It started this week with bad blood, or bad paint, actually.
And it ended with a typically spirited game with rooting sections on both sides for the Placer County power programs on their best cheer-and-chant behavior.
So, yes, the best high school football rivalry in the Sac-Joaquin Section overcame dueling not-so-permanent graffiti efforts on each other's campus to emerge in good order.
Bee No. 4-ranked Del Oro rode the relentless leg drive of Dylan Kainrath and the cool leg of Mason Humes under the biggest pressure moment of his young life to top No. 7 Granite Bay 30-28 on Friday night in Loomis.
Kainrath carried a workmanlike 50 times for 226 rough-and-tumble yards behind his sturdy line, healthy again, and Humes coolly drilled a 28-yard field goal as time ran out for the surging Golden Eagles (6-2, 3-0), who remain unbeaten in section play this fall.
Granite Bay (5-3, 1-2) called three successive timeouts to ice Humes, who shrugged it all off and kept practicing his follow-through.
He's one of the top legs in the section. He also heeded the sound advice from Kainrath, who told him to zone in with "Ninja focus."
Del Oro players rejoiced, and the student section, The Black Hole, flooded the field. Granite Bay players saluted their own loyal student followers, The Tribe.
Before the game, student leaders from both schools met and promised a good rooting effort. It happened.
"We have too great of a rivalry to ruin it," Del Oro Black Hole leader and student body president Isaac Jorgensen said.
Del Oro's running game, with Kainrath powering in for three 1-yard scores, was matched against the Grizzlies' passing attack led by Josh Neal. Granite Bay was without two top players – wide receiver-running back Tony Ellison, an Arizona commit, and leading receiver Marc Ellis – with injuries. Neal admirably kept Granite Bay active, passing for 328 yards and four touchdowns.
He hit Dylan Keeney for scoring strikes of 11 and 65 yards and Brian Graber and Michael Geraghty for touchdowns of 42 and 10 yards, respectively. The 65-yard play to Keeney, a Colorado commit, gave Granite Bay a 28-27 lead with 7:28 to go.
"He's a great quarterback," Granite Bay linebacker Cam Smith said. "He's really stepped it up."
Del Oro coach Casey Taylor said his team has improved "a ton" since early losses to Southern California power Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks and longtime national power De La Salle of Concord.
"We made some changes, created some competition in practice, and got better," the coach said. "We were wondering how good we were in those losses. We're pretty good. If we can win out, we'll be in pretty good shape for the playoffs."
Del Oro closes the regular season in Week 10 at surging No. 6 Rocklin, another big rival. The last time Del Oro won the Sierra Football League was in 2011, and it went on to win a section title, the program's eighth, and reached a CIF State Bowl game.
Joe Davidson and Mike Finnerty break down Week 8 of high school football today on ESPN1320 from 9 to 10 a.m. (linked later to ESPN1320.net).