Joe Davidson

Hometown Report: Buzz returns to Placer football with preseason ritual

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2012 - 9:46 am

Everyone who walked by the Placer High School weight room Friday afternoon did a double take.

Forty-seven football players stood ankle-deep in their freshly sheared locks. Burly linemen and lanky receivers had the sun bouncing off their grayish domes, courtesy of a unique form of bonding from yesteryear.

Bald is back in Auburn. What a way to cap the first week of practice, and what better way to foster a brotherhood when all the players look so … similar.

Without jersey numbers, it's hard to tell them apart.

"We have some real pale heads out there," Placer coach Joey Montoya said with a laugh. "It was a great time."

Imagine the culture shock for Cody Guest, a junior transfer from Tennessee. His first day of football practice was Friday. Guest was introduced to a conditioning drill called "Stairway to Heaven" – the opposite of what it really is – and then had a senior teammate run a clipper across his dome. Welcome aboard, kid.

"Cody had this long, curly hair, too, but he had a great attitude and bought in," Montoya said.

In Placer's championship heyday of the 1970s and '80s, this was the thing to do on the eve of the season. In the chill of fall, steam would rise from those heads, making for quite a sight during the national anthem.

Coach Bill Miller embraced the ritual and the results – five Sac-Joaquin Section Division II titles from 1975 to 1981. The tradition continued until 1995.

Why restart the tradition? There's a championship feeling brewing in Auburn. The Hillmen haven't been this talented and prominent in 30 years, so why not look the part?

Placer has three senior recruits to lead the charge: USC commit Eddie Vanderdoes on the defensive line, Stone Sander at tight end and Pete Denham at quarterback.

"The kids brought up the shaving idea a few times," said Montoya, a grandson of Miller's. "We have some players whose dads played here years ago with shaved heads, and alumni have been waiting for this for a while.

"We had freshmen walk by Friday and say, "Hey, one day, I'll do that.' I know my grandfather was excited to hear about this. I hope it becomes an annual thing again."

Around the NFL camps

• Wide receiver Jeremy Ross of Laguna Creek and Cal caught a 33-yard touchdown pass for the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday against St. Louis in his quest to make the final roster. The Colts signed him to the practice roster last fall.

• Arizona Cardinals undrafted rookie safety Eddie Elder of Burbank delivered a crushing hit against New Orleans in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game.

• Minnesota Vikings undrafted defensive tackle Chase Baker of Rocklin received a taste of rookie hazing last week when he was taped to a goal post and doused with water and a bit of Pepto-Bismol. Assured All-Pro defensive end Jared Allen to coach Leslie Frazier, "Don't worry. We didn't beat him."

• Saints rookie defensive tackle Akiem Hicks of Del Campo has impressed in camp and in an exhibition game against New England. Saints interim coach Joe Vitt told New Orleans media, "I know what we have in the player – a big, athletic, passionate player who wants to get better every day. Guys like that, to a degree, are rare. I don't know that this player knows how good he can be."

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