It felt like real football Saturday night in Loomis, when No. 3 Elk Grove and No. 4 Del Oro scrimmaged with referees, backed by good crowds on both sides.
Running back Wadus Parker scored on an 80-yard run out of the Wildcat formation and Shaunard Harts had two interceptions for Elk Grove, coming off back-to-back 12-win seasons.
Linebacker Tyler Meteer had a soaring one-handed interception, defensive end Tanner Woods was overpowering, and Mason Humes kicked a 47-yard field goal with plenty to spare for Del Oro, which has won two Sac-Joaquin Section titles since 2010.
Elk Grove beat Del Oro in a Division II semifinal last season; on Saturday, they already were talking about a rematch.
Big on the big two Capital Christian graduated 16 players who earned Golden Empire League academic honors from a 10-win team, but third-year coach Phil Grams is high on two returning players.
Senior lineman Nifae Lealao, a 6-foot-6, 290-pound national recruit, has a 3.9 grade-point average, and junior all-purpose player Justice Shelton-Mosley is a 4.4 student who runs the 40 in 4.4 seconds.
"Justice is the best player on the planet," Grams said. "He's an unbelievable talent and human being. He can do it all."
Del Oro coaching tree Del Oro lost four coaches who now head area programs. Brothers Kyle and Jason Stowers are at Woodcreek, Bill Sherman is with River Valley, and Tim Trokey leads Foothill. And Jeff Dietrich, the veteran offensive coordinator, coaches the Del Oro baseball team.
Brothers Jones Woodland coach Bert Salinas, in his seventh season, said he owes a lot to brothers Dalen and Devin Jones. Dalen is a former Wolves standout now pushing for a starting cornerback job at Fresno State. Devin is a Woodland senior defensive back who has generated recruiting interest.
"Devin's better, faster than his brother was at this stage," Salinas said. "We'll use him."
Pacer power No. 9 Grant impressed in its jamboree against Whitney and Sacramento. Three juniors expected to lead the team are 6-6, 325-pound left tackle Darrin Paulo, 160-pound quarterback Donovan Brown and powerful 230-pound fullback Deondre Grays. Brown delivered the hardest hit of the day when he plowed into a defender seemingly twice his size and bounced up.
Florin progress Florin, coming off back-to-back 4-6 seasons, will be led this season by running back Deon Johnson.
"We had six seniors on our team last year, and we have 24 now," third-year coach Mike Rosales said. "It's a good group. The kids are not going to be scared. They were in some games last year."
Remembering Delavan Burt Delavan, a teacher and football coach at Johnson, died Aug. 15 of leukemia. He was 83. A Sacramento High graduate, Delavan played offensive line at Pacific and was drafted by the Rams in 1952.
He played two seasons for the Army Fort Ord teams and competed with the Chicago Cardinals of the NFL in 1955 and '56. Delavan taught for 30 years at Johnson, beginning when it opened in 1958, and he coached Johnson to Metro League football championships in 1958, '67 and '68.