I suppose I’m in the unique position of being one of only two reporters who was actually at the first Las Lomas/Campolindo game earlier this year, a game the Knights won 20-13. Since then I’ve seen each team multiple times, so here’s a position-by-position breakdown on tonight’s game.
Quarterback: Las Lomas QB Max Yago came of age last week, throwing for over 300 yards and spreading the ball around. He made fantastic reads and didn’t lock on to one receiver, which he’s had a problem with sometimes this year. Campolindo QB Tommy Stephens is playing unconscious right now, or at least as blissfully as a sophomore in the playoffs can. He diced up Heritage in the first round and then got to enjoy a dominant performance by the running game against Encinal. Stephens ceiling is unlimited but, for tonight, Yago’s senior leadership could make the difference. Edge: Las Lomas.
Running Back: Campolindo relies on a group of backs led by Bo Richter. Kawa Kazzaz, Anthony Rodriguez and Andreas Antono will all get carries. Richter carried the ball 35 times last week against Encinal so one has to wonder how effective he might be this week. Las Lomas RB Danny Ward comes in sporting a nice, big cast on one hand but that didn’t prevent him from rushing for over 220 yards in the Knights’ first-round win over Piedmont. He backed off the gas a little last week against Ygnacio Valley but how much of that was due to YV’s excellent run defense? If he’s right, Ward will be the best runner on the field tonight. Edge: Las Lomas.
Receivers/Tight Ends: This is the strongest unit on the field for Las Lomas. Diante Jackson, Corey Paclebar and Kevin Reed operate on the outside while Darin Thompson is a solid tight end. Don’t sleep on Campo WR Nick Mascheroni though. The kid just makes plays and has given Stephens one heck of a security blanket as he’s gotten acclimated to the varsity games. Zach Zaharoff, Luke Crossley and Miles Macy will also make their share of plays but Jackson and Paclebar will play on Saturdays. Edge: Las Lomas.
Offensive line: These are two relatively unheralded units but groups that just get the job done. Both teams have run the ball effectively all year long but Campo gets added points for going from a spread offense early in the year to an I-Formation, power running attack later in the year. Whichever line plays better tonight could decide a winner. Edge: Draw.
Defensive line: As my colleague Chace Bryson wrote in today’s Times, two-time state champion wrestler Jason Welch and his running mate Reed are a dynamic duo up front for Las Lomas. You might not find a quicker line around than the Knights, which gives them the edge when facing a shifty back like Kazzaz. Campolindo will look to Richter to try and muscle up against Lomas’ line. Edge: Las Lomas.
Linebackers: Tommy Nott and Andrew Mulherron are solid for Las Lomas but Dan Greco and Pat Nealon lead a group for Campo that flies to the ball all game long. Both units love to hit but I’ve seen Greco and Nealon dish out some serious punishment this year. Edge: Campolindo.
Defensive backs: Jackson sees some time at free safety for Las Lomas and Paclebar sees time at cornerback but if they need to be forces on offense, how much time will they get in the defensive backfield tonight? Campo CB Anthony Fadelli turned in the single-best play I’ve seen in the playoffs so far with a 102-yard interception return against Heritage. The Cougars did a great job limiting Jackson and Paclebar in the first meeting and I see no reason they couldn’t do it again tonight. Edge: Campolindo.
Special teams: The two best kickers I’ve seen this year without a doubt play for Las Lomas and Campo. The Knights turn to Andrew Shapiro and Campo relies on Giorgio Tavecchio. Shapiro also does the punting for Las Lomas. Both guys are capable of hitting a big kick at the end of the game. The edge here comes in the return game, where Paclebar is certainly in the upper echelon of kick returners in the East Bay. Edge: Las Lomas.
Coaching: Campo coach Kevin Macy has done an unbelievable job all year long, guiding his team to the 2A East Bay title game after their star QB Scott Scharff went down with a knee injury. Las Lomas coach Doug Longero has been his usual brilliant self in calling plays and Greg Biekert has done a good job with the defense. Macy and Longero are two of the best around and the chess match they engage in tonight will be something to watch. Edge: Draw.
So, there you have it. All that’s left is to play the game I suppose. Check back here prior to game time for injury updates, a taste of the scene at Las Lomas and possibly even a review of the Knights’ barbequed chicken skewers. You never know what you’re going to get here on the East Bay Prep Sports Blog.