Pittsburg tops Granite Bay in NorCal title game

Pirates’ solid defense limits the Grizzlies to only 14 points


Katie Cologna

Jack Powers, 5, and the Grizzly defense hold tight in the first quarter.


  It never really gets cold in Granite Bay, but 43 degrees fahrenheit is enough to numb your toes and get your breath to condensate.

  It’ll get your muscles to tense after sitting for too long, your fingers to lose mobility and your nose to run – and when you’re down 17 points at halftime, it feels a little colder than 43.

  As Granite Bay High School faced off against Pittsburg High on Saturday night in the NorCal Div. 1A championship, a dormant rivalry was awoken.

  “We have a history,” Pittsburg coach Victor Galli said. “And we’re 1-4 against these guys, so the history has been on their side.”

  But all of that didn’t matter after kickoff, and the Pittsburg Pirates played every bit like the top 20 state-ranked team they are.

Katie Cologna
Pittsburg lines up to kick a field goal in the middle of the second quarter.

  “(The Tribe) put a little billboard material up there that said ‘Pittsburg ain’t ready’ (and) it was good, because Pittsburg was ready,” Galli said. “We flipped the script.”

  The season that Granite Bay constructed was far from scripted though.

  Coach Jeff Evans led the Grizzlies from a 4-7 record a year ago to a 12-3 Sac Joaquin Section Div. 2 title-winning season, and in the heat of it all, Evans didn’t lose an ounce of his composure.

  After the final second ticked off the clock in the fourth quarter, and a 37-14 loss would conclude the Grizzlies’ season, Evans and some of his coaching staff individually congratulated each Pittsburg player as they passed.

  “They run similar to what they used to run,” Galli said. “They’re good. This is a good football team. We should be proud of this win tonight.”

  Granite Bay showed signs of life in the second half by recovering a blocked punt for a touchdown and a 29-yard scoring connection between tight end Ryan Smith and quarterback Jade Foddrill.

Katie Cologna
Ryan Smith dives for the pylon after carrying a defender five yards.

  But every time the Grizzlies scored, quarterback Justin Boyd and the Pittsburg offense answered right back.

  “It feels good to be here,” Boyd said. “We worked so hard to get here.”

  Even after the big win, it is routine as usual for the Pirates as Boyd said the team will prepare for next week by getting back in the film room, studying, lifting and working harder.

  As for Granite Bay, the nostalgia of a concluding season began to set in as tears fluttered down the cheeks of players and parents.

  “We learned from our mistakes last year and just tried to set a nice foundation for the next guys to come,” senior defensive back Ryan Fina said.

  A four-year member of the football program, Fina, like many of his teammates, lined up for his last time in a Grizzly uniform on Saturday.

  “I’m going to miss it, it’s not going to happen again and I have to move on with life,” Fina said.

  The end of the season marks only the fifth time in the program’s 21-year history that a Grizzly team reached 12 wins.

  “We left our hearts on the field — we played for each other, our effort was there but our execution wasn’t,” Granite Bay tight end and linebacker Matt Solone said. “I’ll remember this season forever.”