Two football teams committed to running the ball but also dangerous at passing meet today for the Delta League championship.
Second-ranked Grant visits No. 3 Jesuit at 1 p.m. in Carmichael in a battle that is sure to come down to the trenches. Who blocks better? Which team opens more holes for its running backs?
Grant (9-0) is led by junior DeShawn Collins, a quick and elusive back who entered the season as a defensive back and backup to 2013 leading rusher Deondre Whittington-Grays, who was slowed with leg injuries.
Collins got the job and held onto it, and his 1,485 rushing yards are second in the area to Trey Nahhas of Monterey Trail, who scooted for 174 yards and three touchdowns on 24 carries last week in a 28-21 loss to the Marauders.
Jesuit (8-1) will run with Beau Bisharat – a powerful back with breakaway ability – who has rushed for 1,439 yards and 20 touchdowns, including five of 73 or more yards.
At quarterback, Jesuit senior Cole Brownholtz accounted for three scores in the win over Monterey Trail, and led the Marauders on a late drive to beat Elk Grove 42-38 earlier this season. His leading receivers are Isaiah Bailey and Luke Bagley.
Grant senior quarterback Donovan Brown threw four touchdown passes – three to Ariyon Huff – in a 43-13 victory in September over Franklin, which also lost to Jesuit 35-19.
“This will be fun, a great battle, and we’ll be ready,” Brownholtz said.
Both defenses rely on their talented linebackers: Grant with Chris Atteberry, Elijah Orr and Carl Granderson and Jesuit with perhaps the area’s hardest hitter, Isaac Lessard.
“Our defense is excited,” Atteberry said. “I told our guys that this is our last year together and we’ve got to go out and make some noise and it starts now. Bisharat is a great running back. We’ve got to make sure we wrap him up and hit him. He’ll beat us if we don’t.”
Jesuit and Grant last met in the 2002 Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs, won by the Marauders when they foiled a two-point conversion attempt.
Follow Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD.