December 22, 2006
San Joaquin football rocks

Question: Great response to the question of Grant feeding Division 1. I'm a 52-year-old Ohio tranplant who has lived in California for 26 years, beginning in 1980. From 1989 to 1998, I lived in Sacramento, the other years I lived in the Bay Area. As a high school football nut, I travel many weekends from the Bay Area to catch the important games in the San Joaquin Valley. I think I'm unbiased, but from what I've seen, San Joaquin teams are by far, much better than those in the Bay Area and Ohio. San Joaquin football - The best kept secret in California.

- Jerome Carmon, San Jose

Answer: Although Sacramento-area teams were shut out of the inaugural bowl games, area coaches, players and fans learned one thing: The thought that Bay Area football teams are the best in Northern California is more illusion than fact.

- Bill Paterson

December 21, 2006
Grant feeding Division I

Question: The Web site has predicted that Grant will have seven D-I ball players verbally committed before the national letter of intent day. Would this be the most recruits off one team from this area? After watching the high school state football games over the weekend, I believe Grant would have been the most complete team out of the six representatives. I also believe Del Oro would have been a strong team as well. What is your take?

- Edwin Vinson, Sacramento

Answer: Without a doubt Del Oro, with better coaching, would had been a stronger representative than Palo Alto in Division II. And for all the hype about De La Salle, there was no team last Saturday in any of the divisions with the size and speed of Grant. A lot is made about the Pacers' tendency to make mistakes and penalties, but this was a special group that hated to lose and wanted no repeat of that 2005 City Championship debacle against Nevada Union. I think Grant coach Mike Alberghini was right in saying they wouldn't have been anyone's chump, certainly not Canyon's. One thing good that comes out of these inaugural games: It should open more folks' eyes to the fact that Sacto's leading teams, and this includes the Vacavilles, Elk Groves and Del Campos, can hold their own against the Bay Area's top squads. So maybe next year the section commissioners won't pick all their NorCal representatives from the Bay Area. And while we are on the subject, they also need to immediately expand to five divisions, then the following year implement Sac-Joaquin Section commissioner Pete Saco's idea of expanding to five Northern California playoff games and five Southern California playoff games, with the winners to meet the next week in the state finals. As for Grant having seven potential D-I signees, if it happens, that probably will be a record. Mike Dimino had six a few years back at Hiram Johnson, and that the most that we can recall.

- Bill Paterson

December 14, 2006
Alberghini interested in playing De La Salle?

Question: Back in 1998, after De La Salle had beaten Nevada Union pretty handily for the second time, the Sacramento Bee ran an article describing why Sacramento area coaches did not want to play the Spartans. If I am not mistaken, Mike Alberghini was one of the coaches interviewed. Why don't you reprint that article and interview some coaches and see if they feel the same way. If they have changed their minds, they could schedule De La Salle. After all, Concord is not that far away.

-Dennis Giuntini, Susanville

Answer: Scheduling a De La Salle is no easy matter. As the nation's top-ranked team, the Spartans can pick and chose who to play against in their non-league games. This season they played Elder of Cincinnati and Southern California power Mission Viejo, in addition to Serra of San Mateo and Palma of Salinas. So they may have no interest in playing Grant or another Sacramento team for that matter. In checking our archives, Alberghini talked about a potential De La Salle-Grant matchup in a 2002 Bee article, but said at that time it would only make sense for his school to play later in the season because the Pacers are slow starters. "We'd have to play them early, which we wouldn't want to do," Alberghini told former Bee sportswriter Darrell Moody. "Too many people (would) think it's the most important game of the year. If we played De La Salle in Week 1 or Week 2 and lost, then it would take time to recover. I saw De La Salle play Nevada Union for two straight years, and they (Nevada Union) didn't recover for four or five weeks." Alberghini told us earlier this week he hopes to talk to De La Salle officials after Saturday's state bowl game about scheduling a future contest, so he's definitely interested.

- Bill Paterson

December 14, 2006
Where's the Central Valley Christian League?

Question: I was reading through the high school basketball preview issue (Dec. 8), and I noticed that the Central Valley Christian League has no information available for both the boys and girls. Why? It has proven to be one of the best D-5 leagues around, I know that D-5 basketball is not necessarily a priority, but the other D-5 league (Sacramento Metropolitan Athletic League), with some new schools and less playoff success, did have information. In other words, how does Sac Adventist and Sacramento Counry Day get more coverage then Forest Lake Christian and Sacramento Waldorf?

- Isaak Hietzeberg, Fair Oaks

Answer: We send preseason boys and girls basketball questionnaires to all area schools we cover, including those in the CVCL. I've been told that only one of those questionnaires was returned, and that a reporter's phone calls to several schools went unreturned. We were able to get information on the other 12 leagues we cover. I can't speak for coaches or athletic directors in the CVCL, but maybe media coverage is a lower priority for them.

- Bill Paterson

December 14, 2006
It was a glitch

Question: Why aren't the school and sport included in the series "2 minutes with..." I have seen it included only a few times. I would like to know what school and sport the atheltes are representing.

- A.E. Hanrahan, Elk Grove

Answer: If that information wasn't there, then it was a glitch. Looking at the last two issues of "2 Minutes With" in PrepsPlus, the school and sport are listed in boldface under the athletes' photographs.

- Bill Paterson

December 14, 2006
All-league teams are coming

Question: What about The Bee's All-Metro football team and the various football all-league teams? Are you going to publish them?

- Gary Grace, Granite Bay

Answer: The Bee's All-Metro Football Team will be published on Saturday (Dec. 16). All the all-league football teams that we have received will be published the same day in Scoreboard.

- Bill Paterson

December 8, 2006
Where zebras come from

Question: Where does the CIF get its football officials? Are there actual training sessions and a quiz they must pass in order to officiate in any sport? Part of the reason I am asking is that this football season I saw pretty good officiating until the playoffs, then it went downhill quickly. You'd think the best officials are assigned to the big games, but I saw ghost calls in games my son's team both won and lost. You can find holding on just about every play, but when it's nowhere near the ball, leave it alone.

- John Hull, Elk Grove.

Answer: Contrary to popular belief, high school officials don't buy a striped shirt, grab a whistle and study a rule book for a few hours and then take the field. As members of the Northern California Officials Association, Sacramento-area football officials are a pretty dedicated group. Before they can throw their first penalty flag, they have to pass (with minimum of 70 percent) a 100-question written test, which they must take each year. Before and into the early part of the season, officials attend three-hour classes once a week over a six- to eight-week period during which they receive specialized instruction and feedback. Officials' on-field performances also are rated after each game and these evaluations are used by a rating committee to rank officials on a scale of 1 to 5. "Fives" are usually the least experienced officials while "1" are veterans, most of whom serve as the referee or "white hat" on a crew because of the distinctive white cap they wear. Ratings can change from season to season based on performance, so a 1 can drop to a 2 or a 5 can move to a 4 or higher, etc. Most playoff games are manned by officials with the highest ratings. But like us all, they are human and sometimes misinterpret rules or miss calls. By the way, the NCOA is always looking for new blood. Because of growth in the area, the association struggles each season to supply enough football officials for all those freshmen, junior varsity and varsity games.

- Bill Paterson

December 8, 2006
Small schools and big-time players

Question: Has there ever been a Division I college football player from a Division V high school? What are the chances of this happening?

-John Groesser, New Hampshire

Answer: It's already happened. One of the most well known small-school players, Rashaan Salaam, played eight-man football at La Jolla Country Day School in Southern California and went on to earn the Heisman Trophy at the University of Colorado and play in the NFL with several teams, including the Chicago Bears. In the Sacramento area, I believe former NFL standout Jason Sehorn played football briefly at Capital Christian School. Another small-school program, Delta High in Clarksburg, produced several future college and NFL players, including Tony and Bo Eason.

- Bill Paterson

December 8, 2006
How good De La Salle and Grant?

Question: I have been watching Grant football for over 25 years, and this is one of the best defenses I have ever seen, period. They also played and beat a good Del Oro team, which could have beaten both Elk Grove and Vacaville. This team had special players at almost every position. Because of the Metro Conference schedule, some could not put up big numbers. And De La Salle is a special program. Grant's Onterrio Smith and DLS's D.J. Williams are good friends, and after we watched his DLS team beat Nevada Union big twice, it was a wake-up call for the both of us.

- Archie Jones, Sacramento

Answer: There is a lot of interest in seeing how this Grant team would stack up against this year's De La Salle group which, while very good, isn't like the juggernauts when Williams played. Of course, there are plenty of folks in the Bay Area who say it's time to move on because the Pacers, like the Miners before them, would be out-matched against their beloved Spartans. Too bad we will never know.

- Bill Paterson

December 7, 2006
Televising high school football

Question: Why aren't more high school football games aired on television?

- Rahn Shepard, Elk Grove

Answer: Locally, the issue comes down advertising support and rights fees in a market that is still in its infancy. Comcast SportsNet broadcast several games on a trial basis involving local schools this fall, but the Sac-Joaquin Section, which oversees prep sports in our area, wants to start charging a rights fee for games on TV similar to one the CIF Southern Section currently has for about $50,000 a year. "Schools should get something for their product," says Sac-Joaquin Section assistant commissioner John Williams. Comcast Vice President Larry Eldridge told The Bee's Quwan Spears earlier this fall that his company wasn't making money on games, which cost between $4,000 and $20,000 to broadcast. "Schools are getting equivalent to a 2 1/2-hour informercial to showcase their facility, school, coaches and athletes," Eldridge said. Stay tuned: A television contract proposal, which might involve the California Interscholastic Federation's five Northern California sections, may be voted on at the Sac-Joaquin Section's January meeting.

- Bill Paterson

December 7, 2006
Where's the hoops?

Question: Natomas High School senior forward Justin Baker, at 6-foot-7, and 230 pounds, coming off two 20-point performances, just put up 21 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks in a win against Sheldon High. Why no press coverage? The Natomas Nighthawks are poised to do quite well this year; however, not much has been written about the team, the players or the program?

- Lamar Baker, Sacramento

Answer: Check out Friday's pull-out section in The Bee's sports section devoted to boys and girls basketball. Because of staff and space limitations, we can't "cover" all the games involving the more than 160 boys and girls basketball teams within our circulation area. We will try to highlight key games and important tournaments, but our emphasis remains on big-picture stories involving the preps. As always, we will continue to highlight team and indivdiual accomplishments on our Tuesday PrepsPlus page and in weekly notebooks devoted to specific sports. We also publish the results of games called into us nightly on the Scoreboard page.

- 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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