It's safe to assume that Foothill High senior Griffith Gates has a high football IQ to go along with his running and hitting power.

Pennsylvania football coach Al Bagnoli recently offered his stamp of approval.

After Bagnoli met with Gates and his parents at their home, "Griff" orally committed with the Quakers on the Ivy League on Jan. 17.

"Bagnoli told him that he is a tremendously versatile athlete and could play any number of six positions for Penn," Griffith's dad Peter said in an email to the Buzzer. "It would be up to Griffith where he wanted to focus his efforts and compete for playing time as a freshman."

A big factor in Gates' decision was he recently received a "Likely Letter" from Penn stating that he'd met their requirements for admission to Penn's undergraduate business program at prestigious Wharton School. Ivy League schools can't offer athletic scholarships.

Gates called landing a Wharton spot "fantastic" and was impressed by how much Penn tried to get him financial aide.

"I guess that was really a tipping point and how much I just loved the coaches," Gates said of his decision to go there. "It was always looking like Penn, and I'd always wanted to go to Penn, but the issue was whether my family could afford it or not."

Gates visited the school on Dec. 9 and came away impressed.

"Yeah," Gates said. "My dad played for Yale and he would always talk to me about the Yale-Harvard game. I love the idea of playing for the Ivies. You can have a great time playing 10 games, but it's not really a business because Ivy Leagues stay away from the business side of it. The players I met there, they all love to play the game. They turned down some scholarship offers because they saw what I saw."

Gates, a six-time North Coast Section Scholar Athlete, had offers from Sacramento State and the Air Force Academy and preferred walk-on offers from UCLA, Boston College and UC Davis. Cal Poly told him that they might offer him a scholarship.

But the powerful Penn sports-academic package seems tough to top. The Quakers won their third outright Ivy League football title in the past four years in 2012.

Gates, who is 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds, excelled at fullback and defensive end with the Falcons, running for 1,643 yards and amassing 239 tackles and 29 sacks over three varsity seasons. He made seven tackles, had half a sack and blocked a kick as the starting outside linebacker for the North at the Cal State All Star Game on Dec 22.

LIVERMORE GETS KICKS IN: The Livermore girls soccer program has kicked into gear this season.

The Cowboys entered the week with six victories overall for the first time in coach Jason Maratsos' four years heading the program. They have wins over Monte Vista and Amador Valley and a tie against San Ramon Valley, after having lost six in a row against the Wolves.

Cowboys freshman Tori Nicolo got both assists in the 2-1 victory over the Dons on Jan. 17, which helped soothe Livermore's wounds from a 1-0 loss against rival Granada on Jan. 15.

"She is going to be a player to watch in this league over the next three years," Maratsos said of Nicolo on Jan. 17.

A young Granada squad gave unbeaten San Ramon Valley a battle in the Matadors' 1-0 loss on Jan. 17 in a battle for first place. So the whole Livermore female soccer fraternity is on an uptick.

DONS DUO HAS HOT FEET: Amador Valley junior girls soccer players Andie Boehm and Kiana Rastrou entered the week tied with San Ramon Valley's Alexa Vandevanter for the scoring league in the EBAL, each with five goals.

Another trio had four goals apiece, Granada's Katie Lortie, California's Marisa Rodrigues and San Ramon Valley's Kristen Pavlick.

GOOD-HEARTED: The Amador Valley baseball team will be collecting serviceable sports equipment to be donated to the TLC for Kids sports program on Feb. 9-10, 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Dons' baseball diamond parking lot.

For more information about TLC for Kids, visit http://www.tlcforkidssports.org.

Contact Matt Schwab at mschwab@bayareanewsgroup.com or visit him on Twitter at twitter.com/schwab_matt.

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