For a second time in three years, St. Francis will play for CIF state football title.

The Lancers claimed the NorCal Division 2-A championship Saturday night with a 28-23 victory at Manteca — and it’s no surprise that running back Darrell Page ignited the offense.

The 5-foot-10, 185-pound junior rushed for 228 yards and a pair of touchdowns as he continues to rewrite the record books at St. Francis (10-4).

Page broke the single-season mark for rushing yards, a record that stood since 1996 when running back Charles Tharp amassed 2,007 yards.

“It’s pretty crazy,” St. Francis coach Greg Calcagno said. “Charles was a pretty good running back and Darrell is, I keep saying the word, special, but he really is. Everybody knows that we give him the ball a lot, but he justifies why we give it to him so much.

“It’s a pretty nice honor for him, and the other thing I say a lot is his uncle Markee Lockett was a heck of a running back also in his own right, and Darrell growing up all along he always wanted to be a Lancer running back — and he’s making the most of it, that’s for sure.”

And he’s not even done, with next week’s state final at Sacramento State against SoCal champ Grace Brethren (13-2) an opportunity to add to his current total of 2,204 rushing yards.

Page is also chasing other records:

• No. 3 on the list for total offense (includes rushing, receiving, punt returns, kick returns) with 2,370 yards this season, which ranks behind quarterback Mike Lauck (2,637 in ’12) and Tharp (2,635 in ’96), who achieved those stats in 13 games;

• tied for No. 2 in touchdowns for a single season with Marquis Jessie (’92), who also found the end zone 23 times, while Tharp (’96) crossed the goal line 26 times.

Manteca (12-3) was burnt for TDs of 50 and 20 yards by Page, with the latter to go up 28-17 with 28 seconds left in the third quarter for the eventual game-winning score.

St. Francis also held leads of 14-3 after the first quarter, which included a 1-yard TD run by fullback Nicholas Robinson, 14-10 at halftime and 21-10 early in the third quarter after a 4-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Reed Vettel to wide receiver Evan Williams.

But it couldn’t shake off Manteca until recovering an onside kick with fewer than 90 seconds remaining in the game.

“We knew it was a hostile environment, we knew the town was coming out and we’re just this team from Mountain View and we needed to make sure that we kept our

St. Francis also held leads of 14-3 after the first quarter, which included a 1-yard TD run by fullback Nicholas Robinson, 14-10 at halftime and 21-10 early in the third quarter after a 4-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Reed Vettel to wide receiver Evan Williams.

But it couldn’t shake off Manteca until recovering an onside kick with fewer than 90 seconds remaining in the game.

“We knew it was a hostile environment, we knew the town was coming out and we’re just this team from Mountain View and we needed to make sure that we kept our poise throughout that game — and it was tough at times,” Calcagno said. “We went through some adversity and our guys they never quit on each other and they showed a lot of poise and a lot of resiliency going into somebody else’s home.”

The only previous appearance in a state final for St. Francis came in 2015, when the Lancers suffered a 23-20 defeat at Citrus Hill.

“For us to go to a state championship game two out of the last three years is huge,” Calcagno said. “And I think that says a lot about our kids, our coaches and all the hard work that’s gone into that. We’re very happy about it. Last time it didn’t turn out so good, and you don’t get a lot of second chances. So this is kind of nice for us.”


St. Francis slows Buffaloes' roll

Manteca slams into dominant defensive front in NorCal bowl

Jonamar Jacinto Sports Editor

Manteca won on the stat sheet Saturday.

The Buffaloes beat St. Francis on offensive yards (367-352), held overwhelming advantages in the possession (73 plays ran to 46 for the Lancers) and turnover (3-1) battles and produced more first downs (23-13) in the CIF Northern California Division II-A Regional Championship Bowl Game at Guss Schmiedt Field.

The scoreboard tells a different story: St. Francis 28, Manteca 23.

The difference? Running back Darrell Page and the Lancers' terrifying defensive front featuring U.S. Army All-American Tyler Manoa, a 6-foot-5, 285-pound nose guard, and 6-4, 240-pound three-star outside linebacker Junior Fehoko, who is drawing interest from Cal and several other NCAA Division I schools.

Page galloped his way to 220 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries, while Manoa and Fehoko accounted for two of their team's three sacks.

The Buffaloes (12-3) were also physically outmatched in their 2016 NorCal Bowl Game against Menlo-Atherton, which rolled to a 49-21 win, but on Saturday they stayed within reach of the parochial powerhouse from Mountain View and the challenging West Catholic Athletic League until Nicholas Robinson recovered an onsidekick to seal it for the Lancers.

St. Francis (10-4) advances to a state title game for the second time in three years and faces Grace Brethren (13-2) of Simi Valley next Saturday, Dec. 16 at Sacramento State. Grace Brethren ousted previously-unbeaten Aquinas of San Bernardino 24-8 in the Division II-A SoCal regional.

Manteca fell to 0-3 in NorCal appearances.

“Hats off to them, that's a very good football team and we were able to battle until the bitter end,” Manteca coach Eric Reis said. “I'm proud of our kids. We had a great season. It was a great year for Manteca football for what we've accomplished.

“That school has more kids than us as a private school,” he added. “We accomplished a lot, and these kids should be really proud of what they did.”

Manteca quarterback Gino Campiotti — who passed for 12 touchdowns and ran for 10 more in the Buffaloes' four-game jaunt to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III title — was often forced into hurling hurried and inaccurate passes throughout. He absorbed several big shots, too, a few delivered by Fehoko.

Despite the relentless pressure, Campiotti accumulated 314 yards and a pair of scores on 24-of-46 passing, though he was limited in the run game (10 rushes, 1 yard).

“I've never been hit like that before,” Campiotti said. “Time and time again I was getting hit. I told my O-line I know you guys are giving it everything you got. These guys have offers from everywhere and they are playing in Army All-American Bowls and stuff. That's just skill level. Our guys battled.

“I said I'll take a beating all night for you. As long as they gave their everything, no matter the result I was going to give my everything. I was going to take those hits and try to throw the best balls that I could throw. A few times it got out of hand, my throws were a little wild, but I think everyone just battled.”

Campiotti was on the mark on his final official throw, hitting sophomore Jacob DeJesus (seven receptions, 115 yards) for a 35-yard touchdown up the middle. His ensuing two-point conversion toss fell incomplete.

“We can rush the passer pretty good and we tried to keep in our lanes and get some pressure on him so that he didn't have all day (to throw),” St. Francis coach Greg Calcagno said. “When he has all day he can pick people apart. He still did a great job against us, but for us, fortunatley, we were able to get some pressure on him and have him get rid of it a little bit faster than he probably wanted to.”

St. Francis gained control at the start, forcing Manteca to settle for a 24-yard field goal by Campiotti on the 17-play opening drive. Campiotti was crushed by a blindside hit from Fehoko on an incomplete pass right before the field goal try.

Page rambled for a 47-yard gain on St. Francis' first play from scrimmage, and Robinson plowed his way in from a yard out to give the Lancers the lead for good. After the defense held the Buffaloes to a three-and-out, Page scored on a 51-yard run that put him past the 100-yard mark with still 3:20 left in the first quarter.

“We certainly wanted to come out and start strong,” Calcagno said. “We knew we were playing away (from home) in a big game and we wanted to get some momentum on our side. We knew it could be a long game with how they're able to throw the ball and they throw it so darn well, so it was important for us to get off to a good start.”

Undeterred by the 14-3 deficit, Manteca answered on the next series with Trabron Russell's 4-yard run early in the second quarter. The sophomore tailback ended as Manteca's leading rusher with 36 yards on 11 attempts.

Manteca's defense forced turnovers — the first two were interceptions by sophomore call-up Dom Rea and Matthew Ender in Buffaloes territory late in the first half — on three of St. Francis' next four drives but were unable to turn any of them into points.

“Our defense kept us in it against a very good offense,” Reis said.

St. Francis quarterback Reed Vettel (8 of 15, 119 yards) capped the first drive of the second half with a 3-yard strike to Evan Williams (four receptions, 43 yards), but Manteca countered 1 minute, 21 seconds later when Carter Williams (six receptions, 93 yards) made an outstanding grab with a vertical leap in the back corner of the end zone.

The Buffaloes' defense came up big again after Page, who kick started the drive with a 48-yard, fumbled in the red zone. Harvard committ Justin Kakala, Manteca's own standout lineman, recovered it.

Manteca could not hold the momentum for long. A failed halfback went awry, Fehoko recorded his sack and Campiotti overthrew a pass to wide-open fullback Michael Frisby in the flats on successive plays.

“We went for the juggular and went for the toss pass and lost yardage,” Reis said. “I thought that was a swing in the game that was pretty big.”

Manteca missed another big opportunity on its next drive. Threatning to cut into a 28-17 deficit from the St. Francis 25, Fehoko ripped the ball away from Campiotti on a designed quarterback keeper, and 300-pound sophomore lineman Afa Sanft recovered the fumble.

“I don't think he was carrying it loosley, the guy just made a play,” Reis said.

Manteca made plays too in the final game of one of the storied program's most successful teams. Junior wide receiver Jorge Cedano (eight catches, 81 yards) said that Saturday's effort was proof the Buffaloes “can play with anybody,” and even though the team loses much experience to graduation it can get back to this point next season.

Manteca will have to replace third-year starters in linebacker Ferrin Manuleleua, two-way lineman Kyle Reis, Campiotti and Kakala. Reis and Kakala are also two of four outgoing starting offensive linemen.

“We got a lot of people coming back, though, that's the thing,” Cedano said. “I feel like if we just keep grinding in the offseason that we can get back to where we were this year, it's just going to take a little bit more because Gino is such a big playmaker and we're going to miss that dude so much. It's going to be hard to get a spot like that filled in. He did so much for us.”



St. Francis 14 0 14 0 — 28

Manteca 3 7 7 6 — 23


First quarter

M—Gino Campiotti 24 field goal, 7:02.

S—Nicholas Robinson 1 run (Alessandro Mariuolo kick), 4:21.

S—Darrell Page 51 run (Mariuolo kick), 3:20.


Second quarter

M—Trabron Russell 4 run (Campiotti kick), 9:27.


Third quarter

S—Evan Williams 3 pass from Ryan Vettel (Mariuolo kick), 8:21.

M—Carter Williams 19 pass from Campiotti, (Campiotti kick), 7:01.

S—Page 19 run (Mariuolo kick), 0:28.