After winning one game during the regular season, the Righetti football team has been golden in the playoffs.
Despite 19 accepted penalties, 17 of them on the offense, against them Friday night, the Warriors kept forging ahead and eventually beat Bakersfield Ridgeview 27-6 at Righetti in the CIF Central Section Division 5 semifinals.
The Warriors (4-8) will host Madera Liberty next Friday night as they go after the first CIF sectional football championship in Righetti history. The Wolf Pack finished 3-9. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m.
Righetti lost at Tulare Union in the 2018 Division 2 title game.
The Righetti defense was simply outstanding in the 2021 semis, allowing a grand total of two first downs until a late Ridgeview score against the second line Righetti defense.
At the end of the third quarter, Righetti had two thirds as many accepted penalties, 14, as Ridgeview had yards of offense, 21.
“This was by far the best our defense has played,” said linebacker Brian Monighetti, who helped spark the Righetti unit Friday night.
“We knew a lot of what they were going to run. We keyed on certain players, certain plays, certain situations. Our front seven stuffed (every run), and our cornerbacks locked down the coverage on every pass play.”
Righetti coach Tony Payne said, “Brian Monighetti is the X factor for us on defense. This is the first game we’ve had him since the St. Joseph game.” That one was Righetti’s regular season finale, a loss. The Warriors have won three playoff games since.
During a hard regular season, “We never got down on each other,” said Monighetti. “The scoreboard didn’t show it, but we were getting better every game.”
The first Righetti drive Friday night went smoothly enough. The Warriors drove 53 yards and were actually helped by a penalty, a personal foul against Ridgeview. The Warriors incurred no penalties themselves on the possession, and Elias Martinez scored from 10 yards out.
The home team incurred no flags on its second drive, either. That one bogged down at the Ridgeview 6. Alex Magallon kicked a 23-yard field goal.
Then the yellow flags against the Warriors started flying steadily. Penalties ruined the next two Righetti drives, though Magallon kicked a 22-yard field goal to give Righetti a 13-0 halftime lead.
Most of the fouls called against Righetti were holding penalties.
“I’ve never seen anything like that,” said Payne. “I’m going to have to study that. I’m going to have to see what I can do to fix that.
“Sometimes when an offense looks so dominant, holding is the reason why. I’m going to have to look at the film and see if that was the case tonight.”
The Warriors picked up in the penalty department in the second half where they left off in the first. They were flagged on the second half kickoff.
Righetti overcame two penalties on a third quarter possession that ended with a 1-yard Abel McCormack score on a quarterback sneak. The Warriors were actually penalty free on a 63-yard drive that ended with a one-yard Ryan Boivin run on a direct snap to Boivin.
Jacob Nelson set up the drive for the Warriors when he intercepted a second-down pass. Yes, a penalty on the Nelson return put the Warriors back at their own 37.
“Our defense played great,” said Payne. “They have some really good athletes, they kept it pretty simple, but our guys were really prepared. They kept calling out plays in practice.”
The Wolf Pack scored on an eight-yard Parker Straw run at the 2:54 mark of the fourth quarter.
Boivin ran for 120 yards. “Our offensive line really blocked well,” he said. “We really came together.
“The (120 yards) isn’t a season high for me, but it’s a playoff high. I’ll take that.”