St. Francis overpowers Bellarmine in the trenches

MOUNTAIN VIEW — The Holy War between Bellarmine and St. Francis dates back to 1958.

Friday night in Mountain View, the 73rd rendition of the storied rivalry saw St. Francis establish itself in the trenches during a 28-10 victory in front of a raucous crowd on Senior Night and Homecoming.

That means this year’s graduating class of Lancers never lost to the Bells on the varsity level, its legacy four straight wins after snapping an 11-game skid in 2016.

“We ended the streak a few years ago and we knew that we wanted to keep it going,” said St. Francis senior Mose Vavao, a three-star recruit on the offensive line. “And I told the seniors at halftime, ‘We have one more half, 24 minutes on this field.’ It may be the last time we ever step foot on this field, which was has been part of us for four years. So it was a very special, very emotional night for us.”

St. Francis nose guard Afa Sanft, who recorded 2.5 sacks on three consecutive plays in the fourth quarter, was tabbed MVP of this West Catholic Athletic League contest, which was presented by the Marines as part of the 15th-annual Great American Rivalry Series.

“It means a lot because this is our rivalry, it’s been going on for years,” Sanft said. “It’s been a tradition playing against the Bellarmine Bells, so I’m glad that we worked hard all week to bring the intensity that you saw and we came out with the dub.”


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The Lancers (4-6, 3-4 WCAL) find out Sunday morning their opponent in the quarterfinals of the Central Coast Section playoffs.

“It’s been a tough season, we played some really tough teams and we battled every week,” St. Francis coach Greg Calcagno said. “Always battled, always left everything we had on the field and I think we’re getting better and we’re excited to be in the playoffs. Now everybody is 0-0, so we get to go play.”

He added: “We don’t want this thing to end, yet.”

The Bells (3-7, 2-5), who are also expected to qualify for the postseason, sniffed the red zone only twice.

Dual-threat sophomore Wade Smith took off on a 15-yard QB draw after a scoreless first quarter to make it 7-0, then after St. Francis pulled even a 45-yard field goal by Andrew Schaffer gave Bellarmine its lead back at 10-7 with 3:59 left in the half.

Two minutes later, an interception just past midfield by Andrew Packard put the Bells in prime position to go into the locker room up at intermission.

But momentum shifted after a three-and-out, followed up by an eight-play, 77-yard drive that required less than a minute. St. Francis quarterback Ryan Daly tossed a 3-yard fade to Joey Schott with 15 seconds left as the student section, known as the Rage Cage, went delirious.

Halftime: St. Francis 14, Bellarmine 10.

“It got everyone hyped, everyone’s juices were flowing,” Vavao said. “We knew that if we do our job, we do it correct, we’d come out with the win.”

The Bells managed only 53 yards from scrimmage in the second half, but their biggest misstep occurred in the second quarter on a muffed punt that St. Francis senior Liam Quinn recovered.

Four plays later, sophomore Camilo Arquette burst up the middle for a 10-yard touchdown to get the Lancers on the scoreboard.

“We made it a ball game early, but they’re big and physical — and that kind of caught up to us,” said Bellarmine coach Mike Janda, whose program holds a 42-31 edge in the rivalry. “Plus, we had chances to make plays and didn’t make them. You can’t do that against a good team. Their defense was very strong, we couldn’t run the ball, so they had the upper hand today.”

While the score never got out of reach, St. Francis took command in the second half. It attempted a mere three throws out of the locker room while establishing the ground game behind its dynamic duo of sophomores.

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