cut the deficit to 13 when Dunkley took the halftime kickoff to the house for his second touchdown. Then, their special teams employed a successful onside kick themselves.
That would be the end of any comeback for the Dons, who turned the ball over twice and gave up a pair of touchdowns over the remainder of the third quarter.
It was a sloppy game overall, with the Dons recovering four fumbles on defense and losing three on offense.
“We just gotta build on it; we have a young team,” said Dunkley.
The senior led his team for the game in carries (10), touchdowns (2), receptions (4), and receiving yards (52), as well as being second in tackles (7) and recovering a fumble.
Pride head coach Chad Nightingale had high praise for the Dons and their star player.
“De Anza has a lot of talent,” he said. “(Dunkley) is a heck of a player.”
Dunkley, one of De Anza High’s bright spots of the season, paces the Dons for the season in rushing yards, receiving yards and touchdowns.
After their fifth loss two weeks ago, the Dons will now finish with their first overall losing record in six years.
De Anza had only a pair of Tri-County-Rock League losses in their last two seasons combined.
On the flipside, Salesian already has as many wins as last season. But the Pride are used to winning football games in recent history.
In the last 20 years, the Pride have only three overall losing seasons and a 70-23 record in league play.
With multiple lopsided losses this season, the Dons have been outscored 192 points by their opponents, while the Pride have a +170 point differential.
Salesian and De Anza are unalike in almost every way.
The Dons have surrendered at least 30 points in five of seven games and scored over 20 only once, while the Pride have scored 30 points in five of seven games and given up 20 points only once.
Salesian is currently first out of 14 teams in the North Coast Division 6 standings.
In the TCRL standings, the Pride are second to only undefeated El Cerrito, who they play in their final regular season game Nov. 4.
But Nightingale doesn’t want his team to get ahead of themselves; in his 28 years coaching, he has learned the value of patience.
“What I do really appreciate about this team is that they’ve been really good about taking the games one at a time,” he said.
The Pride take on Bethel High (2-5) next in Richmond on Saturday, and Aguilera is confident about their chances.
“I know that if we follow what we’re coached to do, it’s always going to lead in the right direction,” he said.
The Dons’ upcoming matchup with Pinole Valley High on Oct. 21 will be senior night and their last scheduled home game, though not at De Anza High.
De Anza High coaches and players say that having their home games at Hercules High doesn’t feel like a disadvantage or bother them.
Dunkley said he played on the field when he was younger, and the Dons’ only win of the season came there during an official road game against Hercules High.
The Pride are likely headed for the playoffs, while the Dons are playing for pride.