The return of Chase Hatada to Rocklin High School’s defensive line is good news for the Thunder and bad news for the Sierra Foothill League and, potentially, the Sac-Joaquin Section this postseason.
“Welcome back, Chase Hatada!” is how Rocklin coach Greg Benzel described the return of his senior standout.
Hatada, headed to Boise State on scholarship, missed the season’s first five weeks with a left knee strain, but he returned Friday to dominate against rival Del Oro with seven tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble in the No. 8 Thunder’s 28-3 victory to keep its SFL title hopes alive.
“He was champing at the bit to get back in the mix,” Benzel said of Hatada. “He still has to get into playing shape, but he is a force to contend with.”
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Rocklin defensive coordinator Jason Adams agreed: “What separates Chase is his hands. They are extremely quick and powerful, and when he combines it with his feet, he’s pretty tough to block. The re-addition of Chase makes us a much better team.”
When Hatada went down with the injury days before a preseason scrimmage with Grant, he feared the worst.
“When I first hurt it, my knee was twisted, and it was pretty gross. I was laying there, thinking, ‘Did this really just happen?’ I’m lucky it wasn’t worse. I’m so glad to be back. I think we’re really ready to roll now. Friday was a big game for us. We were headed down a bad road,” Hatada said of the Thunder, which is 4-2 overall and 1-1 in league.
Upstart Timberwolves – No. 19 Woodcreek (5-1) enters The Bee’s Top 20 for the first time this season, just in time to face the meat of the SFL schedule, starting with Rocklin on Friday, followed by No. 7 Granite Bay, No. 16 Del Oro and top-ranked Folsom, which has a bye this week.
Woodcreek seeks the program’s first victory over a ranked team and its first win this season against a winning team. The Timberwolves’ five victories this season have come against opponents with a combined 8-23 record. Their lone loss was to No. 3 Oak Ridge, 35-28 in overtime, serving notice that the SFL is the region’s deepest. The Timberwolves average 259.7 rushing yards, led by Tyler England, Isaiah Ajayi and Anthony Mahr, who have combined for 1,334 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Fast finish - Foresthill quarterback Benji Nieves threw a 49-yard touchdown pass to Joey Misuraca with 46 seconds left and clinched the 29-28 win over Valley Christian Academy with an interception in a Sacramento Metropolitan Athletic League opener. Nieves threw two other touchdown passes, a 42-yarder to Emerson Miles and a six-yarder to Misuraca.
Quick finish – Having watched its team take a 69-6 beating after two quarters against Dixon, West Campus’ coaching staff elected not to let the Golden Empire League game continue after halftime.
West Campus (1-6) has for years struggled with low participation on the academically renowned Sacramento City Unified School District campus. The Warriors have surrendered 59 or more points four times this season, with their only win coming on Sept. 12 against new school Western Sierra of Rocklin, 19-13. West Campus went 5-5 in 2013 and 5-5 in 2014 under longtime area coach Nate Harris, who stepped down after last season. West Campus was winless in 2010 and 2011 under different coaches.
To its credit, Dixon took the 63-point lead behind D’Lornn McMullen, Bryce Nakamura and Ben Nefzger.
Name change – With Gov. Jerry Brown signing a bill that bans Redskins as a mascot, California high schools Calaveras, Chowchilla, Gustine and Tulare will in time change nicknames.
Encina in 1990 switched from Apaches to Bulldogs. Johnson and Galt have faced pressure through the years to change their mascots – the Warriors.
Record breaker – Ish Perez has filled in admirably at running back for Davis High, taking over for leading rusher Cole Morse, out for the season with a knee injury.
Perez rushed for a school-record 301 yards on 34 carries in a 38-10 Delta League victory over Sheldon on Friday. Perez joins three other area players to eclipse 300 yards in a game this fall.
Isaiah Tenette of Highlands ran for a state-best and school-record 465 yards in an 84-43 win over Mira Loma, Donovan Switalski of East Nicolaus rushed for a school-record 403 yards in a 30-26 loss to Fall River, and Alex Rowe of Yuba City went for 305 yards in a 48-13 win over Rio Linda.
High school football coverage
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The Bee’s Top 20
2. Elk Grove
3. Oak Ridge
7. Granite Bay
12. Bear River
13. Del Campo
14. Cosumnes Oaks
16. Del Oro
17. River Valley
20. Cap. Christian