Football: Mission’s defense stands strong late against Lowell in AAA semis

Mission's defense swarms to stop Lowell quarterback Michael McCarthy in the AAA semifinals on Thursday at Kezar Stadium. (Photo by Aaron Perez)

Mission's defense swarms to stop Lowell quarterback Michael McCarthy in the AAA semifinals on Thursday at Kezar Stadium. (Photo by Aaron Perez)

By Jeremy Balan

Mission High School’s defense was far from dominant against Lowell in the Academic Athletic Association semifinals, but when the Bears needed it, they got the stops.

After Lowell scored on the first possession of the second half to cut the Mission lead to 28-24, the Cardinals recovered an onside kick and appeared to seize momentum, but the Mission defense held strong and didn’t allow a point for the rest of the game to lead the Bears to a 42-24 win on Thursday at Kezar Stadium.

Lowell junior quarterback Michael McCarthy eyes the Mission defense in the AAA semifinals on Thursday at Kezar Stadium. (Photo by Aaron Perez)

Following the onside kick, the Bears (8-3) forced a punt after a Lowell three-and-out, then stopped the Cardinals (5-5) on the Mission 5-yard line midway through the fourth quarter and forced another turnover on downs in Mission territory with 1:34 remaining.

“We bent but didn’t break,” said Mission head coach Joe Albano. “They were coming up with some big runs, came out with some different formations and ran the ball down our throats, but we eventually got stronger and stopped them.”

The Cardinals came out with an entirely different game plan than last week’s 20-0 loss to Mission, primarily running junior quarterback Michael McCarthy on direct-snap, straight-forward runs.

In his first start of the season, McCarthy ran for 199 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries, played the entire game at cornerback on defense, and also recovered the Lowell onside kick, as the kicker.

“He does everything for us, and was our starting quarterback heading into the season, but he does so many other things,” said Lowell head coach Danny Chan. “He’s going to be featured next year, and he’s going to have to put on some pounds and we’ll see what happens back there.”

The change in game plan visibly surprised the Bears, who held the Lowell double-wing rushing attack to less than 100 yards last week.

“It wasn’t there at all last week,” Albano said. “It was brand new, and God bless those guys for coming out with that.”

McCarthy was the game’s most consistent runner, but to put the game away, Mission took a page out of the Lowell playbook.

Every play Mission called in the fourth quarter was a run by senior quarterback Davon Hargraves, who scored on runs of 25 and 76 yards in the final frame.

Mission quarterback Davon Hargraves runs behind a pair of blockers against Lowell in the AAA semifinals on Thursday at Kezar Stadium. (Photo by Aaron Perez)

“We just tried to spread them out and run the ball with him,” Albano said. “He wants the ball in crunch time, so I’ll give him the ball.”

Hargraves finished with 173 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries and also threw for 90 yards and a touchdown on 7-of-10 passing.

“This year, the seniors just had to step it up,” Hargraves said. “A lot of stuff wasn’t going our way, so we had to make the plays.”

Lowell’s season ends with the loss, but following a 1-8 season in 2010, the Cardinals got back on track in 2011.

“It was just fun to see our guys up for this game. It was probably the best game we’ve played this year,” Chan said. “We were right there until the end.”

The Mission win sets up a showdown in the AAA championship game with Washington in a battle of the best two teams in the league for the past two years. Mission will look to claim its first AAA title since 1954.

“It’s just great to see the kids get excited about playing with each other and as a team, and enjoying this moment on the field,” Albano said. “That was a great football game and I’m proud I was part of it. Lowell played their asses off. From the team we played last week to what they looked like this week was totally different.”

Scoring Summary

First Quarter
M: 4:56 — Algeron Malbrough 7-yard pass from Davon Hargraves (conversion failed)
L: 3:00 — Michael McCarthy 52-yard run (McCarthy run on conversion)
M: 0:14 — Antoine Porter 49-yard run (conversion failed)

Second Quarter
M: 7:46 — Porter 52-yard interception return (Porter run on conversion)
L: 1:49 — McCarthy 7-yard run (Luke Gonhes run on conversion)
M: 1:05 — Hargraves 11-yard run (Malbrough pass from Hargraves on conversion)

Third Quarter
L: 7:08 — McCarthy 5-yard run (McCarthy run on conversion)

Fourth Quarter
M: 11:53 — Hargraves 25-yard run (Malbrough pass from Hargraves on conversion)
M: 3:46 — Hargraves 76-yard run (conversion failed)

Be Sociable, Share!

About the Author

Editor of

28 Comments on "Football: Mission’s defense stands strong late against Lowell in AAA semis"

  1. turkeyday bound

    • You mean Turkey day loss cuz yall could barely even score against us…… WASH HOUSE ALL DAY!!!

      • aye W-House. u must be a player talking all that smack. haha aye u must not be factor to the team other than keeping the side line awake..
        even though yall won last time never means you gonna win again.

  2. when is turkey day and what time.

  3. where can you find those pics from the mission vs lowell game?

  4. we gon see who gon lose on tday

    • YOU ARE cuz mission got nobody good…..just lucky, and your recievers couldnt even catch against us………

      • who is W-house..cause u must of not seen or read the news papper. who made the front cover for the news paper in the sports section.? #4 from mission. [not wash] who is the top linebacker in the city AAA with the top deffence in the leauge. #4 from mission [not wash]

  5. can AAA teams go to CIF state?

    • Technically yes, but in the current system, it’s hard to imagine a AAA team making a state bowl game, even if it goes undefeated. See what happened to McClymonds last season. 12-0 and an OAL championship, but didn’t get a shot at a state championship.

      • I wouldn’t say the current system is flawed, but I think some things should be tweaked just a little. It’s sad to see McClymonds went undefeated and won the OAL, but didn’t get to play in a state championship game. However, I do understand why.

        It will be hard for AAA and the OAL to sneak their way into a state championship game, even if their respective league champions go undefeated. In comparison to the other sections in Northern California (CCS, NCS, Northern, and San Joaquin), both the AAA and the OAL are the smallest sections, thus, possibly the reason why it’s difficult for these sections to send teams to the state championships.

        CCS, NCS, Northern, and the San Joaquin Sections consists of numerous leagues that span across multiple counties, so it makes sense that these sections get the top priority when it comes to playing in the state championships. Not to mention, at this point and time, the teams in these sections are better.

        Unfortunately, this is where the AAA and OAL shoot themselves in the foot. Both leagues only field teams within their respective cities. If I’m not mistaken, there were talks at one time to dissolve the OAL and have the Oakland schools play in the NCS. If this were to occur, it would benefit the Oakland schools (and would’ve helped McClymonds’ football team last year) because they will have a better chance of going to the state championships.

        SI, Leadership, University, SHC, Gateway, etc, were smart to join leagues that are in the bigger sections (NCS and the CCS) to increase their chances to going to a state championship. Unless, AAA and the OAL follow suit, or dare I say, combine the two sections, their chances of sending a team to a state championship, no matter how good the team does, are very slim.

        • AAA-OAL did combine the section for track in late 80’s and didn’t work out. And also the OAL staff is that stable as well.

          • Mickey Blue Eyes | November 19, 2011 at 10:44 PM |


            just so you know SI and SHC were a part of teh AA until the late 60s when both schools were beginning to draw form suburbs and also the rise of Catholics getting stronger and also wanting to play otehr Catholic schools. SI actually left the AA a year or so before SHC did and joined the WCAL, which had powerhouses Bellarmine and Saint Francis already in teh league and bringing on the new additions of Serra, Mitty and finally ending with Riordan and SHC joining by the late 1960s

            • Mickey Blue Eyes: I am aware that SI and SHC were apart of the AAA and left in 1968 and 1969 respectively to join the WCAL. Both schools were dominant in the AAA. They left partly due to the fact that the AAA had (and still has) recruiting restrictions. The WCAL doesn’t have these same recruiting restrictions so they left.

              • Instead of recruiting, I think you mean enrollment. SI and SHC can draw from outside the City. The AAA can’t. Recruiting implies active involvement to entice a student to come to the school. That almost can never be substantiated.

              • JB: Yes, we’ll go with enrollment which is probably the better term. However, I’m pretty sure recruiting is done. How did Mr. Miles go from Balboa to SH?

              • Unsubstantiated, like I said.

              • I’m pretty sure we can find the proof. There are always ways of finding out the truth!

              • Mickey Blue Eyes | November 20, 2011 at 9:10 AM |

                GCJ you saying SI and SHC dominated the AAA is a joke. If you look atr teh history of both programs they were miles behind the powerhouses of Poly, Lincoln and Washington of their time. The problem with the AAA and why SI and SHC left for the WCAL is the competition in the late 60s was dwindling most in part due to not only restrictions with regards to participation but also the bureaucratic mess that the SFUSD has turned into. It is this bureaucratic mess that has many families that live in San Francisco and can not afford to send kids to a private school are seeking alternatives in suburbs and moving out. One other thing, I think you need to stop and look at the AA and I will tell you one thing. Recruiting in teh AAA is just as rampant as in the privates. I think Lowell recruits more than either SHC or SI combined. But yet Lowell is OK to recruit and for SI and SHC it is a sin…

              • What proof do you have of recruiting?

                I’m tired of hearing this. If you have some sort of evidence of recruiting, feel free to share, but if you don’t, it sounds like sour grapes.

              • Miles probably left Balboa due to Keith Minor leaving to coach at St.Mary’s-Berkeley

              • Mickey Blue Eyes:

                If you’re speaking in terms of football, you are correct. Polytech was a powerhouse in football. HOWEVER, I was speaking in terms of the sports programs across the board.

                In the big three sports (football, basketball, and baseball) SI and SH (particularly SI) were more dominant across the board. Polytech was only dominant in football.

                Football Championships:

                Polytech: 15
                SI: 6
                SH: 0

                Basketball Championships:
                SI: 9
                Polytech & SH: 5

                Baseball Championships:
                SH: 9
                SI: 7
                Polytech: 4

                Polytech: 24 (most of which came as a result of football)
                SI: 22

                As for the reason why SI and SH left, part of it was due to the competition, however, enrollment played a major part in it as well. I’ve examined the AAA many times; especially since I played in the league. Both Lowell and Lincoln have been accused of recruiting players, but as JB said, proof is needed before we can fault them of any wrong-doing.

            • Riordan has been in the same league as Bellarmine, Serra, and St. Francis, since St. Francis was opened in the late 50’s.

              All four were in the C.A.L. (Catholic Athletic League) with St. Joseph’s, St. Mary’s (B), St. Elizabeth’s, and Bishop O’Dowd until the W.C.A.L. (West Catholic Athletic League) was split off from the C.A.L. in 1967.

              Mitty joined with St. Francis, Serra, Bellarmine, and Riordan to form the W.C.A.L. St. Ignatius moved from the A.A.A. to the W.C.A.L. for the first season of W.C.A.L. sports in 1967-1968. St. Mary’s (B) played football in the W.C.A.L. for a season or two in the W.C.A.L. before Sacred Heart joined the W.C.A.L.

          • Anonymous: Did the AAA-OAL combine in any other sports other than track in 1980? Also, I’m guessing you meant that the OAL staff is NOT that stable.

            • @GCJ101 – Yes i was typing to fast OAL staff IS NOT STABLE AT ALL. And to the best of my knowledge that was the only sport that combined.

              • It happens to the best of us! Thanks for the info….it’s good to know. I actually looked into this and the AAA has combined with other leagues in the past in track and field. However, they did so when the AAA was the SFAL (San Francisco Athletic League).

Comments are closed.