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GSF All-Star Football Coach of the Month | Greg Calcagno – St. Francis Lancers

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Posted November 14, 2018 by in

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GSF All-Star Football Coach of the Month | Greg Calcagno – St. Francis Lancers

by: Pranav Iyer

Since 2014, the Saint Francis Lancers have won a CCS championship and appeared in two CIF state championship games, winning one last year for the first time in its program’s storied franchise. Now, they are in the midst of yet another historic season, as they are sitting at 9-1 and head into the CCS Open Division II playoffs as the number one seed. To go along with that, they are also the outright WCAL champions for the first time since 2003. This has all been done under the program lead of October’s GSF All-Star Football Coach of the Month Greg Calcagno.

To Calcagno, Saint Francis football is nothing new to him. In fact, it has been a staple in his family for generations. Greg’s father Ron was the Lancers coach for 24 years, spanning from 1972 to 1996, amassing one of the best coaching resumes in California football history. With 233 wins and 11 CCS championships, Ron solidified Saint Francis as a football dynasty. During his time at the helm, Greg was a member of the first undefeated season in its school’s history. Greg’s four sons played in the program, although he was only able to coach his youngest, Patrick. Two of his sons are currently integral parts of the program, Robert who coaches the freshmen team and David who manages video production. His wife was also a Lancer Alum and his brother-in-law Matt Scharenberg is the varsity defensive coordinator. Now, with Greg on the throne, he is in the midst of creating a dynasty of his own less than six years into his head coaching tenure.

As per usual, the Lancers began the season with a grueling three game preseason schedule. To open the season, they defeated Southern California powerhouse Notre Dame by double digits, handily beat Oak Grove and put up a tough fight in a loss to nationally ranked De La Salle. They opened WCAL play with convincing league victories against Saint Ignatius and Sacred Heart Cathedral that were highlighted by stellar defensive play and then marched into a heavily anticipated Oct. 5 matchup against Valley Christian, who came into the game also at 4-1.

The game represented the epitome of old school football: two run-dominant teams who had outstanding defenses. After scoreless first half, the Lancers were able to score the game’s only touchdown in the third quarter and gritted out a 7-3 victory. Despite amassing just 59 yards of total offense, the Lancers were able to rely on their dominant interior defense to seal the win.

“Our defense and their defense in league play gave up less than 30 points in seven games,” Greg said. “So, we had some pretty good defenses on display in that game. We knew that it would not take a whole lot of point to win, so we wanted to not take a lot of chances and be pretty conservative offensively.”

From there, Saint Francis lanced their way to two more league victories, setting up their season finale against the Serra Padres to be the battle for a league championship. In the Padres five league wins, they were averaging over 45 points and had an average margin of victory of nearly 42 points. But to the surprise of many, the Lancers limited to Padres to just seven points in a 42-7 route. Saint Francis quarterback Ryan Daly had an electrifying performance, throwing for 215 yards and four touchdowns on just 13 attempts. His counterpart and Serra’s all-time leading passer Luke Bottari was limited to just 57 yards passing.
“Taking it down to the last week of the season against a team that has beaten us four times in a row [was great],” Greg said. “At their place, we had some things stacked against us, but we got some early turnovers and a penalty or two that really helped us and we took advantage of it.”

The clear instigator for the Lancer’s success this season has come from their complete dominance on the defensive side of the ball. Greg said that he has always aimed to prioritize defensive success first, followed by special teams and finally offense. They returned many defensive starters from last year’s state championship team, including Stanford commit Josh Pakola and Colorado commit Maurice Wilmer. They have allowed less than a touchdown a game while playing likely the toughest schedule in all of CCS.

But what may be even more impressive is the ability for Greg and the rest of the coaching staff to maintain a very potent offense in the absence of key players. At quarterback, the Lancers were faced with filling the void left by the graduation of two-year starter Reed Vettel entering the season. Senior captain Jack Perry took over that role but had his season abruptly end in the fourth game due to a knee injury. Junior Ryan Daly, a transfer from Sacred Heart Cathedral, has started the final six regular season games for the Lancers and has been very efficient, throwing 8 touchdowns to just one interception.

The biggest question mark entering the season was the rushing game following the unexpected departure of senior Darrel Page who broke the single season rushing record last season after piling up 2295 yards and 23 touchdowns as the WCAL Most Valuable Running Back. In Page’s absence, Greg has distributed the rushing responsibilities amongst a variety of capable backs who have proved their abilities as the season progressed. As a collective, they have totalled near 150 rushing yards per game and 22 rushing touchdowns.

“I think every [Saint Francis] team is unique but this team has been extremely resilient,” Greg said. “We’ve had more than our fair share of injuries and we’ve had other guys that have had to step up. It’s been fun to watch other guys just step up and take over and not miss a beat. And that’s really what we need, especially as these seasons get so long.”

The Lancers will face the 2-8 Aragon Dons in the opening round of the CCS Division II playoffs. While they are the clear favorite to win the section championship and advance further in the playoffs, Greg’s mindset is to not look ahead, but instead stay focused focused on the game at hand.

“Seven game win streak, 9-1, none of it matters,” Greg said. “We’re 0-0 in the playoffs just like Aragon and everybody else that is in there. So you throw the records out and we just got to do what we do.


About the Author

Alforde Joaquin

ALF’s passion for shooting and editing has earned him several awards including an Edward R. Murrow Award in 2006 for Videography. He was also a nominee for the National Edward R. Murrow Award for Videography. A 6-time Emmy recipient for five different categories: Director/Producer, Videography, Editing, Feature Segment and Sound Mixing, Alf has produced over 1,000 video segments and is committed to developing GetSportsFocus as one of the best sports video magazine on the web.

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