Clayton Valley High's potent running game was too much for Concord High to handle Friday night during the North Coast Section Division II semifinal game as the Eagles won handily, 49-22.
The scene played out all night long. Clayton Valley's offensive team lines up on the field. The snapped football goes directly to running back Joe Protheroe, who runs wide to the sideline only to cut back inside, shedding tackles by Minutemen defenders on his way to a touchdown.
Protheroe amassed 268 rushing yards on 20 carries, scoring three touchdowns against the Minutemen.
“He’s unbelievable every week. His offensive line breaks holes and he usually does the rest with some amazing runs like tonight,” said Eagles first-year head coach Tim Murphy.
“My team basically helped me, my line did all for me,” said Protheroe. “They gave me holes I could basically drive trucks through and I just took advantage of it.”
The Minutemen were in the game early, matching the Eagles blow by blow in the first half. They limited the Eagles’ ground game and were tied 14-14, scoring through their passing game.
The second half started off with the Minutemen offense being unable to get a first down and the Eagles starting inside Concord’s 45-yard-line.
Eagles quarterback Michael Protheroe scored his second touchdown of the game on a sneak run, making the score 21-14.
The Eagles defense also stepped up in the second half with big interceptions, pass deflections and a fumble recovery. The defense was led by senior defensive back Cesar Luengas, who finished the game with eight tackles, one forced fumble and an interception.
“They did a great job, some really nice interceptions and they were running to the ball real well,” said Murphy. “I think after the first quarter they got going.”
After allowing 28 unanswered points, the Minutemen got back on the scoreboard with a 65-yard touchdown run by Uaisele Manoa. After the successful two-point conversion Concord trailed 49-22.
Concord High finishes the season at 10-3 and one win short of reaching the championship game for the second year in a row.
“We didn’t play very well on first down in the second half. In the first half we moved the ball pretty well, we were able to get first downs,” said Concord head coach Brian Hamilton.
Still. the coach had praise for his team.
“You tell them you love them and that you are proud of being part of their lives,” said Hamilton.
For Minutemen senior running back Olito Thompson the loss was disappointing.
“I feel like we could have been more in this game, I felt we had a really good chance,” Thompson said. “There were a lot of calls in the second half that pretty much buried us and a lot of players put their heads down.”
“It’s been a pleasure to play for this program and it has been a pleasure to be coached by amazing coaches,” he added.
The Eagles will play the winner of Saturday night’s game between Northgate High and Rancho Cotate High in the North Coast Section Division II championship game next weekend.
“It feels great, I never thought in a million years that we would be here,” said Protheroe. “Coach Murphy came in and said we were gonna go to the championship and I was just like ‘what is he talking about.’ So, to now actually be in the championship is crazy.”