Coach Troy Mott wanted to see a lot of balance out of Napa High School’s offense in Big Game XLV on Friday night. He wanted to see the Indians run the ball. He also wanted to open up the offense and throw the ball.
Both worked just fine for Napa, which won its third straight Monticello Empire League title by pummeling cross-town rival Vintage, 35-0, before a capacity crowd of 6,700 at Memorial Stadium.
Austin Spinelli had a hand in each of Napa’s five touchdowns. The Indians’ quarterback ran for three touchdowns and threw two scoring passes to Sean Madigan.
Spinelli had 44 yards rushing and completed 8 of 11 passes for 162 yards to power Napa (7-3 overall, 5-0 MEL) to its 11th straight win over Vintage. With 14 wins in the last 15 years, Napa leads the all-time in-town rivalry series, 28-15-2.
The Indians are seeded No. 8 in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs and will host No. 9 Sheldon-Sacramento in the first round at 7 p.m. Friday.
“I felt like we needed to have balance in the run and pass game,” said Mott, who is also Napa’s offensive coordinator. “Our pass game continues to get better and better and better. The great thing about our pass game is multiple guys are stepping up and catching the football for us. I think that makes us more difficult to defend and it certainly will help out our run game, if we have the threat of being able to throw the football.”
Mott isn’t about to get too carried away, as he likes to run the ball. But he is confident in Napa’s pass offense, the plays that his team is running, and the protections that are being provided by the linemen and backs. He also has confidence that the receivers are going to make the plays and that Spinelli is going to put the ball where it needs to be and to the right player.
“We suit up about 36 kids every single Friday night,” said Mott. “I’m just proud of them, for being able to fight through any adversity we’ve had this year.”
Napa was just 2-3 following its five-game nonleague season and was coming off a 30-14 loss to Pleasant Valley-Chico heading into its bye week. It may have been in that two-week period where the Indians arrived at a turning point, because for the last five weeks they have been one of the top teams in Northern California.
The five pre-league games prepared the Indians well, said Mott, “only because they were able to continue to trust the process and trust our program.”
“It’s just really gratifying for these kids,” he said.
Napa was flat-out dominating in all three phases of the game against Vintage.
The Indians – who are ranked No. 13 in the CalHiSports.com Sac-Joaquin Section Top 25, No. 20 in the Prep2Prep.com SJS Top 25, and No. 23 in the MaxPreps.com Sac-Joaquin Section Rankings – scored on three of their four possessions and took time off the clock with a ball control offense in the first half.
They were ahead at the half 21-0, and then scored two more touchdowns in the third quarter, forcing a running clock in the fourth quarter.
The defense forced two turnovers and three punts. The special team’s unit recovered an onside kick.
“It was a whole team effort tonight,” said Spinelli. “It’s all about the team. It’s a team effort. The defense stood out.
“Everyone just loves each other right now. We’re playing as a unit and that’s always the key to success.”
Napa Valley Register Most Valuable Player awards were presented to Spinelli and Vintage’s AJ Denna, who plays right tackle and outside linebacker.
“He’s just a solid kid,” Vintage coach Dylan Leach said of Denna. “He blocks well every play. He’s got effort. He always does his assignment. I’m really excited about him and the effort that he gives.”
Madigan shined for Napa, catching six passes for 136 yards. He also had 10 yards rushing on three carries.
Hunter LaRue ran for 44 yards.
“Even when we were in position, they would move us four yards,” said Leach. “Watching film on (Napa), they’re disciplined, they play hard. I literally saw teams not gain first downs on them, and that’s exactly what they did to us tonight. They impose their will.
“Our defense, they played their butts off, but they’re on the field the whole night. You can’t have that.”
The defense for Napa is one of the best around. Hunter Scriven recovered a fumble on just the second play from scrimmage for Vintage. Jake Van Zandt registered a sack. Alex Perez DeLeon intercepted a pass on Vintage’s first possession of the second half.
“They’ve got a great defense – one of the best I’ve seen,” said Leach. “They play tremendously fast. For not being an overly fast team, their reads and their fundamentals make them fast.”
Spinelli scored on runs of 1, 2 and 1 yard, respectively. He threw touchdown passes of 35 and 66 yards to Madigan, who runs very, very well after making the catch.
The longest play Napa allowed was a 36-yard run by Triston Schaumkel. But Vintage had just nine yards of offense in the first quarter and only 74 yards rushing for the game and just 28 yards passing.
It was a dominating effort by Napa.
“We’re preparing well,” said Kirk Anderson, the Indians’ defensive coordinator. “We’re just keeping it simple – that’s the bottom line. We’ve got a lot of guys who are getting a lot of game reps, which is good.
“It was a great week of preparation. Pretty simple game plan and that allowed the kids to play fast. We were in our odd front and we came into the game with the urgency to stop the run. From there, we didn’t have to make too many adjustments, because we were able to kind of dictate what they were doing.
“I think we understood that they were going to try and run the ball consistently. We prepared for that and the kids were able to play downhill and fast.”
The shutout was Napa’s third of the season and their second of the league season.
Napa retains possession of the KVON Victory Bell and the Kiwanis Club of Napa’s perpetual trophy.
The Kiwanis Club also awards the winning team $1,000 and the losing team $500.
Vintage (5-5 overall, 3-2 MEL) turned the ball over on downs at the Napa 38-yard line in the second quarter.
“We just keep plugging away,” said Leach. “It really comes down to strength and conditioning.”
Community Recognition Award
Napa and Vintage honored Frank Humpert and his family with the Big Game’s Community Recognition Award prior to the game.
Humpert, a member of the Napa High Athletic Hall of Fame and Napa Valley College Athletic Hall of Fame, passed away on July 8 in Sacramento after a brief illness.
Humpert had a long history with Napa High and its athletic and academic history. He was a starting linebacker for the University of California, coached by Pappy Waldorf, and played in the Rose Bowl game on Jan. 2, 1950.
Humpert had a 37-year career in the Napa Valley Unified School District. He was also a major general reservist in the U.S. Air Force.
Vintage JV 14, Napa 6
Drew Hatfield and Viliami Schaumkel each scored a touchdown to lead Vintage past Napa.
Vintage was ahead 7-0 in the first quarter and increased its advantage to a two-touchdown lead with 2:24 to go in the first half.
“Beating them tonight is a great step for the program,” said Crushers coach Kyle Schuh. “Hopefully, we keep moving forward. We feel good about it. I feel great for the guys. They played hard. We were fortunate enough to win. The defense played well.”
Max Phipps of Vintage suffered an injury to his leg late in the game.
Napa scored with 6:53 to play as Kalani Posey caught a TD pass from Johnny Torres.
“I’m real proud of how they finished the season,” said coach Jesus Martinez. “They bonded and they trusted each other.”