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Luke Baker shines in San Ramon Valley’s dominant win in season opener

Luke Baker shines in San Ramon Valley’s dominant win in season opener

SAN FRANCISCO – San Ramon Valley picked up this season where it left off in last year’s 2-A title game.

Never mind the fact the Wolves moved up to North Coast Section’s Division I and are facing a tougher slate of opponents.

San Ramon Valley, led by senior quarterback Luke Baker, came out firing on all cylinders, resulting in a 42-14 rout of St. Ignatius at the West Catholic school’s San Francisco home.

“It felt great,” said Baker, who couldn’t stop smiling after the win. “Guys weren’t over confident going into this game… It feels peaceful being back out here on the football field. I just feel like it’s where I belong. It felt great getting a big first win.”

The Wolves returned a large chunk of last year’s team, with that already established chemistry on full display against the Wildcats, who are being guided this season by first-year head coach Lenny Vandermade.

“When you play against a guy like [Baker], we got to be on our stuff and can’t make little mistakes because he’s the type of guy that makes you pay,” Vandermade said.

But St. Ignatius hasn’t created a defensive identity yet, and Baker took full advantage.

Baker completed 19 of his 25 passes for 307 yards — 173 yards more than the two quarterbacks St. Ignatius used combined.

“He’s the best,” SRV coach Aaron Becker said. “He’s almost like I’m out there on the field, and if I signal him a play, he knows exactly why and he’s able to just get to his route so fast and attack a defense, it’s pretty great.”

Baker scored the first touchdown of the game with a one-yard carry. St. Ignatius responded later in the first quarter when senior Pierce St. Geme broke several tackles on his way to a 34-yard touchdown to even the score at seven.

But then it was all Wolves, who scored 21 unanswered points to close out the first half. They also got a crucial stop at the end of the first half when Mitch Bruno sacked Wildcats quarterback Soren Hummel for a loss of nine yards. St. Ignatius ultimately ended the quarter with a turnover on downs after it failed to convert a fourth-and-19.

The Wolves pounced on the Wildcats at the start of the third, with Baker finding Owen Scott for a 65-yard touchdown reception 14 seconds into the quarter to give the visitors a 35-7 edge. Scott finished with 133 yards on eight receptions, numbers that left Baker in a joking mood after.

“Owen Scott is a very talented receiver, but we don’t need to hype him up too much so the defense starts covering him more,” Baker said with a laugh.

St. Ignatius showed little signs of life in the second half until the very end when senior running back Daniel Jung ran the ball into the end zone for the five-yard carry. The touchdown gave the home crowd something to cheer about in what was an otherwise disappointing night.

“We need to be better collectively in all three phases,” said Vandermade, who came to St. Ignatius after coaching for 10 years at USC, with stops at Southern California high school powerhouses in between stints with the Trojans. “This was definitely a team loss, not one phase cost us the game. So with that, we got to go back and be better, watch the film and just improve.”

Baker believes this is just the beginning in what should be a special season for San Ramon Valley.

“We came to this game expecting this so we’re not going to get too cocky, overconfident,” he said. “Definitely was a good first win, and we’re just gonna build on it.”