CCS Champs!

Posted: December 5, 2008

Dennis Knight, Mercury News

The hole opened in the Valley Christian defense and Usua Amanam saw a clear path to the end zone, and to the Central Coast Section title that had eluded the Bells since 1990.

Amanam quickly cut to the outside and high tailed it to the end zone, with the Warriors defense unable to close the gap. His 88-yard second quarter touchdown was his second of three in a spectacular night as the Bells beat Valley Christian 21-0 in the Central Coast Section Open Division final Friday in front of a crowd of about 8,000 at San Jose City College.

Bellarmine fans might have been wondering how the Stanford-bound Amanam could top the 88-yard dash - but he managed to outdo himself with a 94-yard jaunt with 3:20 remaining in the third quarter.

“I’ve been caught from behind a couple times this season, which had never happened before,” said Amanam, an accomplished sprinter, who rushed for 257 yards and three scores in 19 carries. “So I had been working on it with my coaches, making sure not to look back at the defense and act like I was running in track - and they couldn’t catch me tonight.”

It was the fourth CCS title in Bellarmine history, and first since 1990 - before most of the Bells players were born.

“We told them about that in a meeting this week,” said Mike Janda, in his 25th season as the Bells head coach. “We talked about how special it would be for them to leave a legacy like this.”

Bellarmine (12-1) got out of the gate quickly marching 67 yards in 10 plays on its first possession of the game. The Bells stayed on the ground for nine plays and Janda decided to go for it on 4th and 1 on the Warrior 31. Amanam carried the ball around right end and was at the sideline in a flash, he turned it up field and extended the ball across the end zone as the defense converged on him for the first score.

Kevin Danser and the Bellarmine paved the way again for Amanam, who rushed for 271 yards last week against Serra.

“Valley Christian was blitzing like crazy all night and once I got to the second level, it was lights out,” Amanam said. “The line was opening huge holes, they did all the work.”

The 94-yard run came after Valley Christian’s Cory Gambello pinned the Bells on their own one-yard line. Amanam carried for five yards on first down, before breaking through a host of would be tacklers and into the open field. Speedy freshman Byron Marshall was right on Amanam’s tail but couldn’t get to him.

“We were thinking of getting a long drive going to eat up the clock,” Amanam said. “But on that play (quarterback) Austyn (Carta-Samuels) gets out and blocks. He told me he was going to spring me in the huddle - and he came through with the block that helped me go the distance.”

The Bellarmine defense did an excellent job containing Valley Christian’s standout senior Cameron Marshall, who rushed for 72 yards in 20 carries. Bells linebackers Michael Clay, Joe Sever and Geo Shannon were all making big plays.

“We didn’t do a lot of hitting this week, we just worked on technique - but we knew their playbook inside out,” Clay said. “Our defensive line manhandled them up front and that got us free to make some tackles.”

The Warriors (11-2) came right back on their first possession driving into Bellarmine territory. But on the first play of the second quarter on the Bells 21 yard line, Gambello’s pass to the end zone was tipped by Amanam and picked off by Mike Dirkson. On the first play of the fourth quarter the Warriors tried a reverse pass with Byron Marshall launching the surprise throw downfield, but Amanam made a nice play tipping the ball to Mitchell Loquaci who made the interception.

The Bells hopes for a State Bowl bid are still up in the air. Bellarmine was hoping that Grant-Sacramento would lose to Burbank-Sacramento, but Grant led 35-0 at the half.

A selection committee will choose the Northern California Representative in a meeting on Dec. 14, but Bells quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels (5 of 10 for 69 yards) believes his squad should make the trip.

“I don’t know how you can’t give us the state berth - we just showed what kind of team we were tonight,” Carta-Samuels said. “Our defense shutout one of the best offenses around and we’ve got one of the best backs in the State in Usua. If that doesn’t show we can play with the big boys, I don’t know what does.”

Valley Christian 0 0 0 0 0
Bellarmine 7 7 7 0 21

B - Amanam 31 run (Parrette kick)
B - Amanam 88 run (Parrette kick)
B - Amanam 94 run (Parrette kick)
Records: Bellarmine 12-1; Valley Christian 11-2.

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