Page One

Playoff spot still to be determined

By Sean Gates Daily Planet Correspondent
Friday November 10, 2000



This race is too close to call. Sound familiar? 

The Berkeley High Yellowjackets (5-5, 5-1 ACCAL) rolled to a 34-13 win over the Alameda Hornets (5-4, 2-4), to clinch a share of the ACCAL championship. But there’s a catch: entering into this week’s games, Berkeley found itself in a tie for first place with Pinole Valley and El Cerrito.  

If Pinole Valley and El Cerrito also win their regular season finales, a three-way tie for first in the ACCAL occurs with just one North Coast Section Playoff berth up for grabs. The remaining four coaches in the league would then vote for who they think deserves that berth. If there is still a tie in the vote by the coaches, ACCAL commissioner John Nules would make the deciding playoff pick. And you thought Al Gore and George W. Bush had it tough. 

Of course, none of this would have mattered if Berkeley didn’t win Thursday. Alameda’s first offensive play from scrimmage reminded the ‘Jackets of that when Hornet tight end Chris Cheng found himself wide open for a 46-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Steve Pagones. But Berkeley outscored the Hornets 34-6 points for the remainder of the game and sailed to a conference championship. 

"We’re even a better team than what we showed in the last couple of weeks," stated ’Jackets running back Ramone Reed, and it’s hard to imagine a hotter team than Berkeley, which closed out the regular season with five victories in their last six games. Reed lived up his capabilities by rushing for 242 yards and scoring two touchdowns. But an 88-yard dash by Reed with four minutes remaining in the first half was called back because of a holding penalty.  

In fact, penalties marred an otherwise solid performance by the ‘Jackets. Whistled 11 times for 100 yards, Berkeley had two touchdowns erased due to the dreaded yellow hanky, as a 20-yard touchdown pass from Anthony Franklin to Charles West on a wide receiver option was also nullified because of holding. 

One thing Berkeley did ensure was that Alameda wouldn’t put too many points on the scoreboard. After giving up the early touchdown to Cheng, Berkeley’s defense didn’t allow another touchdown by the Hornet offense. The Yellowjackets swarmed the Hornets and produced two interceptions by Anthony Franklin, a fumble recovery by Dwaine McFadden, and two turnovers on downs. The only other score by Alameda would be a 75-yard kickoff return by Ryan Smith with 8:42 left in the fourth quarter. On this night, the Yellowjackets — not the Hornets — created all the buzz. 

While Reed dominated the rushing attack, other players stepped up for Berkeley when they needed a big play. Wide receiver Chavallier Patterson opened up the second half scoring blitz with a 29-yard touchdown reception down the left sideline on a beautiful pass from quarterback Muhammed Nitoto, who ran for a score on a sneak in the second quarter. Running back Germey Baird closed out the ‘Jacket scoring with a five-yard TD rush with nine minutes left in the game. 

The Yellowjackets sit atop the ACCAL. It is a remarkable turnaround considering Berkeley started the season with four consecutive losses. Will they make the playoffs? The votes have yet to be tallied. It’s almost like trying to elect a president… only this one wears shoulder pads to work and could care less about the Sunshine State.