Playing the best they have all year, the Berkeley Yellowjackets destroyed Encinal on Friday night, forcing five turnovers and holding the Jets to 103 yards of offense in a 47-0 win.
The ’Jackets (4-3 overall, 3-0 ACCAL) were a team on a mission against the Jets, and it showed in their pure aggression in all facets of the game. They scored on plays of 45, 29, 23 and 20 yards on offense, as well as getting their first defensive touchdown of the season, a 75-yard interception return by linebacker Leonard Scarborough in the third quarter. The Berkeley defense was flying all over the field, punishing the Encinal running backs every time they touched the ball and breaking up several passes with huge hits.
“I can’t imagine it happening any better for us,” Berkeley head coach Matt Bissell said. “One player makes a good play, and it’s contagious. Everyone wants to get it on it. It’s like a mob mentality.”
The game was clearly out of hand by the second half, and the Encinal (3-4, 3-2) coaches waved the white flag by asking the officials to let the clock run before the fourth quarter began.
The ’Jackets had their long passing game working on Friday, with quarterback Raymond Pinkston hooking up with wideout Sean Young for nearly identical touchdown passes of 45 and 29 yards, both fly patterns into the right corner of the end zone. Young, who runs the 40 in 4.5 seconds, has become the deep threat that the ‘Jackets need to keep teams from ganging up on their stable of running backs.
“Raymond and I are just hooked up right now. We practice it all the time and now we’ve got it down perfectly,” Young said.
The one-two punch of tailbacks Germaine Baird and Craig Hollis has become a potent one. Baird ran for 95 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries, while Hollis crammed 72 yards and a score into just four carries. Throw in fullbacks Aaron Boatwright and Roger Mason, who each scored touchdowns themselves, and the ’Jackets piled up 228 yards on the ground.
But while the offense has come to life in the last four games, the Berkeley defense really broke through with a big game against a tough opponent. Besides the five turnovers, the ’Jackets held Encinal’s senior running back, DeAndre Geen, to just 68 yards on 21 carries, and completely shut down the Jets’ passing game, allowing just five completions for 15 yards.
Several Berkeley players said the game was a statement directed at ACCAL rival Pinole Valley, the league’s other undefeated team. The two will clash in two weeks in the regular season finale for both teams.
“We want Pinole to look at this score and know we ain’t backing down,” said linebacker Akeem Brown, who had a forced fumble and a fumble recovery on Friday. “We want them to know we’re coming for them.”
“It’s just between us and Pinole now,” defensive end/kicker Greg Mitchell said. “We thought this would be a big game, but now we know it’s all about the last game.”
Bissell said he wants his players to concentrate on next week’s game against Richmond, but realizes that may be unrealistic.
“Obviously we’ve got the Pinole game looming ahead of us, so it’s hard not to look past Richmond,” he said. “But we’ve got our eyes on the league title, and we have to take it one game at a time.”
NOTES: The Berkeley-De Anza game postponed earlier this season will not be rescheduled, the league announced this week... In junior varsity action, Berkeley defeated Encinal 24-12 on Friday.