#3 Galileo Lions RB Ronzel Fox displays cheetah speed and elusiveness in Turkey Day game.
photo by Lacy Atkins, The Chronicle
It was a Thanksgiving Day high school championship football game that'll go down as one of the most competitive, see-sawing competitions in recent Kezar Stadium history, and mind you Kezar has seen 90 of them overall.
The defending champion Lincoln Mustangs (7-4) received the ball first and their big, bruising offensive line dominance appeared as if the defending champs would pound the ball straight down the (11-1) Galileo Lions gaping throats all day. The smaller Lions simply couldn't stop the Mustangs power running game, especially on third downs.
It didn't help the Lions cause that they kept with the onside kickoffs from the start; why? nobody seemed to know. Could've been a threatening Mustang return man but we never got the chance to see. Of their five or so onside kick attempts the Lions recovered zero. The onside kick was almost the Lions undoing; almost.
Usually I write about the game day atmosphere with highlights of the on field action slipped in. This year's game pace was so fast that I hardly had time to look up from my notes to catch the explosive and gritty action on the field, much less the excitement reflected in the stands. It was the methodical Mustangs rushing against the fast strike Lions passing. Each scored damaging blows to the other in the first half. The 14-16 Mustangs lead at the half gave no indication of how the second half would play out. The game would have to fall to a big play on defense to determine the outcome, otherwise the teams seemed ready to battle it out tit for tat.
Halftime gave me a breather and time for a bathroom run, but that was it. I think the 1972 Woodrow Wilson Warriors high school footbeall team was scheduled to be honored at the half, but I saw none of it.
My quick visit with former Galileo asst. coach/player and current coach of the PCFL's Golden Gate Giants , Hudari Murray, was brotherly as usual. I'm proud of my brotha Dari and his community activism; providing guidance, leadership and a positive path for high risk inner-city youth. I urge others in the community to help support Coach in anyway they can. Its about more than just football; its about the future of San Francisco youth. You can hear Coach voice his concerns about SF youth and need for community support here: "guest speaker Hudari Murray."
Now back to the AAA championship game. The biggest highlight for me, if I had to choose one, was definitely the fourth quarter over the shoulder interception snag and 59yd gallop by Lions #40 Lala Haro. We all watched as Lala shoved would-be tacklers aside, utilized his own blockers and rumbled down the sideline before running out of gas and being tackled two yards shy of the end zone. The play was a definite morale boost to the Lions and a potential dagger to the Mustangs hopes of a comeback. And yet the Mustangs did make it close, real close.
The 59 yard romp by Lala should go down as one of the greatest defensive plays of any championship game played here at Kezar. The stakes, the timing, the tenacious will to push through the fatigue and put your team in position to take control of a hard fought game. On the drive the Mustangs would've taken a lead had they scored. While Lions quarterback Kyle Nelson was stellar in the passing game, the bend but don't break play of Lala and the defense makes this Lions championship one to savor.
Here's my unofficial notes on the game:
G - Galileo (Home)
L - Lincoln (Visitor)
G - onside kick, L recovers at midfield
L - rushes, first downs, rushing touchdown
L - 2pt conversion good 6:49 1st qtr
L - kickoff returned to midfield
G - 3rd down pass comp, personal foul, 16 yd rushing TD by QB
G - 2pt conversion good 5:27 1st qtr
L - stopped on 4th and 1 9:00 2nd qtr
G - 1st down pass, #3 ronzel fox long run nullified by penalty
G - 4th down pass incomplete, L ball on 38yd 5:49 2nd qtr
L - First pass complete, 1st down 4:23 2nd qtr
L - nice run from 30 yd to 9 yd ln
L - rushing 5 yd TD
L - 2pt conversion good 1:18 2nd qtr
G - 54yd pass completion and run on 2nd and 2 from 36yd 0:28.6
G - 2nd and 2 from 36yd, touchdown
G - 2pt conversion fail
L - returns kickoff 54yds to 44yd line, last man saves td
L - kickoff
G - 2nd down 80 yard touchdown run by #3 ronzel fox 11:14 3rd qtr
G - 2pt conversion no good
G - onside kick fair caught by L
L - pounding the ball, rushing touchdown 3rd qtr 4:10
L - 2pt conversion good
L - kickoff, late hit penalty, ball to midfield
G - QB rushes 24yds to 31yd, facemask penalty puts ball on 13yd line
G - pretty floater touchdown pass 3rd qtr 3:24
G - 2pt conversion good
G - onside kickoff again recovered by L
L - ball on 32yd, marching no defensive line penetration by G
L - pass interception by #40 Lala Haro returned 59yds to 2 yd line
G - QB rushes 2 yds for touchdown 4th qtr 9:08
G - 2pt conversion no good
G - another onside kickoff recovered by L
L - continues incurring penalties on big gains
L - 24yd rushing touchdown, appeared to have fumbled into endzone
L - referees huddle and call TD 4th qtr 4:48
L - 2pt conversion no good
G - gets ball, QB sacked back in territory
G - punts to midfield 4th qtr 2:52
L - marching into redzone, running game still strong, converts on 4th and 2
L - first quarterback option run of day fumbles, G recovers ball 4th qtr 1:06
G - two kneeldowns, ballgame
Galileo Lions 34
Lincoln Mustangs 30
The SF Chronicle gives a good breakdown of the AAA championship game in today's edition; Galileo's Speed Conquers Lincoln.