San Ramon Valley’s massive first quarter leads to big win over Liberty

DANVILLE – Liberty’s game plan heading into Friday’s matchup against San Ramon Valley was simple on paper.

Maintain control of the ball, minimize turnovers and get first downs. In short, the Lions wanted to keep their offense on the field and, in turn, keep the Wolves’ dynamic offense, led by quarterback Luke Baker, off of it.

“I knew that [Baker] was going to come out, they were gonna do things, make players, they were gonna score points and it was gonna be an offensive shootout,” Liberty coach Mike Cable said.

But Friday ended up being a one-sided fight after a wild first quarter, dominated by San Ramon Valley’s opportunistic defense and lethal offense, leading to a 66-12 rout of Liberty.

Baker did exactly as Cable predicted, wasting no time getting the Wolves on the board. On the fourth play of the opening drive, he connected with receiver Owen Scott, who ran it in for a 41-yard touchdown.

Meanwhile, Liberty’s offense looked out of sorts from the start and never found its rhythm. A fumbled opening snap resulted in the loss of five yards. Then, quarterback Sage Robinson threw his first of what would be three interceptions of the first quarter alone.

The Lions’ next two drives would end with back-to-back interceptions that San Ramon Valley’s Dylan Deitsch and Jack Horton each returned for touchdowns.

With Marco Jones scoring two additional touchdowns — 18- and 66-yard scoring receptions — and Zach Dodson also finding the end zone, the Wolves managed to go up 42-6 at the end of the first quarter. They tacked on another two touchdowns in the second to give them a 50-point lead at the half.

The game was so lopsided that most of San Ramon Valley’s rowdy student section left after the homecoming court was announced at halftime.

“It was pretty rough,” Cable said. “We came out and shot ourselves in the foot four or five, six times that first quarter. Turning the ball over with such a short field and giving points like that up against a good team, you can’t do that. So right away, we almost didn’t even give ourselves a fair chance and couldn’t really cover after that.”

Baker threw for 363 yards and five touchdowns. He also found the end zone himself on a touchdown run at the end of the first half.

Friday’s win was the Wolves’ largest margin of victory since 2018, and they’ve outscored opponents 232-61 through five weeks of play.

With the way San Ramon Valley has been smoking teams this year – its closest margin of victory was 23 points in Week 2 – despite moving up to North Coast Section’s Division I, it’s fair to ask the question: Is this the best team San Ramon Valley has produced?

“I guess we’ll see,” Deitsch said. “We have a lot of time to prove it. I think so.”

Baker, whose older brothers suited up for the Wolves in previous years and are now on the coaching staff, said it just might be.

“We’re definitely in the conversation for one of the best teams,” said Baker, who sat most of the second half with the Wolves up by 44 midway through the third quarter.

Coach Aaron Becker has been at San Ramon Valley for 19 years and at the helm of its football team for 10. This year’s team, he said, is special.

“It’s one of the best ones I’ve coached,” Becker said.

San Ramon Valley will be off next week before returning to action Oct. 6 to play Clayton Valley Charter on the road. The true test of just how good this Wolves team is may not come until the week after, when they return to Danville and host East Bay powerhouse De La Salle.

Liberty plays Freedom on the road in Oakley next Friday.

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