Chris Nixon has been labeled a creative offensive guru by his coaching peers for years.
He gleefully called plays for Elk Grove High School as the offensive coordinator for the storied Thundering Herd championship teams of the late 1990s and early 2000s, stretching defenses and then buckling them with myriad skill players, trap plays and downfield passing routes.
These days, as Elk Grove's head coach, Nixon has simplified things a bit. He goes primarily with two backs, unleashing them on all comers in proving that simplicity works just fine, too.
Robert Frazier and Wadus Parker were sensational again on Friday night, combining for five highlight touchdowns against a formidable defense in a 35-14 win over Del Campo in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division II quarterfinal.
The weather was relatively dry at Elk Grove/Laguna Creek Stadium, but the Herd backs poured it on in every facet.
Frazier, a diminutive 5-foot-7 senior, rushed for 224 yards and scored on runs of 15 and 57 yards, crashing inside, bouncing off tackle or outracing everyone to the corner and down the sideline. Parker, a 5-9 power back with speed, caught a short pass from Tommy Arnold and broke free for an 82-yard score late in the half to give his team the lead for good at 14-7. He capped Elk Grove's first drive of the third quarter with a seven-yard touchdown run, and for good measure, he broke Del Campo's spirit with a 63-yard punt return for a touchdown to make it 28-7. Parker rushed for 90 yards and teamed with Frazier for some big moments on defense with defensive end Bwon Canada.
The Herd (11-1) held the Cougars (9-3) to one offensive touchdown.
Isaac Cisneros scored on a 15-yard interception return for a 7-0 Del Campo lead in the first. Josh Blumgold rushed for 123 yards for Del Campo, and Austin Brown powered in for a two-yard score for the Cougars.
"I put Wadus and Robert out there for everything runs, punt returns, defense," Nixon said. "I've got to give them a break because I don't know what I would do if I ran 40 yards. I'd need a breather. They take turns wearing down a defense. (They're) nice to have. Great players."
And a great line that faced its biggest and most physical front. The Herd line as a group goes by "Hammerheads," and it is coached by Moe Loller, a former Sacramento State lineman whose unit went by the same nickname. The line consists of Jaime Cruz, Matt Loller, Noah McMahon, Christian Vargas and Dior Vela.
Everyone in Herd colors gets into the blocking theme, too. Running back Elijah Jones sprung Parker on his 82-yard scoring reception down the Herd sideline.
"We all got involved," Parker said with a shy grin. "It's all of us. Teams have to stop our running game."
The Thundering Herd will host Del Oro next week in a semifinal match of traditional powers that have combined to win 13 section titles since 1984.
Speaking of super backs, Del Oro has one in Brandon Monroe, who showcased his ability in a scrimmage on the eve of the season, an outing in which Frazier sat out.
"They're really good, and they're enormous up front, and Monroe runs behind them," Nixon said of Del Oro. "Should be fun."