Roseville High School celebrated its 100th anniversary last academic year. The Tigers celebrated just two varsity football victories, making most Fridays feel far from celebratory.
In the biggest upset Friday among The Bee's Top 20 teams, Roseville stung No. 11 Cosumnes Oaks 23-7 in the opener for both teams, and suddenly, there's life to the program used to title pursuits over the decades.
Veteran coach Larry Cunha said last year's humbling experience left his team "wide-eyed" and overwhelmed by the rigors of the Sierra Foothill League that includes Granite Bay, Del Oro and Rocklin.
Fourteen starters returned this season, led by Matt Razzano on defense, who returned an interception 65 yards for a score, Jordan Kunaszyk (10 tackles), Jake Vaughn (interception), and a host of others who held the potent Wolfpack to 6 rushing yards in the second half.
Kyle Downie scored on a 19-yard run, and he threw 20 yards to Gabe Lira for a touchdown for the Tigers, who next host No. 16 Rio Linda.
Growing fast No. 9 Grant started 17 underclassmen Friday in Chico against Paradise, the longtime North Section power, and the Pacers looked the part of a young bunch, falling behind 14-0. Then they woke up, prevailing 33-14 behind a smothering defense and emerging junior quarterback Donovan Brown. He threw four touchdown passes after saying all summer he was ready to lead the Pacers into a new era. Grant went 5-6 last season, its second losing mark since 1990, though it reached the playoffs a Sac-Joaquin Section-record 22nd consecutive time under coach Mike Alberghini.
Fast learner Tyler McCombs didn't play a down of football until his freshman season at Antelope. Now he can't get enough. A year after passing for 24 touchdowns for the Capital Athletic League champion, McCombs is off to a promising start.
The senior threw a 22-yard touchdown to Mister Harriel and had a 5-yard touchdown run as the No. 14 Titans beat No. 15 Del Campo 14-7.
Wildcats' new guard No. 13 Franklin didn't return an offensive starter from its 12-1 team, but the newcomers have coach Mike Johnson plenty pleased.
Sophomore Lamar Jackson had first-half touchdown passes to Brandon Johnson, the coach's son, and Donovon Vernon, and Matt Allison passed to Jabarri Johnson for a touchdown in the second half to key a 28-12 win over Atwater. Robert Sanders, one of three returning defensive starters, had an interception return to ice the game.
"Lamar can be a special player," coach Johnson said. "He can do amazing things. I think we can be a pretty good team again."
Strong start Ian Book dazzled in his varsity debut, completing 14 of 16 passes for 259 yards and three touchdowns, in No. 7 Oak Ridge's 38-0 rout of No. 10 Vista del Lago. Josh Wellman rushed for 75 yards and a score, and the Trojans' defense, led by linebacker Thomas Mahlman (12 tackles), didn't allow Vista quarterback Matt Jimison much room to work.
Frustrating debuts The losses were few when they powered Nevada Union in the glory days of the late 1980s, but as first-year coaches, Tim Trokey and Dennis Houlihan will now teach big-picture lessons of rebounding following opening-night home losses.
Trokey, the Foothill coach, fell to Oakmont 40-14 as Jordan Naab passed for 228 yards and two touchdowns to Justin Holmes. In Grass Valley, McQueen of Reno rolled 33-16 over Nevada Union in a game moved there because of wildfire smoke in Reno.