Mission running backJelani Al-Malik (4) is tackled by Galileo defenders Reese Bickart (8) and Jimmie Edwards III (6) on Oct. 5, 2018, in an Academic Athletic Association league game at Galileo High School. (Ryan Gorcey / S.F. Examiner)

SF Preps: San Francisco Section postpones semifinal football games to Saturday due to air quality

The San Francisco Section has officially postponed its two semifinal football games yet again.

After having already moved the games between Galileo and Mission, and Lincoln and Balboa to Friday, commissioner Don Collins has postponed both games to 2 p.m. on Saturday.

The San Francisco Section, which encompasses the teams of the Academic Athletic Association, has a standing rule that no outdoor competition will occur so long as the air quality index is over 125. Because of the smoke and ash from the Camp fire in Butte County, the air quality has steadily worsened over the last 10 days. As of 7 a.m. Friday, the air quality index in San Francisco was 221 — very unhealthy — and not projected to fall under 190.

Saturday’s forecast, according to AirNow.gov, is for an air quality index between 101 and 150, unhealthy for sensitive groups. All colleges in the area — including Cal, Stanford, San Francisco State, City College, the University of San Francisco and San Jose State — have cancelled classes through Friday.

Below are our preview capsules for each game, should they be played. The section/league title game is slated for Thanksgiving.

Quarterfinal 1: #3 Mission (5-4) @ #2 Galileo (7-2), Saturday at 2 p.m.: The Bears dropped their first game of the season due to a forfeit — not enough players had their proper medical check-ups — and then took a 20-6 beating at the hands of Oakland Tech, but have won five of their last seven games. Mission’s only two losses in that stretch? To the top two teams in the league: Galileo and Lincoln.

The last time these two teams met was an entertaining back-and-forth affair at Galileo, where the Lions came out with a 42-36 win

First-year head coach Tobias Whitley has a pair of dynamic playmakers in Jelani Al-Malik and dual-threat quarterback McKinley Oliver. Oliver hasn’t been incredibly consistent, but he can be explosive, especially in the run game. Defensive lineman Ben Bennett is a big bully up front on the defensive line, and will have to be accounted for by an offensive line that now has center Rafael Oropeza back.

Along with Oropeza, the Lions have gotten an extra week to lick their wounds.A Washington forfeit followed by a bye and the cancellations of last week have given Galileo plenty of time to recuperate injuries to their top playmakers. Running back Yarvell Smith — who went down with a thumb injury against Lincoln on Oct. 20— and quarterback Ronald Fox — who went down with an ankle injury in that same game — have both been able to rest for nearly three weeks.

Fox has passed for 672 yards and 11 touchdowns this season — with two picks — while rushing for 477 yards on 55 carries and ripping off 273 kickoff return yards, 48 punt return yards and 111 interception return yards. Smith is averaging 14.6 yards per carry, rushing for 919 yards on 63 carries with 10 touchdowns. Watch out for dynamic Jimmie Edwards III, who has 573 rushing yards on 57 carries and 11 touchdowns, and six catches for 154 yards, not to mention 44 interception return yards and 121 kickoff return yards.

Quarterfinal 2: #4 Balboa (5-3) @ #1 Lincoln (9-0), Saturday at 2 p.m.: Quarterback Jovon Baker, running back Desean Crawford and fullback/linebacker Jack Gaughan have been the engine that’s made the Mustangs go this season, on both sides of the ball.

Lincoln was able to hold AAA rushing leader Yarvell Smith to a paltry 18 yards when they met, and though Balboa has been one of the better teams in the league, they were roundly trounced by the Mustangs, 29-0, on Nov. 3, the final regular season game before Lowell forfeited the would-be season finale on Nov. 9.

Crawford leads the run-first attack for Lincoln, with 1,317 yards on 176 carries, pacing the team with 20 touchdowns on the ground. Baker rarely throws — rushing for 865 yards on 91 carries — but is accurate when he does, completing 39 of 74 passes for 414 yards, with 6-foot-4 Ajani Adewusi his favorite target, catching 17 passes for 251 yards. 

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