Castlemont claims its first Silver Bowl (full version)

Since the full version of my story couldn’t make it in the paper, I wanted to post that here. It includes a longer quote from Castlemont coach James Barnes, where for the second straight year he delivers a declaration at the Silver Bowl that his team will be back in the game next year.

By Jimmy Durkin
Staff writer

OAKLAND — Regardless of the result, history was going to be made at the Silver Bowl on Friday at Laney College.

Castlemont High ensured it was the one doing so, using the top-ranked defense in the East Bay to shut down Fremont and earn a 13-0 victory that gives the Knights their first-ever Silver Bowl crown.

“I want this to be a yearly reunion,” said Castlemont coach James Barnes, whose team has gone to the Silver Bowl in each of his first two years. “I think we have the team to do it. I’ll say it again, I believe we’ll be back next year.”

Fremont was also seeking its first Silver Bowl victory, but instead fell to 0-4 in the Oakland Athletic League’s championship game. The Tigers finish the year 9-3, just one season removed from a 1-9 campaign.

“It’s given us a little respect,” Fremont coach Eugene Denard said of the turnaround. “It’s let everybody know that Fremont is not going to be a doormat anymore.”

The win for Castlemont (9-2-1) gives it redemption from last year’s 8-7 loss to McClymonds in what was the Knights first Silver Bowl appearance.

“For the seniors, the people that came back from last year’s team, this season was tough,” senior defensive end Robert Krebs said. “But we didn’t want to feel that way again. We played like there’s no tomorrow.”

The defense that’s sparked the Knights all year was hit early when Fremont put a new wrinkle it its offense.

The Tigers lined up freshman quarterback Raider Dam wide, with Dionicio Espinoza taking the snap. Espinoza gave to Clordion Kennedy on an end around before he flipped to Dam, who launched a pass to tight end Sione Tupouata. Tupouata was eventually dragged down at the Castlemont 12-yard line.

But three penalties and a sack by the Knights’ Juvonte Owens backed Fremont up and Castlemont’s defense eventually held.

“It hurt big time,” Denard said of not scoring. “Momentum just killed us.”

Fremont’s defense also stepped up, stopping Castlemont quarterback Jakari Johnson on a fourth-and-goal run from the 1-yard line to keep the game scoreless near the end of the first quarter.

The Knights finally broke through when Johnson lofted a beautiful 20-yard touchdown strike that Tyrone Radford hauled in with 9:19 remaining in the second for a 6-0 lead.’

“We know the defense is going to step up and do its job,” Johnson said. “After we scored, we knew it was going to be a shutout.”

That score held up without any serious scoring threats until late in the fourth quarter.

A roughing-the-punter penalty gave Fremont second life deep in its own territory, but the Tigers couldn’t take advantage. With two minutes left in the game, they were forced to punt from their own 10. Tupouata hesitated on the kick and it banged off the helmet of Castlemont’s Atoni Sunia and deflected toward the end zone.

Krebs was able to scoop it up just before going out of bounds for the game-clinching touchdown.

Castlemont surrendered just 113 yards of offense, while getting 18 carries ffor 87 yards from Owens. Johnson finished 6-of-11 for 117 yards.

Jimmy Durkin

Jimmy Durkin is a sports writer for the Bay Area News Group.