An example of Grant Caraway's competitive drive and refusal to remain idle came last January.
Shortly after he was cleared by a physician to resume physical activity after healing from a dislocated shoulder, Caraway hustled off for a two-hour lacrosse match, collisions and all.
"It's held up nicely," Caraway, Granite Bay's quarterback, explained Sunday while patting his shoulder.
With Caraway at the controls, the Grizzlies have more than held up nicely after a 1-3 start. Granite Bay (10-3), which has won nine games in a row and is unbeaten against Sac-Joaquin Section opponents, will defend its Division I title against surging Oak Ridge (12-1) in what could be a thriller at Sacramento State on Friday night.
Caraway, who succeeded three-year starter Brendan Keeney, has become an expert in the Grizzlies' fly sweep attack, with his fakes as important as his passing accuracy.
Since being intercepted twice in an opening-night loss to Westlake, Caraway has thrown 26 touchdown passes with two interceptions.
In the playoffs, Caraway has 10 touchdown passes and no interceptions in routs of Napa (52-0), Downey-Modesto (56-20) and top-seeded Franklin (37-7).
"Unbelievable what Grant's done, just phenomenal," Granite Bay coach Ernie Cooper said.
Caraway said his quarterback idol has been Kevin Lopina, who played at De La Salle High in Concord and at Washington State. Now Lopina is an Oak Ridge assistant, and Caraway joked that Lopina is no longer returning his texts to discuss defensive schemes and ideas.
"Kevin's been my inspiration," Caraway said. "I wanted to be just like him, and now I get to play against him. It'll be fun."
Hurting Herd Elk Grove defensive end Bwon Canada hopes he'll be able to play Saturday against Folsom in the Division II championship game after breaking his left forearm early in a 35-32 semifinal victory over Del Oro.
Canada's loss would be a blow for a defense that understands that to slow Folsom's prolific attack, it must pressure quarterback Jake Browning, who has thrown 58 touchdown passes.
"I told Bwon that Ronnie Lott played a playoff game after cutting off his own finger," Elk Grove coach Chris Nixon said.
Replied Canada, looking at his soft cast: "We can do that, coach."
Rematch mode Each title game this week is a rematch from last year's postseason.
Granite Bay eliminated Oak Ridge 21-12 in a Division I quarterfinal, Folsom beat Elk Grove 42-28 in a Division II semifinal, Oakdale routed Vista del Lago 49-7 in a Division III quarterfinal, and Escalon edged Central Catholic of Modesto 24-17 in a Division IV semifinal.
Franklin frustration Franklin's undefeated season came to a resounding halt in the loss to Granite Bay.
Running backs Christian Fonbuena, Kyran Harris and Steve Rogers, who combined for 2,476 rushing yards and 36 touchdowns, were sidelined with leg injuries, and standout defensive tackle William Vi was home with the flu.
"Do we beat them full force? Probably not," Franklin coach Mike Johnson said. "Granite Bay's really good, the best we've played."
Reminder to coaches Coaches can nominate players for The Bee's All-Metro team and seniors for the Dec. 22 Optimist All-Star Game at Del Oro by emailing email@example.com by the end of this week.