Chris Jones was in the front seat of a rowdy team bus late Friday night, not at all attempting to quiet his giddy group.
The Vista del Lago coach let the Eagles whoop it up after they beat Sierra Valley Conference favorite and previous Bee No. 11 Cosumnes Oaks 35-34 in a contest that came down to the final seconds. Vista, in its sixth varsity season, was celebrating its eighth consecutive victory and the program's first league championship.
"The guys are pretty excited," Jones said.
So is the old coach.
Vista made a quarterback change early in the season, going with sophomore Matt Jimison in what wasn't initially a popular decision. Jimison has "done a great job," Jones said, adding, "I'm really impressed with how he's grown this season."
Jimison has passed for 1,800 yards and 27 touchdowns with just five interceptions. On Friday, he drove the Eagles 56 yards on nine plays in the final moments, then hit Brad Rittenhouse for a three-yard touchdown with 29 seconds to go. Anderz Mintz made the extra point, and J.T. Winkler sealed the win with a last-play interception. Jimison passed for 355 yards and four touchdowns.
Vista hasn't played a monster schedule outside its opening 42-6 loss to Oak Ridge in a game the Trojans led 14-6 at halftime. The Division III Eagles beat small-school powers Highlands (38-7) and Bradshaw Christian (63-35) and gained a win over Castlemont when the Oakland school forfeited because of insufficient eligible players.
Castlemont forfeited its first three games and lost its past two by a combined 90-0.
The SVC is in a down cycle outside of Vista and Cosumnes Oaks, and Jones knows his squad will be tested in the playoffs. Vista earned its first playoff win last fall, beating Woodland 25-21, before falling to longtime D-III power Oakdale 49-7.
"We've talked (about) where we wanted to go, how we want to emulate the good programs in the area," Jones said. "We're still relatively new, but we're getting there."
All A's at Antelope No. 20 Antelope has an emerging quarterback in junior Tyler McCombs, who passed for 247 yards and five touchdowns in a 41-6 victory over Cordova on Friday.
The win kept the Titans on pace with No. 13 Whitney for the Capital Athletic League lead. Those teams meet in Week 10.
McCombs has two standout receivers in Tyler Winston and Steven Mercado and a fast running back in Jonathan Crippes.
But the best arm in the program?
"I've still got it," cracked coach Matt Ray, a record-setting quarterback at Quincy High School in the North Section and at UNLV. "McCombs has come a long way, playing really well. I enjoy working with him."
Sutter surge Sutter, a longtime small-school power in the North Section, has emerged as the top program in the north state at any level.
Competing in Division II with 600 students, the Huskies of the Butte View League beat North Section large-school heavyweight Enterprise of Redding 34-27 Friday in a nonleague game. The victory could greatly help their argument for a regional playoff bid should they win the rest of their games.
To put Sutter's effort in perspective, consider Enterprise beat Bee No. 9 Del Campo 45-21 to open the season.
Against Enterprise, Sutter (8-0) was led by wing-T running backs Mat Sanders (115 rushing yards and a touchdown) and Nathan Ahlers (102 yards, one touchdown) and quarterback Trent Little (one touchdown pass, one rushing).
Sutter had five interceptions, two by Colton Minton and one returned for a touchdown by Andy Brower.
Most impressive for coach Ryan Reynolds' team is he platoons. No one starts both ways.
Et cetera Trace Noble caught three of Jake Browning's five touchdown passes in Folsom's 49-13 victory over Sheldon on Friday. Noble is the son of Folsom assistant coach Jim Noble, who's the first to admit his son didn't get his fast feet and good hands from him.
Nationally recruited wide receiver Alex Van Dyke, a junior at Cosumnes Oaks, had six catches for 205 yards and three touchdowns, including an 80-yarder from Alex Kropp, against Vista.
No. 6 Placer slugged past Bear River 14-7 in Week 7 and squeezed past Lincoln 10-7 Friday on a last-second, 17-yard field goal by Dominic Granieri.