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Co-champions clash in semifinals

The football playoff that couldn't happen during the regular season will happen Saturday afternoon in Fremont when St. Vincent's Mustangs clash with California School for the Deaf's Eagles.

The two teams tied for the North Central II/Bay Football League championship during the regular season and, while they will forever be co-champions, Saturday's North Coast Section Division 5 playoff game will at least give the winner bragging rights.

Of course, it will do much more than that, sending the winner into the NCS semifinals and the loser home to contemplate an outstanding season.

The game will match two of the most potent small-school offenses in the NCS. The Eagles have simply run over people on their way to a 10-1 season. Their only loss was to Upper Lake, 20-3, a surprising defeat that cost them a perfect season and the outright championship.

The Eagles are possibly the most explosive offensive team the Mustangs have faced this season.

In their first meeting, Eagle running back Brian Freeman proved unstoppable for the Mustangs, breaking off touchdown runs of 54 and 62 yards. As a team, the Eagles totaled 523 combined yards against the Mustangs.

But St. Vincent cannot afford to crowd the box to stop Freeman. Last week in their playoff win over Tomales, the Eagles struck through the air, with quarterback Carlos Lopez throwing four touchdown passes. Lopez was eight of 15 in the game for 180 yards. Tomales held Freeman to 115 yards, but that discounts a 51-yard run that was called back by a penalty.

For the season, Freeman has run for 1,442 yards and 15 touchdowns. He averages better than eight yards per carry and 144 a game. Lopez is 80 out of 157 for the season for 1,354 yards and 19 touchdowns for a 104 quarterback rating.

Defensively, the Braves have been outstanding. They have recorded three shutouts, held potent Upper Lake to a field goal and allowed high-scoring Tomales just three touchdowns in two games.

Linebackers Johnny Morales and Jacy Pedersen-Dike are the CSD tackle leaders, but the key to the Eagles is a swarming defense that puts a lot of helmets around the football.


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