Resilience has been a theme for two teams that face off tonight with Delta River League championship hopes, not to mention Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoff positioning.
Seventh-ranked Oak Ridge plays No. 8 Pleasant Grove at Sheldon, with each coach wondering if the opponent has a weakness.
Pleasant Grove has won four consecutive games. It lost to Lincoln of Stockton, then ranked third in the section, 34-27 in Week 1 and responded with a 29-28 come-from-behind effort over then-No. 2 Nevada Union.
Then there was the 42-28 loss at ranked Inderkum, a game in which the Tigers led 34-6 at halftime.
Oak Ridge (7-1) has won two straight since losing to No. 2 Folsom 49-21. Sometimes, Trojans coach Eric Cavaliere said, a punch in the face mask does a program good.
"Our team has responded exactly as expected after the Folsom loss," Cavaliere said. "I'm quite pleased with their attitude. No finger pointing or feeling sorry for themselves, just anxious to get back on the field."
The same theme is playing out at Pleasant Grove.
The Eagles (6-2) seek to win or share their fifth league title since 2007 and fourth trip to the section D-I title in the same span.
From injuries to losses, Pleasant Grove has no quit in it.
"We have a great group with a lot of resolve," Pleasant Grove coach Joe Cattolico said. "Things have come less easily than they did the past few years, and it says a lot about this group to persevere and battle."
Pleasant Grove has admirably filled a lot of vacancies in the lineup, from nationally recruited lineman Arik Armstead (now at Oregon) to quarterback Cody Demps (now playing basketball at Sacramento State).
No one lineman could replace Armstead, an All-American, but by committee, the Eagles are formidable in the trenches again. New quarterback Dre Terrell has flourished. The junior has 14 touchdown passes and just one interception. He can run and make plays in the secondary and on special teams as one of the section's most dynamic talents.
Terrell has a standout wide receiver in Wyatt Demps, the kid brother of Cody, and a 1,000-yard rusher in Isaiah Saunders, the kid brother of Jalen Saunders, a wide receiver at Oklahoma.
Oak Ridge is led by senior quarterback Jason Samuels, veteran lines and a tough defense that includes standout defensive end Zack Claiborne and unsung linebacker Nick Gordon, "who continues to lead our team week in and week out," Cavaliere said.
Cole Miner? The status of Nevada Union senior Cole Hannum could be decided today.
The linebacker-fullback transferred from Marysville over the summer. He was deemed ineligible by the Sac-Joaquin Section, which ruled that Hannum had prior contact with the Nevada Union coaching staff through a team camp and followed a coach to the program from Marysville.
NU has appealed the decision. Athletic director Steve Pilcher said a CIF committee had 15 days to respond to the appeal, the last day being today.
Blue crew Dan Carmazzi said he's delighted to be back at Christian Brothers for the first time since the 1970s, when he got his start at his alma mater as an assistant coach. After a 31-year run as Jesuit's head football coach, Carmazzi is back at CBS as an assistant to George Petrissans. Carmazzi is a popular figure on campus. Students are known to chant his name during volleyball games.
"Everyone here has been very welcoming," Carmazzi said. "George is a great guy who has been very supportive in putting up with me. People even say I look good in blue."
CBS is 4-4 after losses to ranked Rio Linda (33-27) and Del Campo (41-38) and likely must beat Bella Vista and Casa Roble in the coming weeks to secure a playoff berth. CBS was 1-9 last season.