The tradition continues this week in Del Paso Heights.
Second-ranked Grant and No. 3 Elk Grove continue one of the area’s best high school football rivalries Friday night with both teams riding momentum into an early-season showdown for positioning in the Delta League.
Both teams are 4-0 – Elk Grove led by running back Ryan Robards, and Grant paced by running backs Deshawn Collins and Mike Green – and if recent encounters are a gauge, expect another thriller.
Grant beat Elk Grove 26-19 last season to win the Delta, and Elk Grove beat the Pacers 7-3 in 2013 as the programs tied Franklin for the league crown.
“It’s a great rivalry,” said Elk Grove coach Chris Nixon, the Thundering Herd’s offensive coordinator in the late 1990s when the rivalry picked up steam. “We can’t think of a better place to be this Friday night.”
In a memorable 1991 season opener, the Pacers posted a 12-6 win over Elk Grove, The Bee’s preseason No. 1 team. That was Mike Alberghini’s debut as the Pacers’ coach and began his first of 10 unbeaten regular seasons.
The Thundering Herd never looked back that fall, finishing 13-1 with a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship and The Bee’s Player of the Year, James Kidd.
In 1997, Elk Grove beat Grant 30-27 in a thrilling playoff game that included future NFL players Onterrio Smith and Donté Stallworth of Grant and Lance Briggs of Elk Grove. In the 1998 posteason, the Thundering Herd beat the Pacers 39-8 on a muddy field with Briggs and Smith colliding several times.
Since 1991, the schools have combined to win 10 section titles, with Alberghini winning his seventh last season.
It’s a great rivalry. We can’t think of a better place to be this Friday night.
Chris Nixon, coach of No. 3 Elk Grove, on his school’s game against No. 2 Grant
Another showdown – No. 1 Folsom (5-0) hosts No. 4 Del Oro (2-2) in a Sierra Foothill League game that also evokes memories of yesteryear.
The last time Del Oro played at Folsom was in the 2009 playoffs, and the Golden Eagles made one of the most improbable comebacks in regional history. Del Oro rallied from a 35-7 halftime deficit to win 43-42 as Bryce Pratt rushed for a section playoff-record 345 yards, four touchdowns and the decisive two-point conversion. A Bulldogs field-goal attempt at the final gun bounced off the crossbar and out.
Folsom used that loss as a launching pad to win four section championships and two CIF State titles. Del Oro has won three section championships and appeared in two CIF State bowls since 2010.
Defensive-minded – In Del Oro’s 52-10 win over Nevada Union on Friday, Justin Burrage and Camrion Davis returned interceptions for touchdowns, and Dalton Gee returned a fumble for a score. Del Oro coach Casey Taylor said this might be the best secondary he’s coached in his 13 years in Loomis.
Davis RB hurt – Davis’ leading rusher, Cole Morse, left Friday’s game against Elk Grove because of a knee injury in the second quarter, and the senior fears the worse.
“Probably ACL tear,” he texted, adding, “Getting an MRI (this) week.”
Davis (2-2) had its two-game winning streak snapped in a 55-0 loss to the Thundering Herd.
Dragons roll – Caden Voges of Sacramento High passed for 310 yards and four touchdowns, two to Talik Ellis, in a 42-0 rout of Kennedy in a Metropolitan Conference opener Saturday afternoon in Oak Park. Kennedy entered the game 3-0, its best start since 1990.
Record setters – Union Mine set a school record with 735 yards of offense in its 61-55 nonleague win over Lincoln.
Brody Pearman completed 17 of 23 passes for 406 yards and four touchdowns, two each to Andrew Vaughn and Austin Rigsby. Pearman also ran for 89 yards and two touchdowns, and Zac Cherrington rushed for 90 yards and two scores.
Soccer – Jesuit beat Delta League rival Davis 2-1 on goals by Tyler Moss and Cooper Renteria on Saturday night at the Capital Challenge Cup at Capital Christian. An overflow crowd provided a dramatic backdrop featuring a sea of Jesuit red clashing with a sea of Davis blue.
The teams meet again Oct. 12 in Davis.
Rio Americano beat Capital Christian 2-0 in the other Capital Challenge match.
High school football coverage
The Sacramento Bee’s print edition will feature expanded coverage of high school football 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.
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The Bee’s Top 20
3. Elk Grove
4. Del Oro
5. Granite Bay
7. Oak Ridge
13. Bear River
14. Cosumnes Oaks
16. River Valley
18. Del Campo
20. Cap. Christian