Most football teams with a 10-1 record and in the North Coast Section Division III quarterfinals would have the respect of the East Bay. But that’s not the case for Bishop O’Dowd this season.
Many feel the Dragons are a product of a soft schedule, which included opponents that went a combined 46-67.
O’Dowd’s only loss was a blowout, 40-13, to Hayward Area Athletic League champion San Leandro.
The Pirates finished the season 7-4 — the best record out of any opponent the Dragons have played thus far.
So, many believe the No. 4 seeded Dragons are pretenders and not contenders to win the NCS crown.
But Bishop O’Dowd will have a chance to open the eyes of all the doubters with a victory on Saturday.
The Dragons, coming off their first playoff victory since winning the NCS 2-A title in 2004, will host No. 5 Marin Catholic (8-3) at 1 p.m. in the NCS Division III quarterfinals.
The Wildcats finished in second place in the Marin County Athletic League. It’s only loss in league play came to the No. 3 seed in the NCS Division III field, Novato (9-2). Marin lost to St. Ignatius-San Francisco (5-5) and Notre Dame Prep-Arizona (12-0) outside of league play.
“They are very solid and well coached,” Dragons coach Paul Perenon said of the Wildcats. “The scariest team we played all year was Hayward in terms of talent and speed. The team we are playing (Saturday) is like Hayward minus the speed. But I think (Marin Catholic’s) line plays better and is a little more disciplined and they probably play harder on offense than Hayward does.”
Stopping the Wildcats offense starts by slowing down their 6-foot, 210-pound brusing tailback, Nico Dumont.
The senior has rushed for 963 yards and 14 TDs in 11 games this season.
The Wildcats don’t run an exact Wing-T offense, but do run plenty of misdirection plays that cause problems for defenders that overpursue.
“We have to be patient defensively,” Perenon said. “We have to stay home and let their misdirection stuff come back to us.”
The formula for the Dragons’ offensive success has been simple this season — get the ball into the hands of tailbacks Mario Brown and Che’rod Simpson.
Brown, a gamebreaker, led the HAAL in rushing this season, finishing with 1,462 yards and 20 TDs in 10 games. He ran for 210 yards and a TD on 15 carries in last week’s 35-14 victory over Tamalpais.
Simpson, a brusing back, was fourth in the HAAL with 969 yards and 10 TDs.
“It’s not going to be anything different than what we have done all year long,” Perenon said. “We are going to play to the strength of our football team.”
And the Dragons are anxious to show the doubters just how strong they are.