SAN JOSE – The “bucket” lives to see another week of practice in a season no one in black and gold wants to see end.
Excelling at times in all facets, the Del Oro Golden Eagles withstood the charge of one of the Bay Area’s elite programs, delivering a 28-20 triumph over Serra of San Mateo on Friday night in the Northern California Division I Regional championship game at San Jose City College.
Del Oro senior defensive end Tanner Woods – he of the gouged, battered and decaying helmet he affectionately calls a “bucket” – headed a spirited defensive effort with four sacks. Serra, fielding the most prolific team in its storied history, managed just two second-half field goals and never could exploit what Padres coaches were certain was a speed advantage over Del Oro.
Woods’ fellow three-year starting captain, Tyler Meteer, also made plays from his linebacker post and pulled in a spectacular 22-yard touchdown pass from Michael Moore to cap a 99-yard drive for a 14-7 lead over the Central Coast Section Open champion.
And there’s more. Workhorse Del Oro running back Dylan Kainrath chugged and sprinted for 209 yards on 29 carries, bouncing off defenders or racing past them. The senior wears school black and gold colors that cover a lot of black and blue bruises. He has played with myriad injuries – including his knees, ankles, shoulders, back and head – all season.
Kainrath opened the scoring with a 26-yard run and had a 77-yard run to set up the second score.
Moore, a 4.3 student, passed for 106 yards and two scores, including an across-the-grain beauty to TherinHeryford, who also broke up a pass in the end zone with 44 seconds to go. Moore has 10 touchdowns in his last 10 quarters.
And there was the special-teams element with sophomore speedster Trey Udoffia scoring on a 38-yard punt return for a 28-14 lead. For good measure, Del Oro committed just four penalties for 20 yards. Serra had 12 penalties for 112 yards – six for 70 in the second half, including three personal fouls.
Del Oro (13-2) held the Padres (11-3) of the West Catholic Athletic League on downs on the Serra 40 to stall the final threat. Del Oro, anchored by 28 seniors, also kept its cool as Serra players threw cheap shots to the face and necks of stunned Del Oro players in the second half. Several Serra players had to be restrained from charging Del Oro players when the game was over, and others refused to shake hands.
Moments later, when order was restored, Del Oro coach Casey Taylor hoisted the NorCal plaque and pumped it, showing it to his giddy team, the winner of 12 consecutive games, and a sea of black and gold fans. Seemingly all of Loomis made the 144-mile trip from Placer County.
“Amazing,” Taylor said, out of breath. “Our defense really locked down. We made some great plays. We play hard..”
Of Meteer and Woods, Taylor said: “Great players. They’re Players of the Year kinds of guys. Done it all year.”
And of Kainrath, who has 1,866 yards and 24 touchdowns, Taylor said, “He’s been banged up all year. One of the toughest guys I’ve ever coached. Wow.”
Meteer and Woods were sophomore starters when Del Oro made the 2011 CIF D-II bowl game. Now they get another shot, next Friday in Carson against Bakersfield.