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  • Paul Kitagaki Jr. / pkitagaki@sacbee.com

    Friends since sixth grade, Tanner Woods (56) and Tyler Meteer (8) played youth football together. This season, the seniors are Del Oro team captains.

  • Paul Kitagaki Jr. / pkitagaki@sacbee.com

    Meteer, above, and Woods, below, have plans for life after high school football. Meteer wants to play in college, while Woods will start training for the Marine Corps after the season ends.

  • Paul Kitagaki Jr. / pkitagaki@sacbee.com

Preps Plus: Del Oro duo grinds away in senior season

Published: Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013 - 3:20 pm

Their coaches call them "grinders." In football, that's a glowing endorsement.

Tyler Meteer and Tanner Woods of Del Oro High School look the part of every-down players, and they grin in approval of their label.

From helmet to cleats, the 2012 Bee All-Metro first-team players display scars and bruises as proof of their wear and tear. A 6-foot-3, 200-pound linebacker and tight end, Meteer has bare metal showing on his face mask, the rubber scraped away from so many collisions. Woods, a 6-1, 240-pound guard and defensive end, has a gash on the bridge of his nose and tape to cover his embattled fingers.

"And look at my bucket," Woods said, pointing to his helmet.

It's seen better days and looks as if it's been hurled off a mountain, bounced off sharp rocks and rolled through timber. Deep grooves and scuff marks landscape the top.

"I take most pride in succeeding in such physical positions," Woods said. "It's football."

Three-year starters, Meteer and Woods were named captains this season by their teammates, and both seniors sigh in wonderment at how fast it all has gone by. Neither wants this season to end without winning a second Sac-Joaquin Section championship in three years.

And the seniors are as different off the field as they are similar on it.

Woods is a cowboy. He cherishes his boots, Wranglers, flannel shirts and country upbringing. He's wrestled cows, chased chickens, cornered goats, fed slop to hogs. His Twitter profile bears one word: "Howdy."

He is a 3.1 GPA student who will enter the Marine Corps upon graduation, saying it's the patriotic thing to do.

Meteer is no cowboy, but he is a bit of a free spirit. He wears a tie-dyed shirt under his football gear in practice. He is a 4.1 student, a mathematics whiz who wants to study engineering in college.

Meteer and Woods have known each other since the sixth grade. They played youth football and crashed into each other during practices. Each praises the other. Del Oro coach Casey Taylor said not only do Meteer and Woods lead on the field, they are also active in the community as part of the program's character development.

"They're the complete package," Taylor said.

Woods said the Golden Eagles draw strength from Meteer's father.

Steve Meteer attends games in a wheelchair after finishing chemotherapy treatments for lymphoma last year. He also battles diabetes. He has delivered emotional pregame speeches to the team, and he waves his cowbell during games.

"My dad's a big role model for me," Meteer said. "I play hard for him. I do my hardest for him. He's doing all right. It's great to have him at games."

Meteer's mother, Mary Ellen, prepares Friday team meals. Players know a wink and a hug of appreciation means a second run through the food line.

"Tyler's dad, the way he's handled things, it speaks of his character," Woods said. "And his character has passed onto Tyler. How he keeps focused, his work ethic in class and on the field is amazing."

As blockers, Woods and Meteer are paramount in Del Oro's power running game. Meteer is also a receiving threat with four touchdown catches. Woods has dominated at defensive end, and his fourth-down stop of Grant running back Deandre Whittington-Grays allowed Del Oro to beat the Pacers 38-35 in double overtime on Sept. 27. Meteer had 20 tackles against Grant.

Meteer moved from outside linebacker to the middle and has blown up plays in the backfield with his burst.

"They both make plays," Del Oro defensive coordinator Steve Birch said. "They make some plays that are ridiculous."

Meteer hopes to play in college and has been invited to the Down Under Sports High School All-Star Football Classic next June. Woods is playing his final downs of football, in no hurry to finish but eager for life's next chapter.

"As soon as the season is over, I'll start training for the Marines," Woods said. "I love football, and the high school game is the most pure form of the game. That's why we play so hard."

Follow Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD, check out Preps Plus Insiders every Monday at blogs.sacbee.com/preps and listen to his "Extra Point" every Wednesday on ESPN Radio 1320.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

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