At one point Friday night, Mike Maben offered an expression of resignation.
The public address voice for Del Oro High School football, having seen plenty of the rumbling fullback’s act, finally sighed, off mike, “That guy is a wrecking ball.”
That guy would be Evan Tattersall, a 6-foot-3, 225-pound package of forward-lean football fury.
The Cal-bound senior powered in for two 1-yard touchdown runs and a 2-yard plunge, and he was masterful on a fake handoff that led to the sealing score as No. 2 Granite Bay pulled away from No. 5 Del Oro 28-21 in a Sierra Foothill League opener in Loomis.
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In a riveting rivalry series that started in 1997, this one was punctuated by an overflow crowd that included moving military tributes to recognize Placer County families who lost loved ones in battle as part of the Honor Bowl, sponsored in conjunction with the 49ers. Del Oro leads the series 11-10.
Tattersall ranked among the most bullish of players Friday night, blending old-school football with a modern look.
The clinching play was when Jade Foddrill faked a handoff to Tattersall on fourth and 1, and the quarterback raced untouched for a 71-yard touchdown and a 28-14 lead with 1:56 to go.
Josh Gazzaniga had a 29-yard touchdown pass to Matt Smart, and Brice Edwards had two 1-yard scoring runs for Del Oro (3-2, 0-1).
Granite Bay (4-0, 1-0) has been led by Tattersall and fellow senior and Cal-bound talent Will Craig, a lineman.
The Grizzlies already eclipsed last season’s victory total as they seek their 19th consecutive playoff berth.
Coach Jeff Evans said he’s been moved by the senior leadership as 15 starters returned, determined to get rolling again.
“What is working so well with our team are the players themselves, especially our seniors,” Evans said before the game. “Our seniors have been great on and off the field. A lot of them were on the field last year and took quite a pounding from some of the better teams in our league. Those same kids grew from that experience and are now a little more battle tested.”
He added, “Our players took quite a bit of criticism last year and learned to stick together. That is a powerful thing. There is no way to attach a win total to that experience but you can see the difference in our players from having to battle that adversity.”
Del Oro played beyond its years as just one starter returned from a team that played for a CIF State championship (after winning one in 2015). That lone returner is senior linebacker Andrew Birch, who epitomizes the grit and grind attitude of a Golden Eagles program that hasn’t missed a beat under first-year coach Jeff Walters, a Del Oro graduate.
The SFL doesn’t get any easier for Del Oro or Granite Bay, either. No. 1 Folsom, No. 3 Oak Ridge and No. 7 Rocklin are all title contenders. Folsom has won all 19 of its SFL games since coming aboard via realignment before the 2014 season.
“Great league, great teams – every week,” Walters said.