League openers highlight the weekend, and the debate as to which conference is the most competitive is sure to intensify.
Is it the Delta League that features No. 2 Elk Grove, No. 3 Grant, No. 7 Jesuit, No. 9 Franklin, No. 10 Monterey Trail and No. 14 Sheldon? And will they all make the playoffs?
Is the Sierra Foothill League still the region’s strongest with No. 1 Del Oro, No. 4 Rocklin, No. 6 Folsom, No. 11 Oak Ridge and No. 17 Granite Bay?
What about the Capital Valley Conference? Is it one of the toughest with No. 8 Antelope, No. 12 Whitney, No. 13 Roseville, No. 15 Del Campo and No. 19 Cosumnes Oaks?
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Friday’s games likely will find more players taking a knee during the national anthem in support of national racial injustice concerns first raised by 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, a trend that continues to grow in the NFL. . While nearly all prep football players have continued to stand, players from Johnson and Laguna Creek took a knee last week. Players from El Camino have said they will do the same this week. The Sacramento Unified and Elk Grove Unified school districts have not allowed athletes and coaches to comment.
No. 1 Del Oro (4-0) vs. No. 17 Granite Bay (1-3)
When: Friday at Granite Bay, 7:30 p.m.
Outlook: This meeting of Placer County rivals has often decided the Sierra Foothill League championship. A year ago, Del Oro needed a Week 10 victory over the Grizzlies to ensure a playoff berth. The Golden Eagles edged the Grizzlies in the playoffs, too, en route to Sac-Joaquin Section, NorCal and CIF State championships. Granite Bay has played a tough schedule, with losses to playoff regulars Jesuit, Whitney and Vacaville to go with a 27-14 win at San Jose power Oak Grove. Granite Bay’s defense will have its hands full with Del Oro’s 1-2-3 punch of quarterback Stone Smartt, running back Cam Davis and wide receiver Mason Hurst.
No. 3 Grant (3-0) vs. No. 9 Franklin (3-0)
When: Friday in Del Paso Heights, 7:15 p.m.
Outlook: Sizing up the Pacers, Franklin coach Mike Johnson said, “They’re big, fast and physical, again.” Franklin’s young team will be tested on the lines, where Grant is especially big and physical, headed by national recruit Orlando Umana. Franklin linebacker and team leader Kaderro Tamondong will focus on Grant running back Tyree Marcelle, who has produced games of 202 and 282 yards this season with six touchdown runs of 50 yards or longer, and wide receiver Lawrence Hardy, who has scored on offense, defense and special teams. Franklin’s Nico Regino has hit Brady Johnson for four touchdown passes.
No. 10 Monterey Trail (3-0) vs. No. 14 Sheldon (3-0)
When: Friday at Monterey Trail, 7:15 p.m.
Outlook: Both teams prefer to run the ball behind throwback coaches T.J. Ewing of Monterey Trail and Joe Cattolico of Sheldon. And both have capable quarterbacks, Monterey Trail with Robert Holt (323 passing yards, six touchdowns; 298 rushing yards, three scores) and Sheldon with Chance LaChapelle (494 passing yards, five touchdowns). Both teams have defensive playmakers, Sheldon with defensive back Alex Cook, also a standout wide receiver with three touchdowns, and Monterey Trail with linebacker Bishop Brown.
No. 13 Roseville (4-0) vs. No. 15 Del Campo (2-1)
When: Friday in Fair Oaks, 7 p.m.
Outlook: Expect Del Campo to run the ball with Greg Cabral, who rushed for 358 yards in a 26-21 win over Merced and 293 yards in a 15-6 triumph of Vanden last week. In a 48-21 loss to Monterey Trail, the Cougars had four interceptions. Roseville also likes to run the ball with Brendan McMinn, though Nick Martig averages 116.3 passing yards a game to provide balance. Roseville’s defense, which includes UCLA-bound defensive end-tight end Jimmy Jaggers, has been dominant.
No. 20 El Dorado (4-0) vs. Bear River (1-2)
When: Friday in Grass Valley, 7:30 p.m.
Outlook: In this nonleague game, Bear River is coming off a frustrating 21-14 loss to Marysville as a late pass attempt in the end zone fell incomplete on the final play. Fullback Austin Baze is healthy and will boost the Bruins’ offense significantly. He does not play every down to stay fresh at linebacker. El Dorado is eager to play after winning last week’s game by forfeit over Golden Sierra (not enough players) The Cougars are led by Aaron Golmitz (504 passing yards, five touchdowns), Hank Hasemeier (309 rushing yards) and Chris Volek (210 receiving yards).
Friday night football
The Bee’s print edition will feature expanded coverage every Sunday, including insight from Joe Davidson, highlights of the top weekend games, how The Bee’s Top 20 fared, scores and more. Can’t wait until Sunday? Go to sacbee.com after the games on Friday nights for highlights, scores, photo galleries and more.
Join us every Friday night at 6:30 p.m. to discuss that night’s games before they start and as they are played. sacbee.com
Where’s Joe D?
The Bee’s Davidson will be at Monterey Trail on Friday for the 10th-ranked Mustangs’ game against No. 14 Sheldon.
Bee photographers will be at Sheldon at Monterey Trail and Roseville at Del Campo on Friday night. sacbee.com/high-school
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Calling on coaches
Area high school football coaches are encouraged to report results immediately after games. Call 916-441-4100 or email email@example.com.