There are so many aspects to the Central Coast Section Division III semifinal football matchup between No. 6 Burlingame (6-5) and No. 2 Terra Nova (7-4) at 7 p.m. Friday in Pacifica.
One, this will be the second meeting between these teams, as the Tigers pulled out a 29-25 win over the Panthers in Week 6. Second, there are a lot of familiar connections between the Burlingame coaching staff and the city of Pacifica, as head coach John Philipopoulos and defensive coordinator Jason Selli, among others, are Pacifica natives.
“It’s exciting to have a semifinal game with two local Peninsula teams, who have pretty good (football) traditions,” Philipopoulos said. “There’s also a big Pacifica connection. … There are so many story lines that just add to the excitement of it all. It’s going to be a great game.”
Terra Nova’s Week 6 win was a memorable one, as Tigers’ running back Jalen Camp ran wild, setting a new school record with 319 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries.
And despite that effort, it was Burlingame that found itself leading at halftime. The Panthers held a 13-0 lead after two quarters before Terra Nova came storming back in the second half, outscoring Burlingame 29-12.
Camp’s performance was not a one-off, either, as the Tigers averaged 200 yard rushing per game this season. In Terra Nova’s 35-9 first-round win over No. 7 Seaside in the first round last week, Camp nearly broke his record, rushing for 308 yards and four scores on 20 carries. Since a 52-yard effort in a league-opening 42-10 loss to Sacred Heart Prep, Camp had games of 319, 152, 153, 101 and 308 yards, with the Tigers going 4-2 over that span.
In nine games, Camp has rushed for 1,453 yards.
“He’s such a physical force,” Philipopoulos said of Camp. “He runs downhill. He has a big, strong offensive line in front of him. He never goes down on first contact.”
Burlingame features its own 1,400-yard back in junior Lucas Meredith, who has run for 1,443 yards with 19 touchdowns. Against Terra Nova Oct. 18, Meredith finished with 199 yards and four touchdowns.
For the Panthers, that loss to Terra Nova was the second gut-wrenching defeat in a row, coming on the heels of a 27-20 loss to King’s Academy the week before. Their slide hit three in a row the week after the loss to the Tigers when league champ Menlo-Atherton dismantled the Panthers, 42-0.
But when Burlingame knocked off Sacred Heart Prep, which faces Los Gatos in a Division II semifinal, 21-14 in Week 9, Philipopoulos knew his team had finally gotten over the hump.
“That was a signature win for us,” Philipopoulos said. “We had come close. We knew we were a good football team. We just kept losing close games to good football teams.”
That win over the Gators was the first of three in a row for the Panthers, who topped No. 3 Mountain View, 20-10, in the first round last week.
“To be honest, we are so proud of our kids to have heartbreak after heartbreak and to just keep believing,” Philipopoulos said. “So many other teams in this day and age would have folded. These kids kept fighting.”
Here is a look at the other playoff games involving local teams:
No. 4 Sacred Heart Prep (8-3) at No. 1 Los Gatos (10-1), 7 p.m.
The Gators grabbed a 27-7 win over No. 5 Bellarmine last week. … The Los Gatos Wildcats whipped No. 8 Live Oak, 41-7. … SHP has made the semifinals 10 out of the last 11 years. … The win over the Bells was the second WCAL win for the Gators. They beat St. Ignatius 28-21 in Week 2. … The SHP defense was ferocious against Bellarmine, sacking the quarterback six times. Thomas Hardy had three, followed by a pair from Tevita Moimoi. Cav Williams had the other. … Los Gatos finished behind league champ Wilcox in the SCVAL De Anza Division. … The Wildcats rushed for 254 yards and five touchdowns last week. … Los Gatos is averaging 37 points per game while allowing 13.
No. 4 Aptos (6-5) at No. 1 King’s Academy (8-3), 7 p.m.
The Aptos Mariners got past No. 5 San Benito 26-20 in the first round last week. … The Knights knocked off No. 8 San Mateo, 42-14. … Both teams won CCS titles last season — Aptos capturing the Open III crown, while the King’s Academy won the Division V championship. … The Mariners won three straight CCS titles from 2013 to 2015, beating Hillsdale in 2015. … Aptos is scoring an average of 30 points per game, while allowing 25. … King’s Academy rushed for more than 260 yards for the third time this year with a 364-yard performance against San Mateo. … The Knights’ first-round win over the Bearcats snapped a three-game losing streak.
No. 4 Hillsdale (8-3) at No. 1 Milpitas (5-6), 7 p.m.
The Knights nipped No. 5 Soquel 10-0 last week. … The Milpitas Trojans handled No. 8 Overfelt, 24-14. … Hillsdale is in the semifinals for the second time in three seasons. … The Knights defense posted its second shutout of the season last week, holding Soquel to just 77 yards of offense. … Hillsdale running back Nate Iskander had his run of 200-yard games ended last week at four in a row. He still managed to gouge Soquel for 181. … Milpitas has been in the Open or Division I championship game three times since winning the 2013 DI title. The Trojans last made a finals appearance in 2017. … Milpitas won its last three regular-season games to qualify for CCS.
No. 5 Wilcox (9-2) at No. 1 Serra (10-1), 1 p.m.
The Wilcox Chargers took down No. 4 Menlo-Atherton in overtime last week, 42-35. … The Padres pulled away from Half Moon Bay for a 42-14 victory. … Wilcox is the defending 3-A state champion. … The Chargers’ two losses — Valley Christian and Pittsburg — are two teams Serra has beaten this season. … Wilcox running back Paul Rosa is wrapping up a stellar high school career. With 1,599 yards rushing this season, Rosa has 4,782 yards over a three-year varsity career. … Chalk up last week’s win to the Serra defense. The Padres gave up a pair of first-half touchdowns, but turned things around in the second half. They held HMB to 264 yards of offense and picked off three passes, returning one for a score.