Here is a detailed look at the eliminated football teams of local note from the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs, with quick comments.
I lined them up in a fun, mock ranking order. After the playoffs, we will publish in The Bee and online the final Bee Top 20, with all teams. For now, dig into this. And again, we invite comments, observations.
1. Granite Bay (9-2)
The Grizzlies might have had a different run of success in the Division II playoffs had they not lost that heartbreaker in the Sierra Foothill League to Roseville 36-34, when coach Ernie Cooper went for two and lost (admire the guts, though.) Granite Bay instead drew Grant in an opener, a brutal chore that sure feels and looks like the D-II title game even now. The Grizzlies still won a share of the SFL and reached the playoffs yet again, thanks to leaders Teddy Bryant and Clark Partridge and a host of others.
2. Nevada Union (10-2)
The Miners had a terrific bounce-back season, from 3-7 to 10 wins, a share of the Delta Valley Conference title and an overall glimpse that NU is back for more in the coming seasons. The only losses were heartbreakers, 13-7 in the mud at Laguna Creek and 21-18 to Pleasant Grove in the D-I playoffs, despite trailing 21-0. Coach Dave Humphers blamed himself for the defeat, saying "it's my fault" for not calling different plays. He's wrong there. The comeback had Humphers fingerprints all over it. The coach also reminds that his freshman team and junior varsity teams went a combined 19-1. Miner Magic, as galling as it has been for foes to stomach over the years, is back. Get used to it.
3. Folsom (9-2)
It's a shame that we don't get to see David Graves any more. The senior quarterback had as dominant, as prolific and as exciting a one-man season as we've ever seen. He accounted for 51 total scores - 51! - in displaying incredible poise and skills. He's a real find as a recruit for Nevada. Coach Kris Richardson has a program in full upswing mode, with successful lower-level teams to help keep things rolling next fall. The only losses were tough defeats, by two to Pleasant Grove for the Delta River League title and by a hair at 9-1 Napa in a D-I opener.
4. Roseville (8-4)
The Tigers had a memorable season and one of the best in school history. The very well might be the best Roseville bunch since the Tedy Bruschi team of 1991. This season included the stirring win over Granite Bay to secure the No. 1 spot in the always brutal Sierra Foothill League. Mike Moreno was a fabulous talent at quarterback and punter, and Zack Davis was a burner worth watching. You just don't find coaches any more classy than Larry Cunha, either. Loss to Burbank in D-II semis will sting, however. Plenty of fuel for a title run next season.
5. Del Campo (9-3)
The Cougars were supposed to be in rebuilding mode. Uh, correction. Reloading a bit, yes. But quality programs don't really reload. They just gear up for another title push. Del Campo, when healthy, was a fine club, including downing Ponderosa and Pleasant Grove. Injuries hurt the Cougars, however. Last loss was to Inderkum 21-10, and there is no slouch losing to a team that was faster, better and favored. Coach Mike Dimino has a nice thing going, and that includes his talented son, Ryan, only a junior.
6. Woodcreek (6-6)
A year ago, the mere suggestion that the Timberwolves would be ranked was ludicrous. It's a real credit to the returning players and impressive young coach John Hilderbrand, whose club overcame a tough nonleague schedule and played Roseville to the wire for the Sierra Foothill League title. The loss to Grant in the D-II semis is nothing to hang their helmets over. Tradition and talent and depth overwhelmed a program just now getting used to all of that. Still, trailing 12-0 at the half in a game that wound up going to Grant 49-14 showed what kind of character and will Woodcreek has.
7. Christian Brothers (8-3)
The Falcons are on the cusp of a breakthrough, having shed years of sluggish play after so many up seasons in the 1960s, '79s and '80s and early '90s, a credit to the program coach Andre Johansen has built of late. Do-all super talent Josh Tucker had a banner season before going down to injury in the 20-10 D-II playoff loss to Burbank. Lineman Matt McCarthy is a big recruit as is linebacker Daniel Cox, two examples of a program doing just fine.
8. Rio Americano (8-3)
The Raiders basked in a nice bounce-back season after some lean times. Coach Mike Smith indicated last summer that his club had the makings of a playoff team despite residing in the brutally tough Capital Athletic League that included Casa Roble, Del Campo and Bella Vista. The veteran coach was right. With play-making quarterback Mardell Johnson leading the way, the Raiders were a tough assignment. Rio lost to Inderkum in the D-II playoffs but gained a lot in regional respect with another good team.
9. Bear River (8-3)
The Bruins made a run at the Pioneer Valley League and battled league champion and D-IV favorite Whitney for three quarters in an otherwise good season. Jason Varni and a host of others powered Bear River, but the suspensions at the end of the season that carried into the playoffs were the real downer. This program is too reputable and admired to have such nonsense happen. Live and learn.
10. Oak Ridge (5-6)
The overall record is a bit misleading for one of the storied programs in the section, with nonleague early losses to Casa Roble, Grant and Folsom, teams that are a combined 33-2, with Grant (12-0) and Casa Roble (12-0) preparing this week to play in the D-II and D-III section finals. Coach Eric Cavaliere still led his team to a Sierra Valley Conference championship before falling to upstart Woodcreek in a D-II opener. Standout do-all talent Brett Thompson is among the section's top recruits, headed for BYU on scholarship.