November 30, 2006
Union Mine, oh so fine

Question: I continue to be astounded by the lack of coverage in the media given to Union Mine High School. UM's football team will be playing Grant this week for the Section II championship, and if you were to believe The Bee, the winner has already been determined. I know Grant is a powerhouse, but they have been for years. Where is the story in that? I invite you to visit the sleepy little town of El Dorado and come by UM. This year's senior class is really special. Not only do they have an excellent football team (as juniors they were in the section playoffs), they have an outstanding basketball team. Remember their "cagers" were in the Division III final four last year and lost to St. Mary's. This year they are sure to be the Sacramento area's top Division III preseason favorite. I've followed these kids since they were 7-year-olds playing soccer, through their middle school years playing basketball, Little League, and NCSA football, and now into high school. They are not only outstanding athletes, they are excellent students and all-around great kids. Please come up and have a look.

- Ric Williams

Answer: One of the frustrating aspects of covering a huge area and so many schools, is that we can only scratch the surface of what so many of these fine programs offer. But you'll be happy to know we have a feature running Friday on the Diamondback footballers, and we will cover the game Friday night. Of course, the Diamondbacks would get statewide recognition with an upset of the state's No. 3 team.

- Bill Paterson

November 30, 2006
What's Grant complaining about

Question: Why do we continue to read about Grant complaining about the playoffs and state championships games? Grant chose their fate, and to list them as ranked No. 2 in Division I Northern California is a joke. They played some tough Division I teams in preseason, then spent the remainder of the year pounding Division II teams. There are several high-quality D-I teams in this area that would have certainly changed Grant's (unbeaten) record. To play D-I teams sometimes and not week after week makes you a Division II team, not a Division I contender.

- Tim Meehan, Elk Grove

Answer: I think Grant's complaint gets back to the realignment and the fact that the Pacers were originally going to be in one of the two new Delta leagues. But Mike Alberghini, the athletic director as well as football coach, realized that most of the Grant programs would be outmatched playing at that toughened Division I level, and Elk Grove district officials really didn't want the Pacers, either, especially not in football. But instead of keeping the football program in D-I as the realignment committee should have done, they moved the entire Pacers program back into the weakened (moving out Granite Bay and Nevada Union) Metro Conference. As good as the Pacers are this season, I doubt they would be undefeated if they had played in the Delta Valley Conference instead of the Metro. But that's not Grant's fault. As for Grant's high NorCal ranking, it's unfair to criticize now. A lot of folks thought Bakersfield, Valley Christian of San Jose and Franklin of Stockton were going to be a lot better than they turned out. And everyone knew the other Metro teams would be no challenge for the Pacers. Not to take anything away from Vacaville, but wouldn't it be nice to have Grant and Elk Grove meeting in Friday's City Championship game?

- Bill Paterson

November 22, 2006
Playoffs made easy

Question: Could you please explain how the section football playoff system works? There apparently are several different divisions and many different leagues and there also is The Bee poll. How is it determined who goes to the postseason, where they go and how many rounds there are?

-Doug Stanley, Sacramento

Answer: The Sac-Joaquin Section's playoff format is pre-determined in advance. There are no power ratings or postseason seedings. The Bee poll has no factor into which teams advance to the playoffs. The top two or three teams in each of the section's 26 leagues qualified for the postseason, with league champions hosting at least first-round games. This year the section expanded to seven divisions. In Division I, the section's largest seven leagues participate in a 16-team format, eight from the north and eight from the south. Area D-I leagues, based on enrollment, scope of programs and geographic location are: Delta Valley Conference, Delta River League and Monticello Athletic League.The first three rounds are played geographically in either the north or the south at home sites based on league seeding and overall records. Then the north champion plays the south champion Dec. 9 at the University of the Pacific. Unlike D-I, The D-II through D-V playoffs have eight-team fields, so there are a maximum of three playoff games in each division. D-II is composed of the Metro Conference, Sierra Valley Conference and Sierra Foothill League. The championship game will be 7:30 p.m. Dec. 1 at Folsom High School. The D-III playoffs involve the Tri-County Cofnerence, Solano County Athletic Conference and the Capital Athletic League. The D-III final is 1 p.m. Dec. 2 at Oakmont High School. The D-IV league is made up of the Capital Valley Conference, Pioneer Valley League and the Valley Oak League. The final will be 7:30 p.m. Dec. 2 at UOP. The Division V division doesn't feature any teams or leagues from our area. Division VI is a six-team playoff involving the Golden Empire League and the Southern League and DVII is a four-team playoff involving the Sacramento Metro Athletic League and the Harvest Christian League.

- Bill Paterson

November 22, 2006
Playoff alignments

Question: Now that California has a football championship, shouldn't the Sac-Joaquin Section correct the alignments so teams are in line with the CIF CBEDS (enrollment figures) that determine the state Division 1, 2, 3 teams? This year may be an exception, but the section hurt this year's teams by not following the CBEDS. Yes, there are no guarantees, but If things played out correctly, Grant and Del Oro would have had good shots at playing in the state finals at different divisions. As it stands now, If Grant wins the D-II section title, it still has a shot, but also knocks out Del Oro. CBEDS show others should be moved also - Oak Ridge, Rocklin, Granite Bay, Del Campo, all of whom are in D-I for state consideration but in either D-II or D-III for section playoffs.

- Daro, Rocklin

Answer: The section will never go to fewer divisions and, consequently, fewer playoff teams. One of the big reasons section officials expanded from five to seven divisions was to increase the number of playoff teams, the number of champions and the postseason revenue. While the section would love to have a playoff representative or two in the state football games, the section playoffs are too valuable to fool around with. If the state championships turn out to be a big success, as I expect they will, don't be surprised if the CIF expands to five state playoff games in the near future. Then the state CBEDS might better align with the section's divisions. But it won't be perfect because teams aren't in certain divisions solely because of enrollment. Location and scope of programs also factor in, which is why Rio Linda remains in the Capital Valley Conference even though all its league colleagues have smaller enrollments. With 2,000 students, most would consider the Knights a Division I school (and they are for state playoff considerations), but they are D-IV in the section playoffs. Of couse, a lot of this debate could have been avoided if the section had done the right thing and kept Grant in Division I for football only during the last realignment.

- Bill Paterson

November 22, 2006
Grant football's future

Question: What will happen to the Grant football program after Mike Alberghini leaves? He has said that next year may be his last. We all know what happened to the baseball program after Mike left to coach football. And who will be the next head coach when Mike leaves? As a former head JV gootball coach at Grant, it is very important to get a well qualified person to step in. But I think more importantly, the right personality and character should be the deciding factor. Maybe Aaron Garcia? What are your thoughts?

- Sean Odom, Sacramento

Answer: Love him or hate him, Alberghini is a special coach. Grant was good before he became the head coach but he elevated the program to another level in winning the school's four section football titles. He relates well to his athletes and knows his football, despite what some of those Monday-morning quarterbacks think on Friday nights in the Pacers' grandstand. There will be a huge void when he leaves and the football program could go the way of the baseball program. For those in Del Paso Heights, they should hope that he hangs in there two or three more years. Something Alberghini might consider would be going to a co-head coach format that several other area veteran coaches use, most notably Dave Hoskins at Elk Grove. Hoskins shares duties with the highly capable Jeff Carlson, saying he has all the fun and lets Carlson do all the work (such as administrative stuff). That way Alberghini might be able to stay at the helm awhile longer. If he's interested, Garcia certainly would be a good choice. He knows the area and has instant credibility as the former Pacers' quarterback star who has broken all kinds of Arena Football League records. But whoever replaces Alberghini will have a difficult act to follow.

- Bill Paterson

November 22, 2006
Private vs. Public

Question: I was looking at football rankings for the state championship game contenders and I noticed that most of the top teams are from private schools. I don't think this is fair at all because private schools have the power to recruit whomever they want while public schools usually have boundary limitations. I think that in the future, there should be a seperate divisions for all of the private schools, so that the playing feild is even. What do you think about this, and do you think that it will ever happen?

- Natalie Yacyshyn, Loomis

Answer: Eventually, there will be separate playoffs for private and public schools because it's a big issue in Southern California and the Bay Area, where the private schools are much more dominate. Of course, it hasn't been much of a factor in the Sacramento area in football, although it's more of an issue in lower profile sports. Jesuit has a very good football program under coach Dan Carmazzi, but the Marauders have won only two section titles and got eliminated in the first round this year after failing to make the postseason last year. Christian Brothers' glory years in football came in the 1980s, when the Falcons won two section titles and played in a third final. But CBS has had a lot of lean seasons in recent years. So as far as area football is concerned, the playing field is plenty level and perhaps a model of how public schools can hold their own despite the advantages that private schools offer.

- Bill Paterson

November 22, 2006
Here's what happened with that

Question: The Nov. 21 Preps Plus section "What's coming up" stated that the All-Metro teams for golf, tennis and water polo were to be announced in that day's paper. I could not find this section? Did the list not make it to press today or am I missing it?

- Mark Plank, Roseville.

Answer: No, it has yet to be published. I'm not sure what happened, but that "teaser" reference was inaccurate. The All-Metro girls golf, girls tennis and boys and girls water polo teams are scheduled to be published in Preps Plus on Nov. 28. The boys and girls All-Metro cross country, boys soccer and girls volleyball teams are scheduled to be published in Preps Plus on Dec. 5.

- Bill Paterson

November 22, 2006
Can Del Oro beat Grant?

Question: Do you think that Del Oro will match-up with this year's version of the mighty Pacers? And I have another question. In case you didn't know all four of Grant's DI Championship teams had 8-2 regular-season records before winning the DI Championship. All of the undefeated teams lost in the city championship game. Even the '97 team that was 12-0 and had Onterrio Smith and Donte Stallworth lost in the city championship game. My question is: Do you think Grant is cursed and needs two losses to win a championship. But that was D-I and this is now D-II.

- Lamont West, Sacramento

Answer: On paper, there is no way that Del Oro matches up with Grant. The Pacers have a lot more speed and size overall, making them the clear favorites. But Del Oro coach Casey Taylor and his staff are masters at preparing their team and finding other team's tendencies and weaknesses. They also feed off other teams' mistakes and the Pacers have the rep for sometimes being careless. The real test will come on both sides of the line. Can Del Oro's ball-control offensive line contend with Grant's lightning-quick defenders. On the other side, can Del Oro contain gifted quarterback Tim Lang and keep the Pacers out of the open field, where they potentially could feast on the Golden Eagles' slower secondary. It's interesting that you bring up those streaks. Unless Grant coach Mike Alberghini made a deal with the devil some years back, I don't think history, as intriguing as it is, will have any influence on this game.

- Bill Paterson

November 22, 2006
Semi-final game: It's not right

Question: Please explain how the top two Sac-Joaquin Section teams in the area (according to MaxPreps) play in the Division II semi-finals? One of these two teams, No. 2 Del Oro vs. No. 3 Grant, won't get a chance to play in the Sac-Joaquin Championship game, where the winner of No. 5 Granite Bay vs. No. 11 Union Mine will. This is just not right for Del Oro and Grant.

- Joe Feyder, Loomis

Answer: I feel your pain, and it would seem a no-brainer that you'd want your two best teams to meet in the section final, not the semifinals. But the Sac-Joaquin Section uses pre-determined playoff brackets to, in their words, take the politics out of the playoffs. But most high school football coaches would rather see some sort of power rating used to determine playoff teams and seedings to avoid Friday's ridiculous scenario of having The Bee's top-ranked team, Grant, play our No. 2 team, Del Oro, one game before the D-II championship. By the way, Grant ranks No. 3 in the state and Del Oro No. 12 in Cal-Hi Sports latest rankings, which means we aren't the only ones who think the Pacers and the Golden Eagles are this year's two best area teams. Not only does the section's pre-determined seeding cost Del Oro, the defending section champions, a deserved second-round game at home, the Golden Eagles have to play in Del Paso Heights. If Grant and Del Oro both met in the finals, the game would be at neutral Folsom High School.

- Bill Paterson

November 16, 2006
Playoff schedules

Question: I was curious why, with it being the Thursday before high school football playoffs, the playoff schedules are nowhere to be found in the Sac Bee? Did I miss them? Am I looking in the wrong place? If I missed them in any of this week's papers, or on the Web page, I apologize ... But it would be nice to follow the high school football playoffs, especially the playoffs, especially with it being a Bowl Championship playoff system this year.

- Steve Alber, El Dorado Hills

Answer: The high school football playoff schedule ran on Monday in the sports section with a notebook item about area teams that might have a shot to play in the first state championship games, and we will have more in Friday's paper and online. High school football runs in the sports section and online on Mondays (notebook and poll), Fridays (football feature, football notebook, football game caps, on-line coaching interviews, etc.), Saturdays (game results; How Top 20 Fared) and Sundays (game results, Week's Stars). During the fall, Tuesday is for the PrepsPlus page (usually non-football related), Wednesdays for high school soccer and Thursdays for high school girls volleyball. As a prep reporter, we'd love to have high school football in the section every day, but unfortunately there are space issues.

- Bill Paterson

November 16, 2006
Grant vs. De La Salle

Question: Have you heard of any rumors about efforts to schedule a Grant vs. De La Salle game in the future? These two great programs need to meet!

- Jerome Carmon, San Jose

Answer: No, I haven't, and I haven't talked to Grant's Mike Alberghini about it. It would be a big feather in this area's cap to land the Spartans because right now De La Salle is at a different level than any of our area schools, as good as some of them are. De La Salle is the Manchester United of high school football. I could be completely wrong about this, but I don't think De La Salle officials think they would have anything to gain by playing Grant. These guys are ranked No. 1 in the country and have a national profile, so they are competing in events like the Ohio vs. USA Challenge in Cincinnati and against Southern California powers like Mission Viejo. That's what happens when you win 14 consecutive section titles and hold the national record for consecutive wins at 151, set from 1992 to 2003. If Grant continues to bolster its non-league schedule and can string together several undefeated seasons, then the Pacers might catch the eye of a De La Salle. The big question remains: How long will Alberghini coach?

- Bill Paterson

November 14, 2006
They are the champions

Question: Why was Del Campo (8-2) given the Capital Athletic League football championship when Casa Roble (9-1) had a better win/loss record?
- J. Taylor

Answer: Because only league records factor into which team is crowned the league champion. Both of Del Campo's losses were in non-league games, and the Cougars (5-0 in league) beat Casa Roble in their head-to-head meeting to take first place in the CAL.

- Bill Paterson

November 14, 2006
Pacers placement hurts

Question: Having gone to Grant High School and having played Grant high sports, it hurts to see Grant dropped down to Division II, especially for football. Grant was a football powerhouse in Division I and is now running the scoreboard in this new division. Do you see them getting put back in to Division I anytime soon?

- Gino, Sacramento

Answer: I don't, although the Sac-Joaquin Section should do the right thing and at least for the next few years place Grant in the Delta River League for football only (moving Montrey Trail or Florin into the Metro Conference for football only) with Jesuit, Sheldon, Folsom, Pleasant Grove and either Monterey Trail or Florin. It's what should have been done in the last realignment. There is one positive for the Pacers in being in Division II. The playoff field, which includes Del Oro, Granite Bay, Union Mine and Oak Ridge, may be every bit as tough if not tougher than Division I this season. It's just too bad this gifted Pacers team didn't get a chance to be tested after Week 3 of the regular season. However, for all other sports, Grant is a perfect fit for the Metro and Division II. The Pacers match up well in sports like basketball, soccer, baseball and softball with teams like Hiram Johnson, Rosemont, McClatchy, Burbank and Sac High.

- Bill Paterson

November 7, 2006
Marshall High no more

Question: I played football and basketball for Gridley High School in the mid-50s. We played a school from Sacramento in football and also at a basketball tournament called James Marshall. I have not read or heard about this school for many years. What happened to James Marshall?

- Harland Ramsey, Gridley

Answer: The West Sacramento school, which spawned future major leaguers Dave and Steve Sax, was consolidated in 1978 with Washington High School to form River City High School.

- Bill Paterson

November 2, 2006
Turkey Game redux

Question: Between Sacramento High and McClatchy High, who won the Turkey Game in the years of 1956 through 1964?

- Bob Lewallen, Sacramento

Answer,: McClatchy and Sac High are trying to revive some of the old tradition by holding a "Turkey Day Game" at noon Nov. 10 at Hughes Stadium. It's the final regular-season football game for both teams. As part of promoting the event, there is a Web site that lists highlights from the series when it was held on Thanksgiving Day starting in 1936. Go to for details.

- Bill Paterson

November 2, 2006
What a kick(er)

Question: Recently our young sophomore PAT kicker scored 9/9 PATs in one half, and was 10-for-12 for the game in a league game. Do you have any information about what the California record(s) are for PATs in one half of high school football and for a whole game. I would love to get this young athlete some attention for his performance.

- Steve Terhune, Stockton

Answer: Sorry, the Cal-Hi Sports Record Book doesn't break down conversion kicks by quarters or halves. The record-holder for a game is George Williamson of Bakersfield, who had 18 conversions in a 130-0 win over Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, in 1920. Fourteen players have booted at least 11 in a varsity game. Gio Podesto of Central Catholic had 11 in four different games in 2004. For more information, you could try contacting Mark Tennis at

- Bill Paterson

About the Prep blog

Bee staff writers Joe Davidson and Bill Paterson provide news, analysis and insight on the area high school sports scene in their Prep Blog. Have a question to ask them? Send them an email any time at or

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