Familiar foes will meet again, only this time it really matters.
By beating second-seeded Antelope 55-35 on Friday night in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division II semifinal, the Rocklin Thunder returned to the championship game for the third time in 10 seasons.
Rocklin will play Del Oro in the final for the third time. The Sierra Foothill League rivals split the first two meetings, with Del Oro prevailing 18-15 in 2005 and Rocklin winning 21-14 in 2009.
Rocklin (10-3) blasted Del Oro 28-3 in Loomis on Oct. 9. Del Oro (7-6) went 4-6 in the regular season and is 3-0 in the playoffs.
Rocklin eliminated Antelope (12-1) on the strength of Evyn Holtz and William Floyd. Holtz rushed for 80 first-half yards and scored two touchdowns, and Floyd had perhaps his greatest outing, completing 20 of 23 passes for 287 yards and four touchdowns, two to tight end Wesley Preece.
“We and Del Oro have come through the same tough Division II bracket and the same tough league, so in a sense we’re both battle hardened,” Rocklin coach Greg Benzel said. “(Friday), we didn’t punt until the fourth quarter, so it was evident that our guys were focused.”
20 Completions by Rocklin’s William Floyd in 23 attempts in the Thunder’s victory over Antelope
Floyd anticipates a physical game against Del Oro, per the norm.
“There’s just something about playing Del Oro,” Floyd said. “We just let our emotions out against them earlier this season after our tough (38-22) loss to Oak Ridge the week earlier.”
Antelope, led by Temple-bound quarterback Montel Aaron, had its finest season in just its sixth varsity campaign.
No. 5 Del Oro 25, No. 9 Granite Bay 17 in Loomis – Camrion Davis returned an early interception 27 yards for a touchdown, Stone Smartt hit Justin Burrage for a 37-yard score, and Dalton Gee raced in from 25 yards out to give the Golden Eagles a 22-0 first quarter lead, and then held off their SFL rivals to return to the section finals for the fourth time since 2010 and 14th overall (with nine titles).
Bryan Willhide also had a 22-yard field goal for the Golden Eagles. Isaiah Lewis caught touchdown passes of 22 and 17 yards, and Scott Henrichs booted a 23-yard field goal for the Grizzlies (7-6). Brad Fina’s 22-yard strike to Lewis cut Del Oro’s lead to 25-17 with under two minutes to play, but the Golden Eagles recovered the onside kick to secure the win.
The game was a rematch of a Week 10 SFL game in which Del Oro edged the Grizzlies 17-14 to gain a playoff berth. The Golden Eagles went on to beat No. 12 Whitney 34-28 and No. 4 Wood 59-33.
No. 1 Folsom 56, No. 5 St. Mary’s 49 at Folsom – Jake Jeffrey passed for 352 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 208 yards and two scores as the Bulldogs rallied and then held off the Rams of Stockton (10-3) in a wild semifinal. Folsom (13-0) extended its home winning streak to 43 and its state-leading overall streak to 29. Tre Green had a four-yard touchdown run for a 56-42 lead for Folsom’s 15th consecutive section playoff victory.
“We saw them on film and could see how good (St. Mary’s) was, and it was a heck of a battle,” Folsom co-coach Kris Richardson said. “We kept playing, kept competing, came out like gangbusters in the second half. Our guys compete on every snap. We put the ball into Jake’s hands and let him do his thing.
“What a fun game. Now on to the next one.”
No. 2 Elk Grove 30, No. 3 Oak Ridge 18 in Elk Grove – Ryan Robards rushed for 204 yards on 40 carries, boomed a 42-yard field goal and had an interception, and the Thundering Herd’s “Hammerhead” offensive line controlled the second half to reach a section final for the third time since 2012. Elk Grove (13-0) will play Folsom for the title on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Sacramento State.
Julius Fullah, the team’s unsung captain, rushed for 100 yards and had a touchdown, and Jayden Machado hit Jonas McMillan for a somersaulting, five-yard touchdown. Notre Dame-bound quarterback Ian Book had two touchdown passes for Oak Ridge in his final game.
Fullah is a three-year starter, a 4.0 student who is a blocking back, a defensive back and perhaps the team’s quickest player.
“Julius is a great teammate, truly an unsung hero,” Elk Grove coach Chris Nixon said. “He’s a captain, and like Robards, when this season started, we needed running backs, so we plugged those two in.”
No. 1 Central Catholic 48, No. 5 Placer 14 in Modesto – Justin Rice rushed for a school-record 308 yards and five touchdowns as the Raiders (13-0) walloped the Hillmen (12-1) to advance to the championship game against Oakdale on Friday at Lincoln of Stockton. Oakdale is the defending champion, though the Mustangs lost to the Raiders 42-37 for the Valley Oak League title on Nov. 6.
Rice – who has verbally committed to Fresno State, where his brother Jared plays tight end – rushed for touchdowns of 64, four, 32 and five yards and one yard. Josh Frowein also returned an interception 17 yards for a score, and Trae Nichols caught a 17-yard touchdown pass from Hunter Petlansky for the Raiders.
308 Rushing yards, a school record, by Central Catholic’s Justin Rice in the Raiders’ win over Placer
No. 2 Oakdale 51, No. 3 Inderkum 38 in Oakdale – The Tigers (12-1) pulled to within five points with a touchdown late in the third quarter, but Austin Burke broke away for a 64-yard score and Brad Aquino rushed for a one-yard score – his fifth rushing touchdown of the game – to lead the Mustangs (12-1).
Isaiah Crocker had a 97-yard kickoff return to open the game for Inderkum.
No. 1 Sonora 42, No. 6 Bear River 30 at Elk Grove High – Sam Page passed for two touchdowns and Brett McCutchen powered in for two fourth-quarter touchdowns to lead the Wildcats (12-1) to their first title since 1995 and second overall in beating the defending champion Bruins (9-4) on Saturday.
Bear River led 24-7 in the second quarter on a Dave Mastrella two-yard run and Jason Voter touchdown passes of 66 yards to Ben O’Lena and 16 yards to Connor Hollister. Voter’s 12-yard touchdown pass to O’Lena late accounted for the final score.