A football player running with the ball with his hand on the helmet of an opponent who is near the ground in a kneeling and bent at the waist position

Pittsburg Defeats California Grizzlies, Set to Play San Ramon Valley for NCS Division 1 Title

A football player running with the ball with his hand on the helmet of an opponent who is near the ground in a kneeling and bent at the waist position

By Juan Cebreiros

The Pittsburg High Pirates will have an opportunity to defend their North Coast Section Division 1 title after defeating the California High Grizzlies 35-14 on Nov. 17.

Pittsburg High’s running back tandem of Elijah Bow and Jamar Searcy was too much for the Grizzly defense as the two runners combined to tally 357 rushing yards on just 33 carries. Pirates head coach Charlie Ramirez doesn’t give all the credit to just his two ball carriers but also to the offensive linemen, who have been playing at a high level down the stretch. 

“Obviously, their natural ability plays a role, but the offensive line is really gelling together,” Ramirez said. 


However, while the Pirates produced 484 yards of offense, it was the defense that kicked off the scoring and set the tone for the rest of the contest. 

On the opening drive, Pirates defensive back Samu Iosia ran 50 yards for a touchdown after intercepting a pass from Grizzlies quarterback Jayden Macedo to give the Pirates a 7-0 lead before the offense set foot on the field. 

>>>How They Got Here: Pittsburg Defeats Amador Valley in Opening Round of NCS Division 1 Playoffs

“We’re always focusing on getting the ball and making plays,” Ramirez said. “We’re an attacking-style defense with a bend but don’t break style of philosophy.” 


While the Pirates never trailed, they were unable to pull away from California High until the final quarter in which Bow rushed for two touchdowns to take a three-score lead and put the game out of reach. 

Grizzlies head coach Danny Calcagno said his team’s offense struggling to convert promising drives into points played a big part in the team’s semifinal defeat. 

“What hurt us tonight was the red zone,” Calcagno said. “We weren’t able to score in the red zone. We were down there three or four times, and we would just stall out.”


Other than a 75-yard pass from Macedo to receiver Nick Fox to tie the game at seven early in the first quarter, the Grizzlies offense couldn’t produce any points until late in the fourth quarter when the special teams unit returned a kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown.

With the offense struggling, it was the Grizzlies defense that kept the team within striking distance for the first three quarters. The Pirates never held a lead larger than seven points until late in the third quarter when Bow and Searcy began to run through the Grizzlies defense. 

“If our offense was able to play a little bit better, it would have helped our defense,” Calcagno said. 


The Grizzlies struggled all game long to bring Searcy to the ground as he tallied 272 total yards, including a 35-yard touchdown catch that helped the Pirates secure the second-round playoff victory. 

Ramirez said the mindset headed into the final against San Ramon Valley is to “keep focusing on us, execution and discipline. …At the end of the day, as long as we are playing our best possible game we are gonna be hard to beat.”

Pittsburg High will take on the Wolverines at 7 p.m. Friday as they look to secure their fourth straight NCS Division 1 title.

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