October 24, 2007
But can Rocklin beat Del Oro?

Question: Do you think that Rocklin is going to beat Del Oro this Friday in a match-up of unbeaten teams?

-Zack Faren, Rocklin

Answer: Everything would seem to point in the Thunder's favor. They have played well in beating Granite Bay and Oakmont while the top-ranked Golden Eagles have struggled against Roseville and winless Woodcreek. Carrying a 24-game league winning streak into the match-up of neighboring rivals also is a double-edged sword for the Golden Eagles, who must play in Rocklin. It's going to be close, probably just like the D-II title game of 2005, but I'll stick with the Golden Eagles and pick them to win by three points.

- Bill Paterson

October 24, 2007
Can Del Oro win it all?

Question: I've certainly read a lot about Del Oro's football prowess this year in The Bee and its march toward the D2 state playoffs. If the cards fall right and the Golden Eagles make it to the state playoffs there is a distinct possibility they might play Southern California power Mater Dei of Santa Ana. What do you think of Del Oro's chances? I think Del Oro would get a real quick dose of reality.

- Doug Vessey, Rocklin

Answer: That's why they play the games. Last year, everyone was raving about how great Oaks Christian was with all their D-I talent and the powerhouse was lucky to beat Cardinal Newman in overtime in the D-III finale. The same with De La Salle. A lot of people said that Canyon Country didn't even deserve to be the Southern California D-I representative, and that school beat up on what was supposed to be one of the best teams in the country.

- Bill Paterson

October 23, 2007
Should Vacaville be No. 1?

Question: Why is Vacaville ranked No. 2 behind Del Oro in your top 20? Vacaville won the section championship in D-1 last year and is 7-0 this year, without a close game whereas Del Oro has had a couple of close calls, including against 0-7 Woodcreek last week. I was at the D-I section title game last year and when the Bulldogs played Elk Grove for the North section title. They are bigger and faster this year. And Maxpreps and Cal-Hi have the Bulldogs ranked higher in the state ratings.

- Josh Haskins, Elk Grove

Answer: We have four sportswriters who vote in the poll and one already has defected to Vacaville. I have continued to vote Del Oro No. 1 because I feel the Golden Eagles played the more challenging preseason schedule (road wins over Kennedy of Washington state, against D-III power Cardinal Newman and Nevada Union) and I also believe that the Sierra Foothill League is significantly better overall than the Monticello Empire League. And while the Bulldogs appear to be every bit as good if not better than last year, I thought they graduated some pretty talented linemen, including Clayton Jack who was our Bee Male Athlete of the Year. That's why I started them at No. 2 in my poll and have kept them there. As for the polls, I think there is a little built in favoritism by maxpreps and Cal-Hi for D-I schools. I'd like to see the issue settled on the football field, which could very well happen this Friday. If Del Oro beats No. 6 Rocklin, then the Golden Eagles have every right to remain No. 1. But if Del Oro falters and Vacaville beats No. 7 Napa, then the Bulldogs will get my vote.

- Bill Paterson

October 19, 2007
How about small school poll?

Question: The weekly football poll blog has a few dozen small-school fans calling for three seperate divisional polls. So rather than read about it from all the armchair bloggers, why not answer it once and for all and tell us why you don't do it now.

- Carlos, Sacramento

Answer: While there might be some merit in the future of doing a small-school poll in addition to our Top 20, there aren't enough area teams to warrant large, medium and small school polls. Then you are really watering things down. We are of the opinion that having one poll has the most impact and the most appeal to our readers. While it is tough for small schools to get into our top 20, it's not impossible. D-IV Colfax is a regular in the weekly poll and D-IV Whitney also has been represented in recent weeks. D-VI Capital Christian was a Top-20 team earlier in the season and probably would still be in there if it hadn't lost to Golden Sierra.

- Bill Paterson

October 19, 2007
Franklin vs. Saco

You can accuse Franklin High School football of many things this fall, but boring?

Not a chance.

The Yellowjackets of Stockton, and particularly coach Tom Verner, are chin-strap deep in controversy, all well chronicled in The Bee in recent weeks. Undue influence, illegal recruiting, cries of racism, finger pointing.

As it stands now, early Friday afternoon, Franklin is in deep trouble but still putting up a whale of a fight. The Sac-Joaquin Section levied serious sanctions on the program: 19 forfeited victories over recent seasons, including five this season entering tonight's action against Chavez. There's also a 5-year playoff ban.

But Verner can't stand to lose in anything. He's hired a lawyer to fight the accusations laid forth by the section, never mind the mountain of overwhelming evidence. He's promised to shell out any number of dollars - his own - to soldier on. He wants due process, his day in court.

Now the next whopper: And as of this afternoon, Verner plans to play the three players on his roster that were deemed ineligible, the three seniors from America Samoa. That's an unprecedented move - anywhere, any era.

"I don't think anyone in the country has ever thumbed their nose at the governing body of high school sports like that," said Mark Tennis of Cal-Hi Sports, a prep guru of sorts for more than 30 years. "Knowingly sending your players out there is a violation, too. It's hard to believe. I would hope at some point, someone says, 'Stop. What's the point?"'

Tennis said Franklin, if it continues to push the envelope, could "get kicked out of the CIF - the entire school."

"There are expulsion rules, too, where the CIF says, 'You are no longer a member,"' Tennis said. "I don't know how far Franklin is willing to take it. They've decided to take on the CIF. It's crazy."

- Joe Davidson

October 19, 2007
Can Grant bounce back?

Question: I know that Grant struggled in the first three games this season. But do you think the Pacers will go all the way this year? I hear that they have two very good running backs and a lot of talented players.
- Keith Brent, Sacramento

Answer: The Pacers have more than enough talent to repeat as the section champions, and the one-two punch of running backs Marselius Williams and Melvin Murphy will be a challenge for even the section's best D-II teams to try to bottle up. But the Pacers will need to continue to improve defensively. While they have made some improvements in their defensive line, their pass defense remains suspect, one reason I think Del Oro has a shot to beat them if the two teams meet in the postseason.

-Bill Paterson

October 19, 2007
How about that Thunder?

Question: What did you think about the 33-0 blowout that Rocklin laid on Granite Bay last Friday night?
-Travis Field, Rocklin

Answer: Pretty darn impressive since it was the league opener and at Granite Bay on the Grizzlies' homecoming night. And I don't know if a Granite Bay team has ever suffered such a one-sided defeat. I think a lot of us had underestimated the Thunder - at least until Friday.
- Bill Paterson

October 19, 2007
What about Golden Sierra

Question: Golden Sierra is playing great football. Why don't we get any game coverage? We have several MVPs and three-year varsity players. It would be nice to see some of our hard work represented in the paper.
- Matt Akers, Cool

Answer: No doubt the Golden Eagles are playing some excellent football, and I'm certain we will be catching up with them soon. We also welcome any stats, highlights, etc. about the Grizzlies by calling us on Friday nights at (916) 441-4100.
- Bill Paterson

October 19, 2007
Inderkum the one to beat

Question: Tonight's (Aug. 19) Valley vs. Inderkum football game is said to be the "league championship game." Do you think this is a fair statement.

- Joe Smith, Yuba City

Answer: I think any Tri-County Conference game involving Inderkum will be for the league title. The Tigers are the team to beat.

- Bill Paterson

October 18, 2007
Starting with Grant...

Question: How many minutes on average has Grant football coach Mike Alberghini played his starters in Metro Conference games so far this season in outscoring league opponents Rosemont, Sacramento and Kennedy 192 to 12?

-- Robert Hale

Answer: I can only speak to the Sac High game that I covered and in which the Pacers won 55-12. It appeared to me that coach Alberghini used a lot of different players in the second half and his top running back, Marselius Williams, carried only three times in the final two quarters. His other back, Melvin Murphy, had six second-half carries but Alberghini said he was trying to get him some extra work because it was only his second game back after an injury. Reserve backs carried nine times in the second half and the quarterback, who played the whole game, threw just twice for one completion of 12 yards. Unfortunately, Grant has so much talent that even against a fairly solid team like the Dragons, they are impossible to contain. Let's face it, Alberghini is in a no-win situation in the Metro, where he'd be the first to tell you the Pacers don't belong.

-- Bill Paterson

October 9, 2007
River Valley's playoff outlook

Question: As a student and former football player at River Valley High School who was unable to play because of injuries, I am proud that the team has started 5-0. What is your take on River Valley winning the Tri-County Conference title and making a Cinderilla run through the D-III section playoffs?

Sam Haggard, Yuba City

Answer: I think Inderkum is the team to beat for the title in the TCC, but the race for the No. 2 and No. 3 playoff spots should be wide open among River Valley, Yuba City, Woodland and Pioneer. River Valley would need a lot to roll its way to unseat the likes of Del Campo, Rodriguez, Casa Roble and Inderkum expected to be in the postseason mix.

- Bill Paterson

October 9, 2007
Nobody said it was fair

Question: Voting for player of the week seems quite unfortunate due to the fact that by simply looking at all the players up for the award, the one that clearly stands out is Mike Bush from Lindhurst. The winner should be about performances, not simply about how many teachers, parents and students can log on to vote for their team's player. Just something to think about.

Scott Albertson, Loma Linda

Answer: The poll is meant to be a fun, interactive thing for readers. You are right, a school can stuff the ballot, and it probably will turn into a popularity contest, but some would argue that is the point. These performances in themselves are subjective. While Mike Bush had an excellent game, I disagree with you that his clearly stands out from the others, especially coming against a winless team. My vote would go to Terrance Dailey of Vacaville (who has only 2 percent of the vote right now). He rushed for 219 yards, set a school rushing record and had five touchdowns against a team that came into the game 4-0. Next I'd probably go with Whitney's Zack Graves, who had 253 yards and a couple of touchdowns against a solid Bear River team that is renowned for its run defense. But it looks as if neither is going to be this week's selection.

- Bill Paterson

October 9, 2007
Rankings are subjective

Question: While reading The Bee today (Oct. 6) I was astonished to see Colfax ranked higher (No. 12) than the team they lost to Sept. 28, Whitney (No. 15). Please explain to me how an undefeated team can be ranked below a team they beat the week prior.

Tom O'Brien

Answer: Four sportswriters vote in the poll weekly, and we do so independently. So the placements can be very subjective. I ranked Whitney higher than Colfax last week (Whitney is No. 12 and Colfax No. 13 in this week's Bee poll) because of the Wildcats' upset win. But obviously some of my colleagues disagreed. It might have been some thought it wouldn't be right to jump a team that was unranked the week before ahead of a team that had been No. 8. Perhaps a writer or two gave Colfax the higher nod because they believed the Falcons have played the overall tougher schedule. Or perhaps they thought the weather conditions were a contributing factor and that the Falcons shouldn't be as heavily penalized for the loss. The fact that Whitney is in only its second varsity season and its first with seniors probably hurt the school initially as far as poll placement. Usually such teams don't start the year 5-0. But you can see the Wildcats are starting to find what appears to be their rightful place in the rankings.

- Bill Paterson

October 7, 2007
Interest, success dictate coverage

Question: How come you guys do more on Del Oro, Elk Grove and Grant football instead of Kennedy, Burbank and Johnson?

Felicia Fields-House, Sacramento

Answer: We have to follow the programs that spark the most reader interest and those are usually the most successful. Unfortunately, Metro Conference schools aren't drawing the followings or having the success of the past. But we don't ignore them. I covered the Kennedy-Florin football game (but not too many Cougar highlights in that one-sided game) Sept. 28 and the Burbank-Sac High football game Sept. 29.

- Bill Paterson

October 4, 2007
When effort isn't enough

You can't go to a high school event without hearing the complaints. Impossible.

Last Friday, Sheldon played rival Laguna Creek in a football game that had in the past gone down to the wire. The Cardinals were deeper, stronger and faster than Sheldon. A close first half turned into a Laguna Creek rout in the second half.

But parents didn't see it that way from the Sheldon side. Plenty bemoaned the play calling, the missed tackles, the dropped passes. They've become spoiled, the Sheldon following. Their behavior is proof. Effort isn't enough any more.

A year after winning a conference title, more was expected of the Huskies. Win one year and carry it over, please. That's the prevailing thought of fans, parents and boosters.

The coaches understand that. It's the players that they want to shield from the heat.

"I don't mind when parents get on me, but don't get on the kids," Sheldon coach Ed Lombardi said.

On Saturday, Jesuit played host to 3-0 Cordova in a meeting of ranked clubs. A close half turned into a Jesuit romp in the second half. And Cordova parents pounded on the referees and some of their own players as the game wore on, never mind that the Lancers fell to a better team. It left one Cordova player to peer into the stands, then look away. And then drop his head in shame.

- Joe Davidson

October 3, 2007
Vote or playoff?

Question: What are your thoughts about having Northern California football playoffs to determine the rightful state D-I, D-II and D-III representatives? I say playoffs in place of votes.

-Mannheim, Sacramento

Answer: I don't ever see taking voting completely out of the process because it would take too many weekends to have a pure NorCal playoff, unless schools were willing to play fewer regular-season games. Right now that isn't politically feasible because most sections value those 10 regular-season contacts, plus their lucrative section playoff formats. However, I can see the CIF eventually having a five division NorCal playoff leading into the state games, simply because there is a lot of money to be made from sponsorships and television. The five NorCal champions would play the five Southern California champions (two games on a Friday and three on Saturday) over two days alternating between Northern California and Southern California stadiums from year to year.
--Bill Paterson

October 3, 2007
Which team is best in Tri-County?

Question: What football teams will be the surprise in the Tri-County Conference this year? I know about Inderkum and Pioneer, but are there any other teams that may step up? I thought Yuba City would be good this year with all those returning players, but so far they are having trouble adjusting to the new offense under their new head coach. River Valley has won all their games so far this year, but I'm not sure how good the teams are that they have played. Can either team make it to the playoffs?

- Rusty Graham, Yuba City

Answer: I think both River Valley and Yuba City have excellent shots at earning a playoff berth. With its size, speed and experience, Inderkum is the clear favorite, so I'll be surprised if it don't win the league title. I also think that Natomas is still going to struggle. So that leaves the two Yuba City schools battling with Pioneer and Woodland for the two remaining TCC playoff spots. Yuba City had a somewhat challenging preseason schedule with Chico, Bear River and Bella Vista, but then drilled Dixon and should beat a rebuilding El Camino team on Friday. So I like the Honkers' chances. And River Valley beat a Rio Americano team that is supposed to be pretty decent this season. It's possible there could be real meaning to that Nov. 9 season-finale game between Yuba City and River Valley.
--Bill Paterson

October 2, 2007
What about Colfax?

Question: What do think about the Colfax Falcons this year? Seems like they have a strong defense and the two quarterbacks are going to do a good job, too.

- Grace Miller, Sanford, Fla.

Answer: Even with the upset loss to Whitney last Friday night, the Falcons' remain one of the area's top small-school programs. But making the D-IV playoffs this year will be a challenge even for these perennial playoff participants. The Falcons play in a very balanced Pioneer Valley League that includes Bear River, Lincoln, El Dorado and Placer in addition to Whitney. And this season only two teams from that league will make the postseason. The defense is a strong point with senior linebacker Colton Russi leading the way. We'll see how the two-headed quarterback system of Luke Cook and Spencer Lewis works out, but coach Tony Martello, who has won 117 games in 12 seasons, knows what he is doing.
- Bill Paterson

October 2, 2007
No love for Sutter?

Question: My wife was a teacher at Sutter High School. They have an excellent football program, so why doesn't The Bee cover Sutter games?

- Bryan Ammon, Nevada City

Answer: Because of the huge growth in our primary coverage area of the northern part of the Sac-Joaquin Section, that's where we have decided to focus our limited resources. We still take linescores, highlights, etc. from North Section schools when they volunteer the information by calling us at (916) 441-4100. Delta High of Clarksburg, a North Section school, is a regular Friday night football contributor. You might suggest to the Sutter Athletic Director that somone be assigned to call in Friday night game results.

- Bill Paterson

October 2, 2007
What about that soccer poll?

Question: What do you guys consider when ranking soccer teams? This question comes after seeing The Bee rank Rio Linda at No. 3 (Sept. 26). You guys have links to Maxpreps.com and I believe that is what you base your rankings on, then you would know that there are other teams out there that have played better teams and have a better overall record. There are teams on your top 15 with records of 4-3-2 ranked in the Top 10. Please let me know the reasons behind your rankings and if you are going to rank Rio Linda again that you look into their league because there are better teams than the Knights.

- Cory Clonce

Answer: There four area boys soccer programs - Davis, Jesuit, Granite Bay and Vintage - that are heads above the others. No other area teams have beaten these guys at this writing. So they are a great measuring stick for other programs. When an unsung team like Rio Linda goes to Jesuit and outplays the Marauders in earning a 1-1 draw, that's a big deal and that's why, along with a then unbeaten record, they received a No. 3 ranking last week. (The Knights will be No. 8 this week after losing their first match of the season, a 1-0 nonleague game against Rosemont). River City in the Capital Valley Conference may have a slightly better overall record than the Knights, but Rio Linda remains the team to beat based on the Jesuit performance and having won last year's league title. Of course, those two teams will settle the matter on the field when they meet Wednesday. By the way, there isn't a team with a losing record in our rankings. Some teams may lack the gaudy winning percentages of other teams but that's because they have played more challenging schedules.
- Bill Paterson

October 2, 2007
It's not FootballPlus...

Question: FOOTBALL FOOTBALL FOOTBALL...Why don't you call it "FootballPlus" instead of "PrepsPlus"? Don't get me wrong, I love football, but all 10 headlines in PrepsPlus are football stories, and you have three to four items in the "polls and links" section that are, guess what: football items. You've got some pretty darn good volleyball teams that are being ignored. PAY ATTENTION!
- Duane Arend, Elk Grove

Answer: We've gotten the message, and we will be working to diversify our on-line PrepsPlus section in the coming weeks. Look for some upcoming volleyball video, the girls volleyball poll on Thursday in The Bee and our upcoming Tuesday Preps Plus feature is scheduled to be on Christian Brothers volleyball/basketball player Brittany Woodard.

-- 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 jdavidson@sacbee.com or bpaterson@sacbee.com.

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