There is no easy path to winning the Delta River League, perhaps the strongest league among the 24 in the Sac-Joaquin Section.
Tonight in El Dorado Hills, No. 4 Oak Ridge hosts No. 2 Pleasant Grove with both teams seeking at least a share of the DRL championship.
Heading the title talk is defending champion and top-ranked Folsom, which takes on Pleasant Grove in Week 10. Oak Ridge's only loss was to Folsom (8-0), and the Trojans (7-1) own nonleague victories over No. 5 Rocklin, No. 9 Grant and No. 15 Franklin.
Pleasant Grove (8-0) beat Rocklin, No. 10 Burbank and No. 11 Inderkum in nonleague action, and No. 14 Jesuit last week in DRL play.
Jesuit (6-2) will give the DRL a fourth team in the postseason, and all could wind up in Division I and potentially face off again (Folsom is the reigning D-II section champion and an enrollment bubble team this season).
Line leaders – Offensive- line play has been paramount for Oak Ridge and Pleasant Grove. None of the Trojans' linemen – Nolan Book, Bishane Sagal, Kyler Flynn, Dalton Santos and Giuseppe Scalise – played a varsity snap last season. Tight end Trent Buenzli played last season and is an emotional leader, eager to address the team before games.
Book is the older brother of impressive sophomore quarterback Ian Book, who runs the spread and hands off to tailback Josh Wellman.
Pleasant Grove's line includes seniors Kyle Dixon, Dylan Kaiser, Joey Kinard and Earl Chism, a tight end who started on the defensive line in 2012. The Eagles live to run between the tackles with running backs Ian Broom and Brandon Lewis, and quarterback Dre Terrell, who also throws deep to Wyatt Demps.
Healthy and hungry – Folsom offensive tackle Cody Creason has returned to form the past three league games after suffering a leg injury earlier this season.
"He is back to being our most dominant lineman," co-coach Kris Richardson said of the 6-foot-4, 280-pound junior. "He has great feet and a nasty streak to go with it."
Miller time – Roseville left tackle Kolton Miller has had on-campus visits recently from UCLA and Wisconsin coaches. Both schools offered scholarships. Tonight against Rocklin, the 6-8, 295-pound senior will be scouted by coaches from Washington, which has offered a scholarship, and Cal.
QBs beware – Rio Linda defensive end Vaughn Hingano had three of his team's nine sacks against Casa Roble in last Friday's 35-21 victory that inched the No. 7 Knights closer to the Capital Valley Conference title.
The four-sport athlete has nine sacks.
"Vaughn is one of (the best), if not the best, defensive ends in town," Knights coach Mike Morris said. "He plays both ways for us, at right guard, (and) is a 3.81 (grade-point average) student. He has a high motor; (he's) very strong, quick, relentless and physical. He reminds me of Tedy Bruschi (of Roseville in 1990)."
Chasing milestones – Area running backs expecting to eclipse the 1,000-yard barrier this week include: Jakobe Hawkins, Bradshaw Christian (972 yards); Todd Valliere, Placer (969); Marcel Brown, Rio Linda (948); Francisco Garcia, Marysville (944); Kijafa Burgie, McClatchy (878); and Eddie Ortiz, Rosemont (878).
Receivers who could clear 1,000 yards tonight: Will McClure, Folsom (995); Taron Johnson, Sheldon (959); and and Damen Wheeler, Sacramento (901).
Those approaching 100 tackles this season: Joey Banks, Franklin (98); Cameron Smith, Granite Bay (95); Brent Mason, Oakmont (95); Justin Baser, Bella Vista (94); and Ortiz (93).
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