Yet another dominant defensive performance helped Salesian earn its fourth North Coast Section title in the last five years on Friday.
The Pride defeated St. Helena 14-7 in the championship game of the NCS Division V playoffs at Alhambra High. It capped an impressive season in which the team won 12 games and lost just one, and went 6-0 in the TCAL-Rock division.
On Tuesday, Salesian Head Coach Chad Nightingale praised his defense, but added “you don’t win 12 games without being solid on all phases” including offense and special teams.
But defense was key. Against a resilient St. Helena, the Pride gave up 52 yards rushing and 81 yards passing, Nightingale recalled.
“Our defense has been stingy all year long,” he said. “Even against our best opponents: McClymonds High ran for 58 yards. St. Mary’s ran for 63 years. It’s been solid all year.”
One of the obvious defensive stars was Prentiss Reid, who was named the TCAL-Rock division’s defensive player of the year. Junior lineman Galuega Toailoa and senior linebacker Vegas Shackleford were also chosen as first-team on defense.
A Nightingale stated, Salesian did plenty of damage on offense too. Pride stars who made first-team on offense in the TCAL-Rock division included sophomore wide receiver Dewayne Dixon and senior running back Charles Hillary.
Seniors John Schilt, Chris Williams and Elijah Willis, junior Nick Mangle and sophomores Alex Hutinson, Jaylen Tregle, Dalonie Crater and Alex Hutchinson were chosen as honorable mentions this season.
The team benefited from a large senior class, Nightingale said.
“There isn’t just one kid that dominated both one side or the other side of the ball,” the coach said. “Every week a different player stepped up to make plays.”
But aside from having experienced players, Salesian has a coaching staff with very little turnover and includes former players who understand the system.
“We’ve had a lot of continuity over years..I have a long time assistant whose been with me 18 of 19 years,” Nightingale said. “And every other assistant is a former player of ours. When you bring in kids to coach your system, they know what to expect and how to implement programs.”
Overall the coach calls 2014 a “tremendous year.”
Below, watch Salesian’s two scores in Friday’s bout against St. Helena: