EL CERRITO -- They're fast, physical, and they stick to receivers like a four-quarter flu.
The El Cerrito High football team boasts a dynamic trio in the secondary of Utah-bound Marcellus Pippins, Jalen Harvey and Adarius Pickett.
They intend to make life tough on touted Marin Catholic-Kentfield quarterback Jared Goff on Saturday in the North Coast Section Division III championship game at Pinole Valley High. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
The top-seeded Gauchos (13-0) will vie for the school's first section football title against the No. 2 Wildcats (12-1), led by the Cal-bound Goff.
Pippins doesn't seem overly concerned about having to face a prolific passing attack.
"We just got to play like we've been playing all season, fast, physical, and just compete," Pippins said, "and we should come out with a win in the end."
The Gauchos are the talk of the town in advance of the big game.
"There's definitely a lot of excitement," El Cerrito coach Kenny Kahn said. "These boys have an opportunity to do something that's never been done before at the school. They've worked so hard to get here, and I'm incredibly proud of these young men."
Kahn, who played on the 1998 Gauchos team that lost to Ken Dorsey-led Miramonte in the NCS final, expects another major aerial test from Goff, who passed for over 500 yards combined in his past two games.
Kahn agreed that the championship game is as it should be -- with the top two seeds and a great passing attack against a dream secondary. It's the ultimate final exam.
Pippins, a senior, explains how the Gauchos cause opposing quarterbacks fits.
"Adarius, he's a shut-down corner like me, so the quarterback has to pick his poison about who he wants to throw to," Pippins said. "Jalen, he's the strong safety, so he comes flying in to make the hit, and he can jump, too. So if they throw a jump ball, he can go up and get it. That's our dynamic trio."
Kahn says El Cerrito's secondary compares favorably to the Encinal unit of 2008, when the Jets had Tyrone Duckett and Xavier Milton and won the Division III title.
With a small roster, the Jets stars all played offense, defense and special teams, as do Pippins, Harvey and Pickett, a rarity in that all three were first-team Tri County Athletic League-Rock Division selections at defensive back.
Harvey and Pickett, both juniors, are Division I recruits. Pickett has offers from Utah and UCLA, and Harvey is getting looks from the likes of Notre Dame and Nebraska, Pippins said.
The confident Pippins said he's heard Goff "can throw a little bit, but that's the thing with our secondary: When a team will throw, that's more motivation for us to get more picks and bring 'em back to the house."
Kahn said the tests for his secondary have gotten tougher in the postseason. The team passed a big one in a 40-20 win over Analy-Sebastapol in the semifinals.
Plus, the Gauchos' all-star trio comes from good athletic stock. Picketts' dad, Antoine, was a baseball sensation at El Cerrito in the early 1980s, when the team went 29-1.
Pippins' dad C-M excelled at basketball. Harvey's dad, Jason, played at Kennedy-Richmond and at Arizona State and UNLV, and his uncle Jonathan Harvey had a good football career at Northwestern.
"They've very talented kids, all three of them," Kahn said. "Their backgrounds say a whole lot, but more importantly, what they're doing right now is saying a whole lot."