The temperature may have been cold Friday night, but the El Cerrito High Gauchos were hot as they extended their unbeaten record to 13-0 this year by beating previously undefeated Analy High in the semifinals of the North Coast Section Division III tournament.
Top-seeded El Cerrito’s 40-20 victory over the fifth-seed team from Sebastopol puts the Gauchos in the championship final game. Their opponent will be whoever wins the other semifinal match tonight, Saturday, between second-seed Marin Catholic (11-1) and third-seed Cardinal Newman (11-1).
The game against Analy, played at DeAnza High in Richmond, echoed a familiar pattern that has seen repeated lopsided victories for El Cerrito this year.
The Gauchos moved the ball, and whether they went left or right, Analy seemed unable to stop them.
El Cerrito was first on the board with a touchdown about halfway though the first quarter. The next score came only a minute into the second quarter when junior Adarius Pickett scored the Gauchos’ second touchdown, putting the team ahead 13-0.
Analy fought back and drove into what would normally be easy field goal range, but the kick missed.
A third El Cerrito touchdown brought the half-time score to 19-0.
The second half saw a more evenly matched game, with Analy scoring 20 points to El Cerrito’s 21, but the Gaucho’s first-half cushion gave them a comfortable margin of victory.
“Benjamin completed 23 of 28 passes for 211 yards and three touchdowns and ran for two third-quarter scores,” the paper said.
The El Cerrtio defense also turned in an impressive performance. The Analy team had never scored fewer than 35 points in any of its previous 12 games this season, the Times noted.
The halftime featured a poignant honor for El Cerrito High grad Tyson Quink, who played football at ECHS and West Point and whose story was featured in national media after he lost both legs in the Afghan war. (For more details, see the Patch story, "Honor Tonight for ECHS Grad Who Lost Legs in Afghan War.")
This year's record for El Cerrito, under head Kenny Kahn, has so far been one of the most impressive in school history.
In a rain-soaked game last week, the Gauchos rolled over Bishop O'Dowd 19-7.