The low point of the 2011 high school football season in Sacramento was the brawl between decades-long rivals Kennedy and McClatchy.
With McClatchy leading 14-0 in the fourth quarter of a Metro Conference game in Greenhaven in front of a large crowd, a Lion was gang-tackled. One overzealous Kennedy defender continued to drive the player into the ground after the whistle. Then mayhem. Players had to be pulled off each other. The game did not continue.
Footage of the game went viral. The schools best known for their sterling academic reputations made national news for the wrong reasons. The Sacramento City Unified School District handed down player suspensions and game forfeitures to both programs.
Tonight at 7:15, the teams face off again, this time at Hughes Stadium, McClatchy's home field.
In an effort to foster sportsmanship and goodwill, coaches and captains from both squads have met three times since the fight, including Thursday for lunch.
Kennedy went 0-10 last season and is 0-4 this fall under first-year coach Matt Costa, who has vowed that his team will not reduce itself by fighting. Malcolm Floyd is back this season as the coach at McClatchy (1-3), his alma mater.
"I have two views etched in my memory from the game last year," Floyd said. "First is the swinging of helmets during the chaos on the field as (assistant coach) Tony Whitehead and I run to separate the teams.
"Second is the demeanor of our team on film. I can see order on our sideline with coaches keeping the players calm. It wasn't a good night. Coach Costa and I know each other, and (all is good). This will be a good game, an excellent game if we can all go home healthy and happy."
Dragons uprising Sacramento hasn't fielded a team this prolific or talented since its 9-1 team of 1992 under then-coach Tom Rutten.
This year's Dragons (3-1) under seventh-year coach Paul Doherty offer speed and experience, including quarterback Josiah Johnson and three-year starting linemen Ian Howerton and Demetrius Watts. Doherty said sophomore linebacker Lonny Powell "could wind up in the NFL. Amazing talent."
Sacramento opens Metro Conference play tonight at No. 3 Burbank (4-0).
More speed Del Oro, the defending Sac-Joaquin Section Division III champion, continues its brutal early schedule against NorCal No. 3 Logan of Union City, which invades Loomis for an intersectional contest. The Colts (5-0) are fast on offense and unyielding on defense, with their starters allowing two touchdowns all season.
Injuries have left Del Oro (0-4) to rely on fourth-string tailback Dylan Kainrath, who ran for 161 yards and three touchdowns on 36 carries in a 31-30 loss at Grant on Friday. Del Oro also lost to Oaks Christian (40-0), Westlake (16-13) and Burbank (28-23).
"We're still grinding," Golden Eagles coach Casey Taylor said.