Coaches are loyal to the girl who took them to the dance.
In other words, they don’t suddenly flip the script with play calling, approach or design this time of year. For those leading teams in the Sac-Joaquin Section football playoffs, no one is suddenly reinventing the forward pass to throw off the opponent. They stick to core strengths and go for the jugular with a bit of unpredictability when warranted.
Take Antelope. The Titans are a throwback outfit that runs a two-back offense. Antelope beat Grant 29-28 in a Division II thriller, as good a playoff game as we’ve witnessed in our 27 years on the regional beat for The Bee. The Titans went for two and the win late with Garrett Chapman doing the honors on a reverse play. It was a gutsy and great call by coach Matt Ray, whose gritty bunch landed the signature win to define their program after back-to-back 11-0 starts.
Folsom, the top seed in D-I, remains fixed in the spread offense with the motto of getting its best athletes the ball in open space. The Bulldogs scored 30 or more points for the 30th consecutive time in section playoff action with a 41-14 rout of Sheldon in winning their 11th game for the eighth consecutive season. Joe Curry passed for five touchdowns, giving him 46 for the season.
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Elk Grove remains true to the “Hammerheads” offensive line and its balanced wing-T attack that feature the dynamic pass-catch combination of Jayden Machado to Gavin Reinwald. The Herd took out Turlock 42-19 as Machado tossed four touchdown passes, two to Reinwald. Elk Grove visits Folsom on Friday in a semifinal.
Colfax has been a longtime passing program under coach Tony Martello, and that theme continued against Marysville in D-V play. The Falcons capped a dramatic 15-play drive with a Nick Van Doorn end-around, and he warded off three would-be tacklers for a 12-yard score with 11 seconds to play for a 41-38 victory.
Unsung cogs – Elijah Dotson rushed for 278 yards on 34 carries and three touchdowns for Antelope, including the game-turning 42-yard touchdown late that set up Chapman’s winning conversion, but the game ball goes to the offensive line. One cannot gallop for as many yards without help up front. Dotson and the Titans coaches praised the line of Smith Baldock, Zach Rickard, Robbie Loya, Daniel Parker, Dom Jeffries and Jacob Pinola.
“Proud of my guys,” coach Ray said.
Antelope plays at defending champion Del Oro in a semifinal. Del Oro coach Casey Taylor and defensive coordinator Steve Birch know they have a runaway truck headed their way in Dotson, who has rushed for 2,161 yards and 25 touchdowns. Del Oro held Vacaville’s potent run game in check in delivering a 54-13 win Friday in Loomis.
“We will have our hands full with (Dotson) but look forward to the challenge,” Taylor said. “Should be a great game. We’re peaking at the right time.”
Capital matters – Capital Christian didn’t take kindly to its No. 4 seeding in D-V, and did something about it. The Cougars went to top-seeded Sonora, which came in at 11-0, and prevailed 33-30 as Keegan Lewis kicked the winning field goal with 3 minutes left. Jacob Norville had his best game, passing for three touchdowns, gutting out a dislocated finger along the way. The Cougars play Colfax for the title on Friday.
Metro tour – Christian Brothers beat Burbank 21-14 at Hughes Stadium in D-III as Jamarri Jackson scored on a 90-yard kickoff return early and Tyler Vander Waal scored on a keeper to seal it. This was another flashback Metro League feel after CB beat one-time rival Cordova in a playoff opener 30-20. CB and Burbank used to battle it out in the Metro as well. CB visits American Canyon in a semifinal.
Lindsey love – Graylon Lindsey of Sheldon had a 99-yard touchdown run, a highlight for the Huskies on an otherwise long night. That ties him for the longest playoff run in regional history, and it ties him for the longest run in football history, as one simply cannot go any farther.
Damen Wheeler of Valley had a 99-yard run against Grant in the 1995 playoffs. Lindsey’s run is the longest by an area player this season. Jackson of Christian Brothers was reported here to have a 99-yard run earlier this season but upon further review, it was a 96-yard play.