When El Cerrito High School's undefeated varsity football squad plays its "home" game in the post-season playoffs opener Saturday, it will take the field not in El Cerrito but at DeAnza High School in Richmond.
The Gauchos will play the Titans of Fremont's John F. Kennedy High in the first round of the tournament for the championship of Division III of the North Coast Section, one of the largest of the state's 10 high school athletic regions.
Although the 7 p.m. game is listed as a "home" game for El Cerrito, the Gauchos will play it at DeAnza High in Richmond. The team's home games during the regular season were played at El Cerrito High.
Gaucho football coaches "felt the turf field at DeAnza provided the team the best opportunity to excel in the playoffs," said El Cerrito High Principal David Luongo in an email response to Patch. "... Our team has an amazing amount of speed and turf fields allow the team to maximize that speed."
"Another factor that played into the decision was weather," Luongo said. "This time of year is typically wet in the Bay Area so the use of a turf field ensures better conditions for the strengths of our team."
The El Cerrito High field is natural grass and dirt and is due to be replaced next summer as part of the unfinished upgrade of the school's athletic fields.
With a 60-6 victory over St. Patrick-St. Vincent High last Friday, the Gauchos under head coach Kenny Kahn finished a highly successful 10-0 regular season, outscoring opponents in cumulative points by 510 to 74.
They won the Rock Division championship of the Tri-County Athletic League and are ranked second, behind Marin Catholic, in Division III of the North Coast Section.
The latest MaxPreps ranking for Bay Area high school teams published on the San Franciso Chronicle website shows El Cerrito in seventh place, and the third highest-ranked public school. (The other four in the top seven are private schools.)
The Gauchos' opponent Saturday, Kennedy High, has a 4-6 season record.
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