At the end of the final practice of each season – or what could be the final practice – it’s common for the underclassmen to hoist and carry the seniors at Monterey Trail High School.
This has happened twice already this fall, with at least one more body haul in the name of tradition in store this week. On the Thursday before the 12th-seeded Mustangs opened Sac-Joaquin Section Division I play, the juniors and sophomores lifted a senior and, in willing every bit of effort into their weary legs, walked and wobbled the length of the field, amid laughter and bonding. The ritual was repeated last Thursday, resulting in more guffaws, and then a spirited 51-45 victory at No. 4 seed Merced on Friday.
Next up? More senior hauls on Thursday and a trip to top-seeded Folsom, The Bee’s No. 1 team the last three seasons and the third-ranked team in the state. Normally, Monterey Trail underclassmen avoid the heavy bodies as they scurry to find the 150-pound cornerbacks or kickers. But there may be a rush to lift Trey Nahhas, the section’s leading rusher who barreled into the record books against Merced.
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound senior rambled for 407 yards, a section playoff record, and five touchdowns. He has peeled off monstrous efforts in his last six games of 272 yards against Grant, 232 against Elk Grove, 174 against Jesuit, 345 against Davis, 242 against Cosumnes Oaks and the 407 against Merced. And per his selfless nature, Nahhas credited his line, saying, simply, “It’s all them.”
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The “them” in the trenches are Dupri Stewart, Javonte Collier, Morris Love, Rodney Spidell, Anthony Almonte, TaWayne Malone and Jamal Tatum. Monterey Trail rushed for 441 yards and had 624 total yards as E.J. Viacrusis passed for 150 yards and a score.
Nahhas slips into an ice bath after big games, and for him, that generally means every week. The honors student also revels in the tradition of a post-practice shoulder ride.
“That’s so much fun,” Nahhas said. “I know what everyone’s thinking because I was there: ‘Man, these guys are heavy. Find the small guys!’”
Nahhas will face a stout defense anchored by linemen Jonah Williams and Sam Whitney and linebackers Sam Whittingham and Bailey Laolagi. Expect some collisions.
“He’s a beast!” Folsom co-coach Kris Richardson said of Nahhas. “Vicious runner who has speed. Great challenge for us.”
▪ Bulldog stoppers – Known for grinding down teams with its wing-T rushing attack, Vacaville also showed it can make big stops. Reid Ramirez stuffed a run play inside the 3-yard line in the closing seconds to secure a 35-28 D-II victory at defending champion Del Oro. Vacaville took the lead for good on a Kane Cunningham 43-yard touchdown run in the middle of the fourth. Del Oro reached the 1 late but lost three yards on a carry, then Ramirez delivered his stop for no gain on fourth down, and the celebration was on. Next up: top-seeded Grant in a semifinal.
▪ Bulldog stoppers Part II – Folsom had three interceptions in its 56-13 victory over Franklin, including an 80-yard touchdown return by Calvin Gardner. Sam Whittingham had a 25-yard interception return for a score in a playoff-opening rout of Stagg of Stockton.
▪ Dragon fire – Sacramento exacted sweet revenge in D-III, beating defending champion Manteca 34-28 with coach Paul Doherty applauding the defense a week after the Dragons rolled Christian Brothers 40-0 in an opener. George Green returned a fumble early for a score and Troy Dangerfield had an interception at the 1 for the Dragons, who won a road playoff game for the first time in program history. Caden Voges passed for 341 yards and four touchdowns, including the final score to Talik Ellis on an 89-yard play.
“Really proud of this group,” Doherty said. “Wow.”
▪ Burris back – Watching Granite Bay’s 28-13 D-I victory over Napa in Placer County from the sideline on Friday was Miles Burris, a Raiders linebacker and 2007 Grizzlies graduate. Said Burris to the Roseville Press Tribune’s Ike Dodson, “I still bleed green and silver.” And perhaps the only man who can fill a letterman’s jacket with more regal appeal than Burris here was Cameron Smith.
The Granite Bay senior linebacker is a three-year starter who holds school career tackling records. Smith also caught a touchdown pass from Justin Yeaton as coach Ernie Cooper has hinted all season that he may soon unleash his top stopper on offense, too. Smith also helped block, freeing Lucas Baiocchi to rush for 114 yards and two scores.
▪ Marauders lose – Tracy beat host Jesuit 48-38 in D-I on Saturday despite Cole Brownholtz passing for 194 yards and two touchdowns, Beau Bisharat rushing for 101 yards and two scores, and Isaiah Bailey scoring on two 70-yard punt returns.
Follow Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD.