Four weeks into the high school football season, coaches and athletes are spent.
But there’s no rest for the weary. League play starts in earnest this week.
What we’ve learned so far:
SFL heat index – The Sierra Foothill League is deep and talented but not invincible. In El Dorado Hills on Friday, Bee No. 3 Oak Ridge was stunned by a .500 Reed of Nevada team 26-14, with one Trojans touchdown coming on a fumble return. In Placer County, No. 5 Granite Bay fell to Vacaville 13-7, losing the time-of-possession battle to the run-heavy Bulldogs, the last Sac-Joaquin Section team to beat Folsom (in the 2011 Division II final).
These setbacks can serve as wake-up calls. Meanwhile, SFL members No. 1 Folsom, No. 6 Rocklin, No. 14 Woodcreek and No. 18 Nevada Union continue to roll with a combined 15-1 record.
Bruisers and cruisers – De La Salle really is best known as “De La Stomp.” The nationally renowned Spartans of Concord raced past No. 7 Del Oro 52-0 a week after Del Oro defeated state No. 15 Vista Murrieta 22-15 (and three weeks after De La Salle beat No. 9 Jesuit 63-0).
Any local teams that dare frown at those scores and think, “Oh, we’d give De La Salle a game,” are sorely underestimating the Spartans. De La Salle methodically mows under all comers. It is 8-0 against Sacramento-area teams, all blowouts, including 5-0 since 2012. Kudos to the regional teams for taking on the best, to live, learn and grow.
Most telling is this: De La Salle is unbeaten in 254 games against Northern California competition since 1992. The Spartans seek their 21st undefeated season and 10th national No. 1 finish since 1991.
Bowling season – In wiping out four successive good teams, including some of the very best in San Diego and Fresno, Folsom has given every indication of extending the region’s CIF State Bowl entry streak with an explosive, efficient offense headed by quarterback Jake Browning and a suffocating defense led by Sam Whitney, Sam Whittingham and Bailey Laolagi.
What enhances this argument is the recent CIF tweak that now will allow the NorCal No. 1 team (De La Salle pretty much the last 30 years) a NorCal Open bye and an immediate path to the CIF State Open game. Local teams that have reached the state finals include Grant in 2008 (win), Rocklin in 2009, Folsom in 2010 (win), Del Oro in 2011, Granite Bay in 2012 (win) and Del Oro in 2013.
Projected D-II teams in the bowl mix include Elk Grove, Grant, Rio Linda, Rocklin and Vacaville, and smaller schools wanting some of that action include Capital Christian, Placer, Sutter and Winters.
Folsom’s depth – An unsung performer in the trenches for Folsom has been Jake Coveau. He’s filled in admirably for standout tackle Jonah Williams, sidelined since the opener because of an ankle injury and expected back Friday against Granite Bay.
“Jake’s a senior, a great story, a kid who plugged right in and has done a terrific job,” Folsom co-coach Kris Richardson said. “He’s been our most consistent lineman. He’s not a dominant force like (teammate) Cody Creason or Jonah, but he’s very good, and he doesn’t make mistakes.”
Vacaville’s might – In sustaining long running drives headed by Chad Hekking and Daveon Harris and playing superb defense, Vacaville evened its spirited series with Granite Bay at 5-5-1. Granite Bay was averaging 38 points in the series.
The Bulldogs (2-1) lost their last road game against a ranked team, 24-23 at Oak Ridge on Sept. 5, when a winning two-point conversion attempt fell just short. Vacaville coach Mike Papadopoulos said of Granite Bay: “They make us better every year.”
Woodcreek’s movers – Woodcreek is 4-0 for the first time, getting a huge performance from the large guys up front: Dominic Balmer, Maurice Dominguez, Travis King, Jordan Williamson, Thomas Austefjord and Andy Owens. They helped Anthony Mahr rush for 168 yards Friday in a 28-14 win over No. 20 Ponderosa, a game in which Malcolm Thomas had 150 receiving yards and scored three touchdowns.
Whitmire love – Inderkum assistant coach Brian Whitmire has a fan in his father, Dave, a regular at Tigers games and forever one of the area’s classy football leaders. Dave Whitmire is the winningest coach in Davis High history with championship teams throughout the 1980s and ’90s, including the 1988 section D-I title team that beat national No. 5 Merced.
A personal favorite for the elder Whitmire was coaching son Brian, a tough-minded, cerebral linebacker, runner and kicker for the Blue Devils a generation ago.
Dave Whitmire is retired from teaching and coaching, though he does help his son with his pool business in Yolo County.
“He’s a great son,” Dave Whitmire said. “He makes me fish out the rats.”