With a year-round commitment to weight training and conditioning, high school linemen continue to beef up.
There's no better example than at No. 8 Del Campo.
The Cougars have a number of impact linemen who weigh 250 pounds or more.
Among them are three-year two-way starter A.J. Samataua (6-foot-3, 315 pounds), Dre Martinez (6-1, 265), JJ Tufu (6-2, 250) and Kyle Evanski (6-2, 250).
But senior nose guard Devar Card a favorite of coach Mike Dimino has gone in a different direction since his days as a 5-6, 300-plus-pound, low-endurance freshman.
Card, nicknamed "Quake" by his teammates, has continued to slim down he's now 275 pounds while getting taller (he's 5-10), stronger and more mobile.
The maturation of Card and his linemates is a big reason Del Campo (7-2, 4-0) is playing at No. 19 Rio Linda (8-1, 4-0) tonight for the Capital Valley Conference championship and will join favored Folsom and Elk Grove in next week's Division II playoff field as an intriguing team.
The Cougars rebounded from a 1-2 start, including a heartbreaking 20-16 loss to Elk Grove on a late disputed call, to win their past six games.
With so many big, strong and quick linemen, the Cougars have simply beaten up teams running the ball with senior Josh Blumgold and junior Austin Brown. They can pass block, too, which makes quarterback Derek Rodigo a potential difference-maker in the postseason.
A win tonight would give Dimino his sixth league championship in his 10-year tenure at the Fair Oaks school. He also has led Del Campo to two D-III Sac-Joaquin Section championships.
Dragon looks to play Although Sac High quarterback Josiah Johnson usually plays just a half because of the Dragons' beatdowns of most Metro Conference foes, he continues to try to help his team.
Two weeks ago in a 73-0 win over Valley, Johnson filled in as long snapper for injured Jake Brazier.
Johnson also tried to line up with the kickoff team in the third quarter before perturbed coach Paul Doherty, concerned about an injury, yanked him off.
"I'll do anything to get on the field," said Johnson, who also plays free safety. "They could have put me at right guard and I would have been down blocking, pulling and doing kickouts. I just want to play."
Johnson, the section total yardage leader with 3,448, will try to help lead Sacramento to its first eight-win season in years against McClatchy on Saturday at 1 p.m. in the Metro Conference curtain closer.
Grant in, Del Oro out? - The Bee's Nathaniel Levine offers up a look at the projected playoff field based on predicted outcomes of this weekend's games at sacbee.com/preps. Based on predictions from CalPreps.com, Levine has Grant making the D-I playoffs but Del Oro (Rocklin is predicted to win tonight) failing to reach postseason play in D-II.
River Valley adds win Woodland has forfeited its victory over River Valley last week because it used an ineligible player. That moves River Valley to 6-3 and makes the Yuba City school playoff bound no matter how it fares tonight against No. 11 Yuba City.
Playoff preview show The section and PlayOn! Sports are going to do a selection show online when the playoff brackets are announced Saturday. The show, scheduled to start at approximately 4:30 p.m. when the brackets are complete, will be on the section's PlayOn web portal at cifsacjoaquin.tv. It also will run live on YouTube.
San Jose State lands another Folsom wide receiver Phillip Carter gave a verbal commitment to play at San Jose State, where he will join Del Oro tailback Brandon Monroe. Carter leads the No. 2 Bulldogs in touchdown catches with 10.