Matadors hot when it matters

The Matadors (10-3) have been smoking winning three consecutive playoff games to make Saturday's 4 p.m. North Coast Section 2A title game against Novato (11-1) at the McAfee Coliseum.

The Orinda Miramonte regular season ended on a down note when it lost 21-20 at rival Campolindo on Nov. 9.


But the Matadors (10-3) have been smoking since then, winning three consecutive playoff games to make Saturday's 4 p.m. North Coast Section 2A title game against Novato (11-1) at the McAfee Coliseum.


Included in that three-game winning streak was a payback 42-7 victory at Campolindo two weeks ago.


"We've just put it together and have been playing some sound football," Matadors coach John Wade said. "We're playing arguably our best football of the season."


Wade said after the NCS East Bay seedings came out his team could see that a first-round victory against Piedmont would reward the Matadors with a rematch against Campo. Miramonte achieved that with a 13-6 triumph.


That set up the second game against Campo.


"Our kids had great focus in practice that week," Wade said. "Campolindo is only about 2 ½ miles away from our campus. All the kids from both schools grow up together. They've all known each other since they were 5 or 6 years old."


The victory against Campo put Miramonte into the NCS East Bay 2A title game against El Cerrito's high-powered offense led by Don Miguel Tutass. El Cerrito averaged 46 points and 420 yards per game, but the Matadors' defense held the Gauchos to just over 300 yards in a 33-22 win. Miramonte, for the season, held Diablo Foothill Athletic League teams to just 195.5 points per game.


Free safety Brad Peck, with 11 interceptions, leads the Matador defense.


But it will be Miramonte's offense that is under pressure Saturday against stingy Novato. The Hornets have eight shutouts, have blanked seven consecutive opponents and have given up only 42 points all season.


"It's not something that we're hyping up," Wade said of Novato's glossy defensive reputation. "If we struggle to score early, we don't want the kids thinking 'Oh no, they're going to shut us out too.' If we can get on the scoreboard early by scoring a touchdown or field goal, it will help."


Jeff Weller, moved from fullback to tailback, has rushed for about 300 total yards in the Matadors' last two games.


Another Miramonte standout is quarterback Trevor Boswell, who has thrown or 1,900 yards and 16 touchdowns, with 10 interceptions.


Novato's hard-hitting defense  is led by the front four of Jon Delmau, Chavo Mendez, Grey Keiser and Andre Shishkin. Other standouts are linebackers Danny Jones and Alex Lieu and free safety Mike Nicolini.


The Hornets offense is paced by quarterback Travis Senhaux, running back Shaun Campas and wideouts Chris Peters and Nicolini. Novato has won 11 consecutive games since a 21-3 season-opening loss to Pleasanton Foothill.


Miramonte is a bit of an underdog tonight, but it has a history of success in championship games.


The Matadors have won 10 NCS titles since 1975 and have played in seven NCS titles games in the past 10 years, winning six of them.

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