Mission hoping to stay perfect vs. city teams 

Frank Hall plays safety on defense and features as a wingback on offense for the Mission football team. But against Washington last weekend, it was on special teams that the junior wreaked the most havoc.

In a 54-14 win over the Eagles, Hall compiled five touchdowns -- all on special teams -- helping cement the Bears' perfect 6-0 record in Academic Athletic Association play. Hall's opportunistic attitude pervades throughout the entire special teams units.

"They've done a great job making plays," Mission coach Joe Albano said.

Today, Mission faces Balboa, which went 3-3 in AAA play, in one San Francisco section playoff semifinal, less than one month removed from defeating the Buccaneers 46-16.

"But any time you play a team twice, it'll be different," Albano said. "It's exciting. Every week, we told our guys to elevate their games, to get better. We knew this day would come."

Jerrell Stanci has been excellent at quarterback for the Bears, and he has a stable of playmakers to choose from -- Hall included. Balboa coach Alvaro Carvajal has two dual-threat options at quarterback in juniors Lee Lelea and Devin McFarland. Giovanni Norori, another junior, has been their favorite target at wide receiver this season.

Lincoln, which went 5-1 in AAA, faces Galileo, 3-3 in league play, in the other semifinal game, a rematch of last year's Turkey Bowl, which Galileo won in thrilling fashion 34-30. This season, the Mustangs took down the Lions 46-6 on Nov. 8.

Despite the rematch coming less than two weeks after that tough loss, Galileo is a vastly different team, thanks in large part to a surge from junior quarterback Phillip Tran (four touchdowns against Burton last week), who struggled in the first part of the season.

"He had some pretty big shoes to fill," Galileo coach Mark Huynh said in reference to the record-setting former Lions quarterback Kyle Nelson, who graduated last spring. "The confidence Phillip has gained is more a byproduct of his work at practice and the support he's gotten from his teammates."

Tran relies heavily upon Galileo playmaker Rodney Morgan, whom Huynh calls a special player.

"His size and his speed create a lot of problems for opposing defenses," Huynh said.

Huynh knows stopping Lincoln senior tailback Jacquez Williams-Chish will be paramount. Williams-Chish has emerged as perhaps The City's top playmaker, averaging 205 all-purpose yards per game and recording 22 touchdowns -- including 16 rushing.

"He's got natural instincts," Lincoln coach Phil Ferrigno said. "Every time he touches the ball, it's 'See what happens.'"

On defense for the Mustangs, senior Lejon Price-Jefferson has compiled 60 tackles, including 10 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks.

"We have a simple mantra: Play for the team," Ferrigno said. "It's going to be hard-fought. All bets are off."

"It's going to rain, too," Huynh said, "so everything we coaches know is out the window. It'll be tough and turnovers will be there."

Huynh feels his team is peaking at the right time, a sentiment Ferrigno has said extends to all four teams in the playoff. "It's rewarding to see the growth within our program," said Huynh. "Hopefully, we'll be a better challenge for Lincoln this time around."

San Francisco Section playoffs

Today’s semifinals

Mission vs. Balboa at Lowell, 2 p.m.

Galileo at Lincoln, 2 p.m.

Turkey Bowl

Semifinal winners, Thanksgiving Day

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Matthew Snyder

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