With just one winning season in the last 15 years, Northgate High is not exactly known for its football program.
After the Broncos' 28-20 win against Concord last week, however, people are beginning to take notice.
Northgate turned some heads in its Diablo Valley Athletic League opener and held Washington State-bound Olito Thompson to just 62 rushing yards, a career low for him as the Minutemen's starting tailback.
It's a result that fifth-year Northgate coach Justin Lowell thinks might put the Broncos on the map after years of steady improvement.
"Everyone knows their reputation and how good they are," Lowell said of Concord. "They're the measuring stick in our division. A win over Concord builds our confidence."
Concord had played in the last two North Coast Section Division II title games and were slotted as the No. 2 Division II team in Northern California in Cal-Hi Sports' bowl game rankings before the loss.
So, for a Northgate program that's earned just one playoff win since 1994 and had been outscored 212-44 against Concord over the past four years, it's a big deal.
At 5-1 overall, the season's been a good one beyond the Concord win.
Despite injuries, the offensive line has come together and sparked a highly productive running game. The Broncos are averaging 322 rushing yards behind Fisi Tavake, Eric Haynes and Jimmy Sharpe. All three play defense as well.
"Each week it seems one of them steps up and has a big game, (against Concord) it was Jimmy Sharpe," Lowell said. "Each one has had their big games and breakout moments."
Northgate also gets all kinds of contributions from Joe Pelletier, who Lowell calls "an old school player." The senior is the starting quarterback and plays on the defensive line. He also handles kickoffs, punts and sometimes kicks PATs.
RUDOLPH SIDELINED: Ondre Rudolph, Dublin's bruising tailback, is likely out for the remainder of the regular season after suffering a hairline fracture in his left ankle during the Gaels' 31-14 loss to Las Lomas last Friday.
Rudolph had rushed for 1,310 yards and 15 touchdowns in six games this season before getting injured in the first quarter against the Knights. Dublin coach John Wade said it's an injury that typically takes three to five weeks to heal, so Rudolph could be back for the NCS playoffs should the Gaels (4-3) make it that far.
"It's not all bad," Wade said. "If you're going to fracture your ankle it's about as good of news as you can get."
With Rudolph out, Wade said sophomore Darrell Millinder will receive the bulk of the carries out of the backfield.
OPENING ITS SEASON: Castlemont will field a varsity football team for the first time this season Friday as it opens the Oakland Athletic League season at Oakland Tech.
Knights coach Lloyd Johnson said his team will have 24 academically eligible players, an increase from 12 in mid-September.
"We have been practicing every day," Johnson said about the team's five-day-a-week practice schedule.
Castlemont was forced to cancel nonleague games against Healdsburg and Encinal in September because of a lack of eligible players. It also forfeited its game on Sept. 7 against Vista del Lago-Folsom because of player eligibility issues. The Knights enter Friday's game with an 0-3 overall record.
Staff writer Phil Jensen contributed to this notebook.