Antioch High Panthers football finishes season in historic fashion

By Luke Johnson

Antioch High School football has come off its most successful season in recent memory. It included three individually broken records in addition to a team feat that has not been reached in three decades.

For the first time since 1984, the Panthers won a North Coast Section Playoff game. In that contest, at San Leandro High on Nov. 14, sophomore sensation Najee Harris crushed the school record for rushing yards in a game that was set back in 1958 with 371 yards. The original record was 303 yards. In the middle of that match up, he also became the first Panther to eclipse 2,000 rushing yards in a season, and finished the campaign with a total of 2,263 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns.

I had a lot of favorite moments,” Harris said. “The most memorable one was when we were winning back-to-back games, and the school had hope in us, and every game you could the crowd getting bigger and bigger.”

Harris was awarded the Most Valuable Player of the Bay Valley Athletic League, and become to first sophomore to earn that recognition since the league formed in the mid-1990s.

Senior defensive end/linebacker Michael Gray also set a single-season school record for sacks with 20. He passed the original mark (17 set back in 1999) in that same competition against San Leandro High. The final score of that game was 50-26.

Junior linebacker Kobie Beltram is also on pace to break a school record. which is currently held by his older bother Markie, for career tackles on varsity. So far, he has recorded 211 tackles through 22 games. Needing to reach 252, at the rate of tackles he has been generating, he will exceed that in the next five games.

All of these things happened ensuing one of the worst seasons at Antioch High. Last year, the Panthers had a record of 1-9, and went winless against league opponents. This year, they went 7-5, and were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs to Foothill High.

It had a lot to with the players, who were frustrated with how last year went, and put in hard work over the offseason to flip this program around,” coach John Lucido said.

NOTE: Antioch High was awarded an NCS Playoff victory back in 1997, but that was months after the game had already taken place via forfeit from the opposing team due to ineligible roster violations. This was the first time the Panthers outscored their competitor in the playoffs and advanced to the next round since 1984.

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