By Jeremy Balan
While most teams are taking bye weeks before the Academic Athletic Association and West Catholic Athletic League seasons begin, one school has the opportunity to do something a AAA team hasn’t done in a very long time — go 3-0 in non-league play.
The San Francisco Section’s current incarnation only has available non-league records going back to 2002, and only two teams have entered the AAA season unbeaten since then (Mission at 2-0 and Lowell at 1-0 in 2007).
Galileo could be the first AAA team in recent memory to sweep its three-game non-league slate, but will face its toughest opponent yet in Berean Christian of Walnut Creek on Saturday.
“The first two games we had were competitive, but not against high-caliber teams,” Galileo head coach Mark Huynh said of the Lions’ first two wins over Mills and Gonzales, which have a combined 1-4 record. “Berean Christian is legit, so winning this game would make us a true 3-0 [team].”
The Eagles (2-1) are certainly formidable, with lopsided wins against Swett and St. Patrick/St. Vincent, along with a close loss to St. Helena. Berean also beat an older, more experienced Galileo team last season 49-16.
“It was pretty bad last year,” Huynh said. “We were coming right off a very physical game against Sequoia, but we had a bye last week, so we should be fresh.”
Galileo sophomore quarterback Kyle Nelson is still growing up in the new spread offense, but took a step back against Gonzales, throwing for 147 yards on 9-of-24 passing with two interceptions.
“His reads are good, but the next step for him will be a leadership role,” Huynh said. “He gets frustrated and [against Gonzales] we had a lot of drops. He’s very competitive, so little things bother him.”
Picking up some of the slack against Gonzales was fellow sophomore Ronzel Fox. The running back has been explosive in the early season, averaging more than 10 yards per carry on the year, including a 130-yard rushing performance against Gonzales. Fox is also a leader on the defensive side of the ball, as a ball-hawking linebacker.
“He’s the man out there and he showed that in the three games he played [as a freshman],” Huynh said. “He’s really coming into his own this year.”
As many offensive weapons as the Lions have, the difference of the game may be who can make defensive stops against the other’s spread offense. The Eagles are averaging 33 points per game in the early season.
“We haven’t seen much [on tape], but we have to go by what we’ve seen in the past few years,” said Berean head coach Mark Barcelon. “They have a fast and athletic team and it’s going to be an exciting game. Both teams will be flying around, looking for ways to score.”
The day will also be of more importance to Galileo than a normal football Saturday. The school will be unveiling the Galileo Sports Hall of Fame, featuring 252 inductees at halftime.
Marshall @ McClymonds (Oakland), 7 p.m.
Marshall (1-2) is the only AAA team playing four non-league games and will face another tough road test against the defending Oakland Athletic League champions.
McClymonds (2-1) went undefeated last year, including a 54-14 win against Marshall.
Stuart Hall @ Potter Valley, 7 p.m.
Eight-man football or not, the Knights (3-0) have been one of the most pleasant surprises in the early season.
Stuart Hall has outscored opponents 114-30 in its three games, and will make the 130-mile trip to Potter Valley (2-0) to end its four-game road trip before four consecutive games in San Francisco.
Irvington (Fremont) @ Washington, 2 p.m.
After dismantling Oakland last week, the Eagles (1-1) will look to get another victory over an East Bay rival in Irvington (1-1).
Washington ran for a 401 yards against Oakland last week and edged Irvington last season on the road 28-21.