SAN RAMON -- California High football coach Eric Billeci said he doesn't want any more of this "sharing stuff" after his team beat San Ramon Valley 35-21 Friday night in an East Bay Athletic League football showdown.
Billeci's Grizzlies had to share the EBAL title with the Wolves in 2012, but this win moved them into position to earn an outright championship.
California needs to beat Livermore next week to rule the EBAL roost. It is assured of at least a tie for first place again.
"It's an amazing feeling," said California running back Blake Bierwith, who carried 21 times for 104 yards. "Every week we have a new hard EBAL opponent, and we just come out and do our best and try to win."
Bierwith scored the Grizzlies' final three touchdowns, and quarterback Cameron Owen ran for 106 and threw for 138, as California improved to 7-1 overall and 5-0 in the EBAL. The Wolves, who got 156 yards rushing and two touchdowns from Marcus de la Pena, fall to 4-4, 3-1.
The Grizzlies' defense picked up the pace in the second half, limiting the Wolves to a single late touchdown after they'd scored on their first two possessions of the game. Senior left tackle Mario Diaz had a strong game, and defensive end Matt Snyder batted down at least one pass from Wolves quarterback Matt Winaker.
"We put a lot of pressure on our seniors, and they responded," Billeci said. "When we settled our nerves a little bit, we played better."
San Ramon Valley helped the Grizzlies' cause with some offside penalties. The Wolves jumped offside twice before Bierwith scored his team's final touchdown on a 2-yard run.
The strong running by Owen on the corners stunned the Wolves, keeping the defense off balance.
"It was a big game," Wolves coach Mark Kessler said. "Our kids felt good coming in, and as good as Cal High is, we made them a little bit better in a sense of the mistakes that we made. We hurt ourselves in a number of critical situations."
During an entertaining first half, California scored on all three of its possessions and took a 21-14 lead into the intermission. The Wolves marched 80 yards on the first drive of the game and led 7-0 on an 8-yard run by de la Pena and Winaker's extra point.
But the Grizzlies answered on a 8-yard touchdown pass from Owen to CJ Cornwell. Winaker, on a designed play, then put the Wolves back ahead on a 44-yard run as he weaved through the Grizzlies defense.