Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category
High-scoring thriller is Panthers first victory in the rivalry since 2006
By Luke Johnson
It was the most anticipated Big Little Game of all time, and it exceeded expectations before a standing room crowd estimated at 7,000. Alabama-commit Najee Harris rushed for 268 yards and four touchdowns for Antioch High School to defeat host Pittsburg in a wild comeback, 44-42. The Panthers won their first League Championship in 31 years, and finished the season undefeated, 10-0.
“We knew we were going to be in a dog fight, so we expected all of this,” Harris said. “The feeling is unreal right now. I’m just trying to enjoy the moment.”
Harris’s teammate, Ryan Payne was a difference maker in the game by scoring two touchdowns on defense, a 45-yard interception and 15-yard fumble return.
A second fumble by Antioch within the 5-yard line, this one in the third quarter, was grabbed by Pittsburg. But on the first play following the turnover, Antioch forced a safety, which was the two point difference in the final score.
Two years ago, Antioch finished 1-9, and became an afterthought in the Bay Valley Athletic League (BVAL). But the team featured promising, young talent such as Harris, Payne, Nick Perry and Antioch’s all time leading tackler, Kobie Beltram.
“I worked so hard for this,” Beltram said with tears of happiness running down his face. “All that time dedicated at Malu Fitness has paid off. It was a great experience.”
Besides becoming BVAL Champs, Antioch achieved many milestones in this game. It was the first time the Panthers finished the regular season 10-0 since 1977; it was the first time they won the Big Little Game since 2006; and they also ended Pittsburg’s 18-game winning streak against league opponents.
Pittsburg’s offense was led by running back Montaz Thompson and wide receiver Dushawn Thomas, whom had three touchdowns a piece. Thompson also had 218 yards on the ground.
Late in the fourth quarter, Antioch quarterback Numan Najib connected with wide reeceiver Antione Tanner for 50 yards to set a up a crucial 9-yard touchdown run by Harris. It was only Tanner’s second catch of the year, and it gave Antioch much needed insurance at 44 points.
“I was nervous,” Najib said. “Coaches said, ‘It’s all on you, Numan Either you make this play or we are gonna give them the ball.’”
“Antoine kept telling me all year, ‘Pass me the ball,’” he addd. “I have never thrown it to him once the whole year… I saw him down the middle, I just threw it up to him and he did his thing.”
The fans in the Antioch stands went wild cheering “Yoc Boys, Yoc Boys,” the nickname for this year’s team.
Unfortunately, the Big Little Game trophy was not brought to the stadium for presentation to the Panthers, following the game.
“I’ll have to pick it up on Monday,” said Antioch High Principal Louie Rocha.
North Coast Section Playoff seedings will be released Sunday. Antioch is favored to earn a top three position with a first round bye. Pittsburg, who finished the season 8-2, is expected to earn the fourth or fifth seed.
See more photos and videos from the game on the Antioch Herald Facebook page.
Allen Payton contributed to this report.
More scenes from the game:
By Luke Johnson
One of the most intense and longest-lasting high school rivalries has returned. Antioch and Pittsburg football will meet Saturday afternoon for the 97th annual Big Little Game, and the winner will determine the Bay Valley Athletic League (BVAL) Champion. This is the first time both teams will face each other with undefeated records against league opponents.
The feud dates back to 1924, with over 20 future NFL stars coming from both programs, including Hall of Famers Gino Marchetti (Antioch, 1944) and John Henry Johnson (Pittsburg, 1949). In the earlier years of the contest, the teams met up twice each season.
The rivalry heated up in the late 1930′s, and from 1939 to 1943 the Big-Little Game was cancelled due to uncontainable hostility between the two towns; which means Antioch’s greatest player (Marchetti) never played in his school’s most important game. The game returned in 1944, and Pittsburg upset an undefeated Antioch team, 12-7, in front of over 7,000 spectators on a Tuesday night; back when both cities combined for a population of approximately 20,000. It was pushed from Friday to Tuesday due to overflowing rain fall.
Bad blood between the two schools continued into the 1970s, and the game was rescheduled for Saturday afternoons, in an effort to decrease game-time violence. Back then, even the cheerleaders had to have a police escort into the stadium.
In the 1980s, Antioch’s concrete panther statue had its head bashed off during the week of multiple Big Little Games. It was eventually replaced in the late 1990′s with a flat-iron statue, and in the 2000′s, it was traditionally spray painted pink by Pittsburg players.
The City of Antioch opened a new high school in 1996, Deer Valley, and AHS lost half its students; weakening its football team. Since that time, the rivalry has lacked some of its luster, and the game was switched back to Friday nights in 2011. Antioch has not won the Big-Little Game since 2006, and has not won in Pittsburg’s stadium since 2001. Pittsburg has generally dominated the series, and leads 65-26-7 (including two playoff wins).
But now it is a different story. With the game back on Saturday, Antioch is undefeated (9-0) and has a chance to win a League Championship for the first time since 1984. The last time the Panthers finish the regular season 10-0 was in 1977.
Vic Galli has been in command of Pittsburg’s football team for 14 seasons. Along the way he has won 10 BVAL Titles, broken a 72-year-old record to become the program’s all-time winningest coach (117 and counting) and holds a 13-1 record against Antioch. His rookie season, 2002, was the last time the Big Little Game decided the BVAL Champion. Pittsburg won that match-up, 31-21.
This year, the teams are led by two of the country’s best players. Antioch junior Najee Harris is committed to the University of Alabama, and holds every school rushing and touchdown record [see article here]. He is lighting up the scoreboard this season by totaling 2,078 yards on offense (rushing and receiving) and averaging 12.7 yards per carry with 28 touchdowns. Pittsburg senior Jordan Parker is a shutdown cornerback, who is committed to the University of Oklahoma. Even with quarterbacks avoiding to throw toward his direction, Parker still has the most interceptions in the BVAL for the past two seasons with eight.
Senior linebackers Kobie Beltram (Antioch) and Charlie Ramirez (Pittsburg) have something in common other than earning All-Bay Area accolades at the same position. Both have family history in the Big Little Game. Beltram has surpassed his brothers, Richie and Markie, as Antioch’s all-time leading tackler (310 and counting); while Ramirez’s father, Charlie, Sr., was a starting linebacker on Pittsburg’s 1991 North Coast Section Championship team, which was the last time De La Salle High School lost in Northern California. Beltram said a win would mean a lot to bring home to his family, and added it is equally important to win for his teammates and his city.
Pittsburg is 8-1 this year, with its only loss coming to Monte Vista, 49-42. They also have an 18-game winning streak against the BVAL, dating back to 2012. Galli said he is not impressed with Antioch’s 9-0 record, but added the Panthers still should not be taken lightly.
“Every year I schedule games against tough teams to get my players battle tested for the playoffs, and games like this,” Galli said, adding that his schedule against teams from the East Bay Athletic League is much more difficult than Antioch’s schedule.
According to Galli, the record-setting attendance at Pirate Stadium in Pittsburg was approximately 15,000 in a regular season contest versus De La Salle in 1995. He and other people involved in the game expect a crowd of 6,000 to 10,000 tomorrow. Pre-sale tickets went out this week to both schools, and hundreds have already been purchased.
With parking expected to be an issue, Pittsburg security has made precautionary adjustments. The Leber Lane parking lot will only be accessible for handicapped parking, team members and school employees. The Pittsburg City Court House parking lot on Railroad Avenue will be made available, with shuttles transporting people to the stadium. Doors open at 9:30 a.m., JV games starts at 11 a.m. and varsity kickoff is at 1:30 p.m.
Congratulations go out to student-athlete Niaja Nolan, the first client of Antioch’s All Sports Training Center to receive a full-ride, college athletic scholarship. A resident of Pittsburg, Niaja is a junior at Carondelet High School in Concord, where she has maintained a 3.8 grade point average throughout high school.
Since the age of 12, Niaja developed a passion for softball. As she matured, so did her talent and her love for the sport grew. She played so well that the coaches recognized her potential to be great and made her a starter. However, Niaja lacked speed and agility.
Her mother Jessi Nolan, who is her number one fan and greatest supporter, took action to find her help. They hired Will Stalling, founder of All Sports Training Center in Antioch. With the help of Stalling’s personal training, Niaja has been able to maximize her speed, strength, agility and explosion, in a short time.
Since training at All Sports, she was offered a scholarship from Howard University, and committed to the college, this year. It will help Niaja fulfill her dreams of majoring and working in the medical field.
“People have told me I did not have what it takes to be fast,” Niaja said. “Now my coaches tell me to steal bases at will. Thanks to my trainer in the matter of three-and-a-half months, with hard work, I am a complete athlete.”
“Like I have always said, ‘hard work beats talent, when talent is hardly working,’” she added. “Special thanks to my mentor and trainer at All Sports Training Center, loving mother and supporting family members.”
“We would like to congratulate you on your hard work and we wish you well in your future endeavors at Howard University,” Stalling told Niaja.
All Sports is located at 2640 Somersville Road on the outside of the Somersville Towne Center. Contact them at (925) 775-4178 or visit them online at www.allsportstrainingcenter.net.
Antioch School Board hears Deer Valley High football coaches, students speak against accusations, approves new Math-Intensive program for Deer Valley studentsSaturday, October 31st, 2015
By Nick Goodrich
On Wednesday night, October 28, students and coaches with the Deer Valley High School football program, turned out in force to the Antioch School Board meeting, to protest accusations made against them, involving an incident with the Pittsburg High School band, earlier in the month.
Videos were posted on social media of the football game between Deer Valley and Pittsburg on Friday, October 16th, apparently showing Deer Valley football players and coaches interrupting the Pittsburg band, as they performed their routine before the game. Later claims made by band members and parents alleged that band members were pushed, spit on, and harassed by both Deer Valley players and coaches.
However, the Deer Valley students and coaching staff said that the incident was a misunderstanding and in no way occurred as it had been portrayed on social media. The Board agreed, stating that the incident was blown out of proportion, but stood firm in the decision to place Head Coach Robert Hubbard on administrative leave pending a full investigation.
“We have to remind everyone that Coach Hubbard will have to remain on leave until the investigation is complete,” said Board President Claire Smith.
Many of the comments by students and coaches present at the meeting centered on Hubbard, who they say has had “a great impact” on students and players both on and off the field, and who also teaches a special needs class at Deer Valley. He has served as the DVHS football program’s head coach since July of this year, following the departure of previous coach Richard Woods.
During the meeting, the Board also voted 3-0 to approve a new math intensive tutoring program for Deer Valley students, developed by Antioch residents John Crowder and Angel Luevano. The program, which will be available after school for three hours every school day, places a special emphasis on students struggling in their current Algebra 1 classes.
Students in the program will work with tutors on their current class work, while also catching up with work they have learned in the past but may have forgotten. Testing will occur at each students’ entry to determine which skills need to be worked on with each individual, and will continue throughout the program. Once a student is deemed through testing to have sufficient knowledge of the subjects being learned in class, he or she will graduate the program, opening up the spot for another student to be brought on board. As many as twenty-four students at a time can participate. The Board members said they excited to vote the program in, and expects to see positive results with Algebra 1 students at Deer Valley.
Freedom varsity Girls and Boys teams beat Antioch in Oct. 28 BVAL Dual Cross Country Meet at Contra LomaSaturday, October 31st, 2015
Antioch’s JV Boys beat Freedom in the Open 2-mile. Freedom won the Limited 3-mile competition. Low score wins.
JV Open 2-mile Girls:
Antioch didn’t have enough runners in this race.
JV Open 2-mile Boys:
JV Girls Limited 3-mile:
Antioch didn’t have any runners in this race
JV Boys Limited 3-mile:
Provided by Glenn F. Briggs ATC, Head Track & Field Coach, Freedom High School
Results for the BVAL Double Dual Cross Country Meet between Deer Valley, Freedom and Pittsburg High School Varsity and JV teams, held at Prewett Park, on Wednesday, October 21. The teams with the low score were the winners.
Varsity Boys Team Dual Scoring
Freedom vs Deer Valley Scoring: FHS 23 Deer Valley 33
Freedom vs Pittsburg Scoring: FHS 24 Pitt 31
Deer Valley vs Pittsburg Scoring: Pitt 25 Deer Valley 30
Varsity Girls Team Dual Scoring
Freedom vs Deer Valley Scoring: FHS 27 Deer Valley 28
Freedom vs Pittsburg Scoring: FHS 23 Pitt 32
Deer Valley vs Pittsburg Scoring: Deer Valley 23 Pitt 32
JV Boys Team Dual Scoring
Freedom vs Deer Valley Scoring: FHS 24 Deer Valley 31
Freedom vs Pittsburg Scoring: FHS 23 Pitt 32
Deer Valley vs Pittsburg Scoring: Pitt 24 Deer Valley 35
JV Girls Team Dual Scoring
Freedom vs Pittsburg Scoring: Pitt 22 FHS 33
Deer Valley did not field a complete team for JV girls
Briggs is also the Head Certified Athletic Trainer and ROP Sport Medicine & Algebra 1 Instructor at Freedom High School in Oakley.
By Richard Kilwein
As the Saint Mary’s College men’s basketball team was taking its annual team photo yesterday, a group of 7-8 year old kids politely eased into a corner of McKeon Pavilion to watch. After a few minutes of standing in awe, they were invited to jump in for a memorable photo opportunity.
The 2nd graders from Holy Rosary School in Antioch were on a field trip to SMC as part of their annual college week, an effort to provide a glimpse into what college campus life is like. The students sent letters to their “dream” college and the school organized the trip.
No doubt, the Gaels made a few new fans.
Thanks to Vice Principal Cathy VanderKlugt for allowing the kids to participate.
The school is located in Moraga.