EL SOBRANTE -- A blowout was predicted and a blowout ensued Saturday night at De Anza High in El Sobrante.
The only thing wrong with the predictions concerned the winning and losing teams.
Sacred Heart Prep, which was supposed to have no chance against heavily favored El Cerrito, will be taking part in the state Division III championship game in Carson after a 42-7 win over the Gauchos in the Northern California regional final.
The Gators will play Corona Del Mar, a 24-8 winner over Nordhoff in the Southern California final, on Saturday at noon.
"This is amazing, 42-7, this is crazy," Sacred Heart Prep coach Pete Lavorato said. "But it's not a fluke. The kids hit hard. We got some respect."
Lavorato made liberal use of standout linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven at running back. And Burr-Kirven, who had been used sparingly at running back previously, made the decision look like a stroke of genius by running for four touchdowns and gaining 160 yards on 15 carries.
"I don't think they expected us to come out and hit like we did," Burr-Kirven said. "To be NorCal champs is great. But to go and play for the state championship is like 'Friday Night Lights' or something."
Sacred Heart Prep (13-1) was able to easily attain both of its objectives coming into the game. SHP's defense, the team's strength over the past two years, had no difficulty containing the explosive El Cerrito offense, which had averaged 53 points per game in the North Coast Section playoffs. What's more, the Gators knocked out El Cerrito quarterback Keilan Benjamin and his backup, Jalen Harvey.
And when they had the ball, the Gators were able to establish the run at will, building a 21-0 lead at halftime without throwing a pass.
Sacred Heart Prep's defense forced a three-and-out on the first possession of the game, and the SHP offense promptly drove 63 yards on seven running plays with Burr-Kirven scoring on a 9-yard run.
The defense came up with a fumble recovery on the next El Cerrito possession, and the offense struck quickly. A 21-yard run by flyback Chris Lee set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Andrew Segre, who gained 98 yards on 19 carries. The PAT by Riley Tinsley made the score 14-0 with 3:32 left in the first quarter.
Burr-Kirven's 44-yard touchdown run on a second-and-13 play increased the lead to 21-0 with 2:20 left in the second quarter.
The Gators took the second-half kickoff and went 61 yards for the third Burr-Kirven touchdown, this one from 1 yard out. Burr-Kirven's 36-yard run was the key play on the drive.
El Cerrito (12-3), with both quarterbacks out, went to a modified single wing to start the third quarter with star running back Adarius Pickett taking the direct snap. The Gauchos put together a 65-yard, eight-play drive with Pickett scoring on a 12-yard run to break up the shutout.
But after forcing a Sacred Heart Prep punt, El Cerrito fumbled on its next possession, linebacker Andrew Robinson recovered and the Gators cashed in on Burr-Kirven's fourth touchdown, a 7-yard run to put any thoughts of an El Cerrito comeback on hold.
A 47-yard pass from Mason Randall to Mitch Martella made it 42-7 with 7:12 left.
SACRED HEART PREP 42, EL CERRITO 7
Sacred Heart Prep 14 "7 "14 "7--42
El Cerrito 0 "0 "7 "0 -- 7
SHP -- Burr-Kirven 9 run (Tinsley kick)
SHP -- Segre 1 run (Tinsley kick)
SHP -- Burr-Kirven 44 run (Tinsley kick)
SHP -- Burr-Kirven 1 run (Tinsley kick)
EC -- Pickett 12 run (Smith kick)
SHP -- Burr-Kirven 7 run (Tinsley kick)
SHP -- Martella 47 pass from Randall (Tinsley kick)
Records -- Sacred Heart Prep 13-1; El Cerrito 12-3.