Berkeley High would be wise to offer some words of encouragement to El Cerrito after its 53-6 thrashing of the visiting Gauchos on Friday night.
After all, the Yellowjackets' hopes of earning at least a share of a fourth straight Alameda Contra Costa Athletic League football title likely rely on El Cerrito bouncing back next Friday against first-place Pinole Valley.
Berkeley (6-3, 4-1 ACCAL) closes its season next week against Hercules and remains a half game back of Pinole Valley (7-0-1, 4-0). The Spartans have two games left, but next week's showdown with El Cerrito (4-4, 3-1) seems the most logical chance the Yellowjackets have to regain a share of first place. The Gauchos could also get back into a share of first place by beating Pinole Valley.
"I grew up with a lot of (the El Cerrito players)," Berkeley running back Rudolpho James said. "I'll talk to them. Give them a pep talk to help them bounce back and get that win for us."
The Yellowjackets scored two touchdowns in the first 36 seconds and led 29-0 after a quarter.
James went 71 yards for a score on Berkeley's first play from scrimmage. El Cerrito fumbled the ensuing kickoff and a play later, Logan Murdock hit Jamel Whetstone for a 22-yard touchdown pass with 36 seconds gone.
"We knew we had to come out powerful," said James, who had 227 yards on 10 carries.
James added a 9-yard touchdown run, and Robert Johnson returned a fumble on the ensuing kickoff 2 yards for the 29-0 lead.
Sam Boyden hit a 40-yard field goal, Michael Ned had a 15-yard scoring run, and Rashad Albert -- playing quarterback out of a wildcat formation -- hit Whetstone for a 19-yard pass that helped make it 46-6 at halftime.
Berkeley wrapped up the scoring on its first drive of the second half when Murdock hit Sir Devonta Stewart on a 9-yard scoring pass.