Wadus Parker of run-oriented Elk Grove High School has a simple motto.
Stop us if you dare.
With the Elk Grove wing-T in extra gear through most of three quarters and the defense refusing to buckle, the host Thundering Herd held off Del Oro 35-32 in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division II semifinal every bit as good as advertised Friday night.
The Herd unleashed three 100-yard runners, with Parker leading the charge. He gained 131 yards, including a 64-yard touchdown for a 35-17 lead in the third quarter that ultimately proved crucial. A flag was thrown on the play, and referees met for a moment before waving it off. Replays didn't show any holds.
"Tough game like we thought it would be with them," Parker said, "and it's like my dad says: 'Someone has to stop the run, and until they do, keep running.' "
Robert Frazier rushed for 101 yards and a score to surpass 2,000 yards this season. Fullback Spencer Sheff, normally the lead blocker, had 102 yards to help put the Herd in the D-II title game for the first time.
Elk Grove has five D-I titles, from 1984 to 2001. The Herd (12-1) will face a familiar foe in Folsom, which belted Buhach Colony in the other semifinal. Folsom eliminated Elk Grove 42-28 in last year's semifinals.
Del Oro, the section D-III winner in each of the past two seasons, bowed out at 7-6 but not without a fight.
Brandon Monroe rushed for 194 yards in his third successive monster playoff outing. He scored two touchdowns, including a 12-yard run to pull Del Oro within 35-24 late in the third quarter. He also caught a six-yard touchdown pass from Zach LaBar, and LaBar hit Tyler Mateer for a two-point conversion as the Golden Eagles closed within 35-32 with 56 seconds to play. But Elk Grove recovered the onside kick.
LaBar epitomized his team's grit by playing with a twisted knee in the fourth quarter. Monroe also battled injuries this season as Del Oro endured a murderous schedule. He will play on scholarship at San Jose State next season.
The Herd, meanwhile, will play at Sacramento State next week with revenge in mind, not to mention a shot at a NorCal Regional game, an area first to determine State Bowl berths next month in Carson.
The steady performer amid all the runners for Elk Grove has been quarterback Tommy Arnold. He opened the scoring with a 30-yard pass to Elijah Jones and found Parker on a screen play that Parker broke for a 35-yard sprint to the end zone on the last play of the half for a 28-17 lead.