Apr. 17—It was a memorable night for St. Joseph's football program.
On Friday, the Knights beat their rival 24-0, securing their sixth straight win over Righetti.
In the process, they capped a perfect spring campaign with a 5-0 record, perhaps proving they're the top dog among teams in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.
The final damage: 192 to 20. That's the scoring margin for the Knights in the five games this spring, including three shutout wins.
Against Righetti Friday, St. Joseph did what it's done all season: Dominate in the trenches.
On offense, senior Max Stineman led St. Joseph's colossal offensive line that overpowered Righetti's quick yet undersized defense.
On defense, Stineman also led the charge at the point of attack, disrupting running and pass plays.
"He is hands down a Division I player," St. Joseph coach Pepe Villaseñor said of his 6-foot-5, 300-pound left tackle that doubles as a defensive lineman. "I've coached several Division I players — Pac-12, ACC, you name it — and the fact he doesn't have offers is baffling to me."
Stineman's play also earned praise from the opposing coach in Righetti's Tony Payne.
"I told him I'm a big fan of his, I think he's the best player I've seen on the Central Coast, almost by far," Payne said. "Max Stineman should be playing at the next level. All the tape I've seen looks like a DI highlight tape."
The Righetti offense struggled to run the ball effectively with Stineman clogging up the middle and linebacker Jayce Gamble patrolling the second level. St. Joseph defensive linemen Dylan Spies, Sebastian Ramirez and Aaron Guggia were also key near the line of scrimmage while Tyler Williams locked down the perimeter.
"They are a good team and they looked like a team that played nine games and we looked like a team that's played two games," Payne said. "We got beat in the trenches again and we weren't able to do the things that we want to do offensively. We were unable to get any momentum and they maintained the momentum the entire game."
Said Villaseñor: "The kids were disciplined, obviously. Offensively, it wasn't our best performance in terms of taking care of the ball. We didn't take advantage of opportunities, but at the end of the day, defense wins championships. I'm an offensive guy, always have been, but I'm certainly not ignorant by no means. I'll have a championship defense over a productive offense any day."
Though St. Joseph won handily, the Warriors did give the Knights their toughest challenge of the year.
Darien Langley scored from 12 yards out on the game's opening possession for a 7-0 St. Joseph lead.
Righetti went three-and-out on its first possession, but ended up recovering a St. Joseph fumble to gain some momentum. But an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty backed the Warriors up and they eventually turned the ball over on downs.
St. Joseph led just 7-0 after the first quarter.
Righetti quarterback Joaquin Cuevas was sacked on fourth down to force another change of possession early in the second.
The Knights' play-making ability then began to make a difference. Senior Tyler Williams, a UTEP signee, made a dazzling catch on a deep ball from freshman Caden Cuccia. Williams went up high over defender Elias Martinez, caught the ball and then hung on as he flipped over Martinez and to the turf.
Two plays later, Brett Burress scored from eight yards out to give St. Joseph a 14-0 lead.
The Knights, though, couldn't quite pull away. Both defenses stiffened up later in the second quarter and Brock Marcois' field goal gave St. Joseph a 17-0 lead at the break.
Righetti was hanging around, but the Warrior offense just couldn't find any rhythm passing or running against the Knights, though the Warriors had a chance to claw back in the game when Ryan Boivin recovered the second St. Joseph fumble of the night.
Adrian Ruffino, a junior running back, finally found some room to run and got the Warriors inside the St. Joseph 15.
That's when disaster struck for Righetti. On a counter run, running back Chris Miller bounced outside, then cut in and collided with an offensive lineman. The collision jarred the ball loose and Williams, perhaps the second-fastest player on the team behind Langley, scooped the ball up and took it 85 yards for a touchdown, making two defenders miss along the way.
The scoop-and-score took all the air out of the stadium and served as the game's final dramatic act.
St. Joseph ends its season 5-0 and with a 172-point scoring differential. The St. Joseph defense allowed just four points a game.
St. Joseph has won six straight against Righetti in the game known as the Battle for the Shield. St. Joseph won the 2019 meeting 22-7 and the 2018 contest 27-21. The Knights also won 40-14 in 2017, 43-7 in 2016 and 42-6 in 2015. Righetti last won in 2014, routing the Knights 37-14.
Though St. Joseph's season ends, Righetti has two more games left. The Warriors, whose season was delayed when the team went into quarantine due to a COVID-19 outbreak, will play at Arroyo Grande on Friday. They are also scheduled to play at Templeton on April 30.
Valley Christian 22, Sun Valley North Valley Military Institute 0
The Lions ended their three-game spring season with a shutout win over North Valley Military Institute.
The Lions celebrated their three seniors: Timmy Trenkle, Greg Smith and Matthew Holihan.
Trenkle caught two touchdown passes and hit a 43-yard field goal while Josiah Heller at least set the school record with a 79-yard scoring burst.
Noah List and Jacob Sanders, both freshmen, came up with timely interceptions.
Sean Swain, the Lions' sophomore quarterback, was injured and Trenkle had to fill in at quarterback.