September 30, 2009
No. 6 Oak Ridge beats No. 7 Nevada Union in possible playoff preview

Neither team walked out of the gym with much to cheer about on Wednesday night, but sixth-ranked Oak Ridge claimed a four-set victory over No. 7 Nevada Union (25-20, 25-23, 23-25, 25-19).

With Oak Ridge (13-4) -- last year's Division II Sac Joaquin Section champion -- moving up to Division I this season, the match-up with the reigning seven-time D-I champion Miners many looked at Wednesday as a possible Section semifinal or championship preview.

"Right now I'd have to give the advantage to them," Miners coach Bob Rogers said. "Hopefully we'll be better by (playoff) time."

Oak Ridge controlled much of the first set, building a 20-10 lead at one point. Nevada Union made a game of it though, clawing back to within 23-19 behind the powerful right arm of junior outside hitter Ellie Selleck who finished tied for a match-high 20 kills. Oak Ridge slammed the door shut with its own stud outside hitter though as senior Kayla Berringer -- who also had 20 kills -- notched set point.

The Trojans found themselves down big in the second set as an Abbie Miraldi kill put Nevada Union (17-4) up 20-14. From there Oak Ridge closed the match on an 11-3 run, getting three kills from Berringer, two from Katie Vaughn and one from Hayley Simmons.

"That gives us hope," Oak Ridge coach Becky Potter said. "We keep seeing the potential of what we're capable of."

The Miners also committed unforced errors on the final three points of the set, part of 30 overall.

"We're young and we're working on consistency," Rogers said. "Every time we got a lead it seemed like we'd miss a serve or whack a ball out of bounds."

Miraldi and Selleck starred in the third set, combining for 12 kills including a Selleck smash for set point. The duo feasted for much of the night on Oak Ridge's ineffective block on the left side.

The Miners jumped out to a 10-6 lead in the fourth set but saw it evaporate quickly as they committed three more errors bookended by Berringer kills as Oak Ridge claimed a 12-10 lead it would not surrender. The Miners got as close as 19-18 but managed just a Miraldi kill between that and the finish as Lena Buckendorf put the exclamation point on the win with back-to-back kills to end the match.

Nevada Union's Taryn Salcedo led all players with 43 assists while Oak Ridge's Brittney Larsen had 29. Vaughn led Oak Ridge with 20 digs.

September 30, 2009
Ryan hopes Placer loss will be learning experience for his Rams

Casa Roble's seniors have known nothing but winning for nearly four years.

They won their last two games as freshmen, went 10-0 as sophomores on the JV team and were 13-0 and Sac-Joaquin Section Division III champions last season as juniors.

The streak grew to 27, including 15 at the varsity level when they beat Woodcreek in Week One and Vista del Lago in Week Two.

So when the No. 12 Rams lost 31-30 Friday to No. 11 Placer in an entertaining down-to-the-wire finish, it was a shock.

Casa Roble varsity football players just don't expect to lose.

But if the Rams had to lose, coach Norm Ryan figures he'll take it now rather than later.

Until last season, when the Rams beat Inderkum in overtime for the D-III title, the Rams have had nothing but playoff heartache.

There was the 10-0 regular-season team in Ryan's first season that lost 13-12 to Del Oro on Chris Thrall's last-minute 48-yard field goal in the opening round of the D-II playoffs. There was another 10-0 bunch that fell to Rodriguez 29-7 in the D-III first round in 2007.

"We hear it in practice among the players about how long they can keep this streak going," Ryan said before Friday's loss. "But as coaches, although we don't like to lose, we know we can learn from a loss."

The Rams hope to start a new streak on Friday when dangerous Oak Ridge (0-3) comes to Orangevale. Then No. 7 Folsom (3-0) comes to town the following week, the last preseason game before league.

Look for the Rams to get back to the shut-down, smashmouth defense they played in holding Woodcreek and Vista del Lago to one touchdown apiece.

As expected, Placer's Wing-T gave the Rams problems, but probably more than even Ryan likely anticipated. The Hillmen moved the chains in rushing for 330 yards and passing for 71 more.

Prime examples:

• A 15-play, 81-yard drive in the first quarter capped by Josh Turney's one-yard touchdown.

• A 12-play drive that led to a 39-yard field goal by Cameron Southward in the second quarter.

• A 12-play, 75-yard drive capped by Asher Gotzmer's 11-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

In the end, though, it was Casa's offense that made the most costly mistake.

After Casa Roble's Dylan Rice stopped another promising Placer drive with an interception deep in Rams' territory in the fourth quarter, Casa's offense gave the ball right back on the next play, setting up Turney's two-yard touchdown, Southward's PAT and a 31-24 Hillmen lead with 4:24 to play.

Still, the Rams responded with a winner's mentality.

They took the ball 75 yards, largely on the guts and determination of running back Anthony Santiago, a fun player to watch.

They scored on Santiago's one-yard plunge to move within a one with 1:06 to play, then barely missed on the gutsy two-point conversion pass attempt that was just beyond Scott Patalano's reach.

Keep an eye on the Rams. They are still in the D-III title chase.

September 30, 2009
NorCal football rankings have familiar look

Here's a look at the Cal-Hi Sports-ESPN Northern California Top 15, and notice the local flavor that shows the Sacramento region is having another banner season.

The folks at Cal-Hi, specifically executive editor Mark Tennis, he of local ties, produce the longest-standing rankings with a superb reputation, unlike other sites. And it is these rankings from Tennis and company that have more impact and pull when it comes to State Bowl meetings, as it should. Tennis has indicated to me and others that should Grant, for example, keep on rolling, it has an excellent chance to return to the CIF Open Division Bowl game, but beware of Granite Bay and Del Oro, too.

In our Bee Sac-Joaquin Section Top 10, we have in order: Grant, St. Mary's, Granite Bay, Del Oro, Lincoln, Pleasant Grove, Central Catholic, as does Cal-Hi here in these NorCal rankings among regional teams. We see eye-to-eye on this, but if you really want to get confused. check out Maxpreps section and/or state rankings.

Cal-Hi Sports-ESPN Northern California Top 15
1. (1) Grant (Sacramento) 4-0
2. (2) De La Salle (Concord) 1-2
3. (3) Monte Vista (Danville) 3-0
4. (4) St. Mary's (Stockton) 3-0
5. (5) Granite Bay 3-0
6. (6) Serra (San Mateo) 2-1
7. (7) Foothill (Pleasanton) 3-0
8. (8) Del Oro (Loomis) 3-0
9. (10) Lincoln (Stockton) 3-0
10. (11) Pleasant Grove (Elk Grove) 2-1
11. (13) Central Catholic (Modesto) 3-0
12. (14) Palma (Salinas) 2-1
13. (15) St. Francis (Mountain View) 3-1
14. (NR) Milpitas 3-0
15. (NR) Berkeley 3-0

September 27, 2009
The Bee's latest Sac-Joaquin Section Top 10 football rankings

Week 4 is here and the rankings are starting to take shape.
Granite Bay beat previous Sac-Joaquin Section No. 6 Vacaville 31-13 to open a spot in the Top 10 for Folsom, which scores about every other minute. Like now. It just got into the endzone again.
Dig in with comments, but please, enough nonsense about how teams finished last year or did in summer scrimmages. It's about now, folks. And by all means, let's see your Top 10s.

1. Grant (4-0)
The Pacers beat Oak Ridge 14-0 and one can come to a lot of conclusions here. Foremost is it's no real surprise that there was a letdown in terms of any outrageous scoring anticipation against a Trojans team that could not contain Rocklin and Folsom in losses, as Grant is coming off the inspired 14-0 win at Bellevue on Saturday. Is Grant collectively disappointed with the offense? Absolutely. Is Grant suddenly over-rated? Absolutely not. There is far too much speed and skill not to be doing more on offense, yes, but that will come in time. The burden is on RB Devontae Butler and QB Glenn Deary to get the offense on track, and both scored on runs to beat Oak Ridge, Butler on a short run and Deary on a beauty of a 55-yarder. Then there's the Pacers D - the best in the state with four shutout efforts so far. Teams win championships when the defense yields nothing. Next is the Metro opener at Johnson on Saturday.

2. St. Mary's (3-0)
The Rams of Stockton led a very solid Los Banos team 32-0 at the half and prevailed 39-7. Marcus McDade had two touchdown passes as he hit four receivers for 192 yards. Maurice Howze rushed for 96 yards and Josh Harper had a 74-yard punt return for a score. Cal could have used him Saturday in Eugene. The Bears will have to wait for their gem recruit. George Mafi, Steven Patterson and Munro Meyers combined for 35 tackles. Next is a major tilt against Lincoln for regional leverage and a gauge game of who owns Stockton.

3. Granite Bay (3-0)
The first play of the game showed just how explosive and talented RB Devaunte Bolton is for the Grizzlies as he took off for a 78-yard touchdown on a trap play. And he iced it late with a touchdown just as long in a very impressive road win over previous Bee Section No. 5 Vacaville 31-13. Bolton had 180 yards rushing and could be the most talented tailback recruit coach Ernie Cooper has had. Brandan Keeney hit Tanner Holt and Clay Sears for touchdowns. Sears played big in place of Ian Rhodes, who was ill. Most impressive was the Grizzlies defense that held a Bulldogs team that had erupted for 58 and 57 points in a sizzling 2-0 start. Next is 4-0 Point Loma of San Diego, a SoCal power and yet another great test.

4. Del Oro (3-0)
The Golden Eagles are setting a standard that will be impossible to maintain, but what's a championship drive without high hopes? In this case, Del Oro is averaging a 28-0 start in each of its last two first quarters, using those quick efforts to drill Cardinal Newman in Week 3 and then Franklin of Elk Grove on Friday to kickstart a 62-12 rout. It might have been the most impressive first half for any Del Oro team in history, and we're talking rich history here as the Golden Eagles are celebrating 50 years of the high life. This includes 24 league championships - six this decade - and six Sac-Joaquin Section championships and a few additional near miss title teams. Del Oro led 56-6 at the half, and this was not Franklin of Stockton, the crippled program of recent seasons. This was Franklin of Elk Grove, off to a 2-0 start, ranked No. 12 in The Bee's regional Top 20 and sporting speed, size and momentum. Not here, though. Bryce Pratt scored two early touchdowns on the ground, Max Magleby completed 11 of 12 passes for 189 yards and five touchdowns, Freddie Cargile dazzled by catching two scoring passes, throwing one and returning an interception for another. By early in the third, the starters gave way to the inspired reserves, and the defense was superb throughout, headed by linebacker captain Blake Landry. Next is always dangerous Merced, which beat Del Oro late last season.

5. Lincoln-Stockton (3-0)
The Trojans finally had a game in hand in the final moments after sweating out early wins against Pleasant Grove and Edison. Lincoln withstood the power of Fremont-Oakland's Sione Tupouata, a 250-pound bruiser back who had 142 yards in a 37-13 victory. The difference was depth, Brandon Gildea's four-touchdown passing performance and big plays from Brandin Cooks, who soared above two defenders for a 23-yard touchdown reception, and Jamal Campbell, who scored on an 80-yard punt return (he did similar damage to Pleasant Grove). And most impressive: The Trojans did all this without top player in RB/LB Phillip Ruhl, who sat with a broken wrist. Next is the true gauge game of the season, against visiting St. Mary's, which edged the Trojans in the playoffs last season enroute to winning the section Division I championship.

6. Pleasant Grove (2-1)
The Eagles have impressed since letting a season-opening lead against Lincoln-Stockton slip away in a 29-28 loss, battering Roseville and now Laguna Creek 48-7 in a City Championship rematch. Taylor Congdon has been terrific since his return from a knee injury that cost him the second half of last season. He fired four more touchdowns in Week 3, including three to favorite target Jalen Saunders, all in the first half as the Fresno State-bound talent had three grabs for 117 yards. Saunders also rushed for a score as the offensive line was strong, including Arik Armstead, fit and frisky after being slowed in the opener with a strained knee. Next is struggling Elk Grove in a real danger game as the Thundering Herd is eager to regroup. A year ago, Saunders went down in this game with a concussion as the Herd went on to win.

7. Central Catholic (3-0)
One thing about the Raiders of Modesto: They pounce on opportunity. That was the case in turning the game against Cardinal Newman and it was again in downing host Vista del Lago 21-13. Vista turnovers set up two Central touchdowns. Vista had the ball inside the Central 26 three times in the second half but was denied each time, scoring no points. Dylan Swartz hit Jack Killian for a 56-yard touchdown and Billy Flamion and Darien Edwards scored on runs of 23 and 10 yards for Central. A troubling factor for Central was losing four fumbles. Next is a home game against large-school Johansen.

8. Del Campo (3-0)
The Cougars are not a one-man gang, not with all sorts of talent on both sides of the ball, including Eddie Plantaric, Jaron Wilson and Orlando Ortiz. But the main man is QB Ryan Dimino, who devoured another defense with 296 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns in a 31-14 victory over Ponderosa, a team that started the season in the Top 10 and has since been spinning. Next is Woodcreek and one of the top backs in the section in James Nunley, who had 296 yards rushing and four scores against Bear River. If the defense wanted a tailback challenge, it's here.

9. Inderkum (3-0)
The Tigers had a bye, meaning they didn't erupt on someone for 50 points. Antonio Bumpers is the leading rusher for Inderkum, averaging 120 yards, and has seven touchdowns. Devin Hartley, as fast as they come, and he averages 117 yards a game. The Tigers average nearly 400 yards rushing out of the wing-T under coach Terry Stark, with a passing threat in Demetrius Williams, who has four touchdowns. Next is Rio Americano.

10. Folsom (3-0)
The Bulldogs blast into the Section Top 10 on the strength of an outrageous spread offense that features dynamic junior skill leaders in QB Dano Graves and Tyler Trosin and an offensive line that provides protection for big plays. Graves is the younger brother of 2008 Bee Player of the Year David Graves, and kid brother is off to a rousing start with 771 yards in three games with 16 touchdowns and just one interception. He's also a running threat, averaging 70 yards a game. The receivers are terrific in Trosin, Kori Babineaux and Jordan Richards. Coach Kris Richardson raves about his team's talent and spirit, and he loves to unleash Trosin, who scores on offense and special teams and makes plays on defense. Next is a test at Franklin, still smarting from that beatdown loss at Del Oro.

On the bubble: Vacaville (2-1); Rocklin (3-0); Oakdale (3-0); Tracy (3-0); Nevada Union (2-1).

September 27, 2009
A look at the Prep football Week 4 schedule

Week 4 of the prep football schedule, and it's supposed to be more like football weather. No more of this Death Valley-like heat.
All games start at 7:15 or 7:30.

Thursday
Capital Valley Conference
West Campus vs. Foothill at Rosemont

Friday
Capital Valley Conference
Rio Linda at Center

Golden Empire League
Golden Sierra at Marysville
Lindhurst at Highlands
San Juan at Capital Christian

Metro League
Sacramento at Rosemont

Pioneer Valley League
Colfax at Bear River
Mesa Verde at Placer
Whitney at Lincoln

Sierra Valley Conference
Christian Brothers at Union Mine
Cordova at Ponderosa
Galt vs. Vista del Lago at Folsom

Nonleague
Antelope at Bella Vista
Brookside Christian at Delta
Davis at Pioneer
Del Campo at Woodcreek
Encina at El Dorado
Florin at Armijo
Franklin vs. Folsom at Cosumnes Oaks
Laguna Creek vs. Sheldon at Elk Grove
Merced at Del Oro
Mira Loma at River City
Modesto vs. Jesuit at Modesto Junior College
Natomas at Nevada Union
Oak Ridge at Casa Roble
Pleasant Grove vs. Elk Grove at Sheldon
Roseville at Woodland
Valley at Monterey Trail
Vanden at Dixon
Antioch at Oakmont
Point Loma at Granite Bay
River Valley at Wheatland
Skyline at Rocklin
Yuba City at Sutter

Saturday

Metro League
Games at 1 p.m. unless noted
Grant at Johnson
Kennedy at McClatchy

Sacramento Metro
Vacaville Christian at Woodland Christian
Valley Christian vs. Bradshaw Christian at Highlands

Nonleague
Inderkum at Rio Americano, 1 p.m.
El Camino at Cosumnes Oaks, 7:30pm
Millennium vs. Cristo Rey at West, 7 p.m.

September 27, 2009
Christian Brothers' Holy Bowl win may be harbinger of more to come

It was a rough evening last night for Jesuit and their classy veteran coach Dan Carmazzi.

Although the No. 20 Marauders (1-2) didn't put up much of a fight in falling 21-6 to No. 19 Christian Brothers (2-1) in the annual Holy Bowl at Hughes Stadium, it ultimately is good for the rivalry.

The crowds have clearly increased since coach Andre Johansen took the Falcons' reins five years ago and made the game relevant again.

For a long time, the games were one-sided yawners dominated by Jesuit, including 42-7 in 2003 and 55-7 in 2004.

The Falcons did win 14-13 in 2001, their first victory in the 40-year event since 1992.
There also was a 19-19 tie in 2005 - Johansen's first season - and the Falcons' two heart-wrenching losses 32-29 in 2006 and 20-19 last season.

Saturday, after the Falcons decisively won over their bitter rivals, CBS fans stormed the field in a cathartic response to all those years of frustration.

The question now: Will the Falcons be able to sustain the momentum?

Johansen thinks so.

The CBS program is going in the right direction. The Falcons made the playoffs three of the last four years, and he thinks this season's bunch may be his best.

"These are the first kids we have had go through the program since they were freshmen," Johansen said. "Thanks to our off-season weight-training program, we're stronger and more athletic. This is one of the best offensive lines we've had, and we've got more talented skill players. We also have more depth."

Fielding a consistent winner has increased the number of players at the lower levels. He said going 7-2-1 in his first season was huge.

"We tied Jesuit, and we made the playoffs," Johansen said. "When you have some success, you can get the kids to believe in what you are doing. If you struggle for a while, kids lose interest and buy out."

Another key, Johansen said, was starting a neighborhood feeder Junior Falcons program three years ago. That's almost a must to stay competitive these days.

"A lot of these kids are at or below the poverty level," Johansen said. "The goal is to see how many we can get into our program.

"We feel if we can get a hold of them early and work with them to get them qualified academically, it's a win, win."

September 26, 2009
Christian Brothers leads Jesuit 7-0 at halftime of Holy Bowl

No. 19 Christian Brothers has dominated the first half of tonight's Holy Bowl in taking a 6-0 halftime lead over No. 20 Jesuit.

CBS outgained Jesuit in total yardage 214 to 34.

The Falcons scored on their first series. They went 56 yards in 10 plays, with quarterback Michael Lahey scoring on a four-yard run.

There may be more than 16,000 watching this traditional event.

September 26, 2009
40th annual Holy Bowl is about getting ready to kickoff

It's the 40th Holy Bowl tonight between Christian Brothers and Jesuit and Hughes Stadium is rapidly filling up.

Nearly 8,000 already here for the just concluded junior varsity game, won by Jesuit 35-20.

Cars are backed up outside the stadium waiting to get in for one of high school football's biggest events of the year.

It's 7:08 p.m. Kickoff is about 15 minutes away.

September 26, 2009
Despite a wave of flags, Placer-Casa football game is a gem

Even the officials couldn't ruin the football donnybrook between No. 9 Casa Roble and No. 14 Placer Friday night in Orangevale.

Placer (3-0) prevailed 31-30 to end the defending Sac-Joaquin Section Division III champion's 15-game win streak.

It was a gem of a three-hour game even though the referees penalized what are recognized as two of the area's better coached teams 29 times for 260 yards.

Casa Roble closed to within one point, 31-30, with one minute, six seconds to play on a one-yard plunge by hard-charging senior running back Anthony Santiago. It capped a 75-yard, 10-play drive.

In a bold move, Casa Roble coach Norm Ryan elected to go for the win instead of the tie and possible overtime, but quarterback Justin Tann's fade pass was a little high and beyond Scott Patalano's reach in the back corner of the end zone.

Placer had broken a 24-24 tie when Josh Turney scored on a two-yard plunge with 4:21 to play, and Cameron Southward added what would prove to be the game-winning PAT. The touchdown was set up by Michael Gray's fumble recovery at the Rams' two-yard line.

That fumble came one play after Casa Roble's Dylan Rice ended what appeared to be a promising Hillmen drive by intercepting Colin Burnett's pass at the Rams' eight-yard line.

Placer's Wing-T offense moved the ball well on a Rams' defense that had allowed only 13 points in wins over Woodcreek and Vista del Lago in their first two games.

Asher Gotzmer rushed for 147 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries; Dalton Dyer added 124 yards on 13 carries and Turney had 60 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. Southward added a 39-yard field goal.

Santiago was the game's star, however.

He rushed for 202 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries. Tann, who scored on a one-yard run, was 12 of 26 for 127 yards passing but also was intercepted twice by Southward.

Casa Roble junior Houston Wilfley returned a fumble 62 yards for a touchdown early in the first quarter after wrestling the ball out of Gotzmer's hands during on a handoff from Burnett.

The loss not only ended a 15-game varsity win streak for the Rams, it ended a 27-game victory streak for a senior class that last lost during their freshmen season.

Placer was penalized 18 times for 155 yards, including an unsportsmanlike conduct call on an obviously frustrated Joey Montoya, the Placer coach.

Casa Roble was flagged 11 times for 105 yards.

September 25, 2009
Prep football chat with you, the readers, today at 3 p.m.

Today's your chance to pepper us with questions on high school football.
Themes, trends, rankings, good teams, great players, dying programs - you name it, we'll chat about it. Realignment, the CIF bowl picture, enrollment, private school impact, the economy in prep sports, Grant's greatness, it's all on the table.
Join Bill Paterson and me today at 3 p.m.
To see our live chat, go to sacbee.com/live

September 25, 2009
Dragons' Cosbie thinks Folsom's explosive offense is real deal

Folsom hasn't played in a Sac-Joaquin Section football championship game since 1990.

But Sacramento High coach Doug Cosbie thinks the Bulldogs could be wearing shoulder pads when the section championship games come around in December.

"They've definitely got a shot with that offense," Cosbie said after the No. 7 Bulldogs belted his team 69-26 Thursday night at Folsom.

"Their offense is really good," Cosbie added. "The receivers run great routes, the quarterback puts the ball on the money, and they have great schemes."

The Bulldogs' spread offense seems to get more explosive by the week in averaging nearly 55 points a game.

In Week One, Folsom beat Davis 41-21 as junior quarterback Dano Graves threw five touchdowns - all in the first half. Last week, Graves had another five-touchdown performance in toppling neighboring rival Oak Ridge 54-33.

He and the Bulldogs topped those efforts in scoring 10 touchdowns against a fast but befuddled Dragons team that came into the game confident after a 2-0 start.

Graves threw six touchdown passes and also ran for a 52-yard score. He completed 16 of 19 passes for 233 yards.

His 16 touchdowns puts him well ahead of the pace set last season by older brother David, now at Hawaii. David, The Bee Player of the Year, threw 40 touchdowns in 11 games.

Dano has completed 47 of 59 passes for 776 yards, though Sac High did intercept his first pass of the season late in the second quarter.

But Graves showed speed and determination on the play in knocking the speedy Geneis Grimes out of bounds at midfield. Grimes had picked off Graves pass at the Dragons' one and appeared to have a clear lane along the left sideline for a 99-yard touchdown.

That was the only possession among nine in which Folsom didn't score while on Graves' watch. He threw three touchdown passes to Tyler Trosin, two to Kori Babineaux and one to Jordan Richards before giving way to back-up Jeff Butkus in the third quarter.

Trosin, a junior, also had an 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and was the toughest player for Sac High defenders to tackle.

"I really feel he's the best player in the (area)," said Folsom coach Kris Richardson said. "He's a great free safety, and an outstanding receiver and kick returner. But as good as he is in all those areas, he's also the best blocking receiver we've had."

Richardson said that the offensive line of seniors Mike Metildi (6-0, 210 pounds) and Gage Steele (6-0, 215) - how's that for a football name - and juniors Stephen Sippel (6-3, 225), Tucker Kearney (6-2, 220) and Chris Page (6-1, 250) hasn't allowed a sack in three games.

"They're not particularly big, but they give Dano the time to set up back there and pick out the open targets," Richardson said.

Folsom never punted. Other than Graves' interception, the only other time the Dragons stopped Folsom was when they forced the Bulldogs' reserves to turn the ball over on downs on the team's last possession in the fourth quarter.

While its offense rates as one of the section's best, Folsom's defense is another story.

"They struggle a little bit on defense athletically sometimes," Cosbie said. "That's been the knock on them."

Although his team scored four touchdowns - two on plays of 50 yards or more - Cosbie felt the Bulldogs played better defense than he expected.

"We couldn't move the ball," Cosbie said. "Our offensive line had played well in the first two games, but not in this one. They struggled."

The Dragons turned the ball over four times, including two interceptions by defensive back Jordan Hampton.

"We had some individual kids who showed up, but collectively I was disappointed," Cosbie said. "I didn't think we competed that hard from the beginning."

Cosbie thinks the the Dragons, who beat Woodside and Florin in their first two games, will rebound next Friday at Rosemont in the Metro Conference opener for both teams.

Both have playoff aspirations.

"These kids are resilient," Cosbie said.

So is Folsom but it's unlikely the Bulldogs will be able to sustain their scoring average.

The Bulldogs play next Friday against a rejuvenated Franklin team at Cosumnes Oaks High School, then travel to Casa Roble Oct. 9.

Both have strong defensive squads.

"The next two weeks will tell us a lot," Richardson said. "This has been a nice way to build up to those games."

September 23, 2009
Prep volleyball over football? Not always, just sometimes.

This is a football town, to be sure.
But the volleyball talent is at a championship level, too, and it's worth a peek.
Some of the top teams in John Parker's Bee rankings have a real shot at advancing deep into the Northern California playoffs - St. Francis, Rocklin, Del Oro, Oak Ridge, Christian Brothers and others.
If the Holy Bowl football tilt between rivals Christian Brothers and Jesuit isn't your thing Saturday at Hughes Stadium - hey, you don't have to be Catholic to be a fan or attend - the Carmichael Invitational Volleyball Tournament is an all-day event sure to satisfy any volleyball cravings. It's a nice event spanning two different Saturdays - this one and Oct. 10.
There will be small and large-school pool and bracket play. All told, there will be 92 varsity teams from across the state on hand at various sites over the two days, including No. 5 Christian Brothers, No. 11 El Camino, No. 12 Golden Sierra, No. 13 Rio Americano and No. 14 Colfax.
Bay Area and out-of-town teams will invade the region, and wreak teenage shrieking havoc in local hotels. Friday and Saturday are also the day you might see a sea of vans with all sorts of wording on the windows, rooting for their teams. The teams will come from Fresno, or Eureka or Burlingame, where the Mercy Crusader Rabbits don't just sport the coolest mascot in the event but also feature talented cousins Melanie Capili and Veronica Smart.
For more tournament information: www.civt.org.

September 22, 2009
Flu causes postponement of Placer-Bear River volleyball match

A flu outbreak has caused Placer and Bear River high schools to postpone tonight's Pioneer Valley League volleyball match between the two schools.

The match, which was to have taken place at Bear River, is being rescheduled due to 12 of Placer's 15 varsity players being stricken with flu-like symptoms. According to Placer principal Peter Efstathiu at least two of the players have confirmed through their doctors that they have the H1N1 ("swine flu") strain.

Efstathiu said that letters and phone messages have been sent to parents outlining the school's approach to containing any spread of the virus and separate rooms have been set up on campus for students feeling sick to wait in until they can be picked up.

Efstathiu added that while several students have complained of suffering from flu-like symptoms he isn't noticing a large trend.

"Our concern right now is for the kids first and foremost," Efstathiu said. "Right now we're just asking students and parents to use common sense. We're stressing that if you feel sick, don't come to school; always wash your hands; those kinds of things."

A makeup date for the volleyball match has not yet been set.

September 20, 2009
The Bee's latest Sac-Joaquin Section Top 10 football rankings

The latest Bee Sac-Joaquin Section Top 10, with some changes. Say hello to Vacaville, storming in and ready to shake it up even more as it plays host to Granite Bay on Friday. We invite you to offer your own Top 10, and please, enough nonsense about who beat who in 2008. That has no bearing on current rankings.
The Bee's regional rankings run Tuesday.

1. Grant (3-0)
The Pacers don't like giving up first downs, field goals or touchdowns. So far, three shutouts, no points allowed and only two first downs to Bellevue in the second of Saturday's impressive 14-0 triumph in Seattle in the showcase game of the Nike Classic. All this defensive denial from a Grant team that graduated all 11 defensive starters from its 14-0 season, though noseguard Viliami Moala was a virtual starter as he played a ton of downs in 2008 and has emerged as perhaps the section's absolute top defender. And he's off to a superb start this season, as is DB James Sample. The Pacers used a 7-yard reverse from slot Dezmon Epps and a 1-yard score by workhorse back Devontae Butler in the rain against Bellevue. Next is a danger game against Oak Ridge, which is winless, yes, but also prolific as Folsom coach Kris Richardson said this bunch can score a ton. But can it score against Grant?

2. St. Mary's (2-0)
A year ago, Bellarmine Prep body slammed the Rams 35-6. This time redemption was sweet as St. Mary's dominated 34-10 in San Jose. Josh Harper, the Cal-bound burner and the best pure receiver in the section, scored three touchdowns. He had a 24-yard run and touchdown grabs of 24 and 27 yards from Marcus McDade, who continues to impress. The defense was sound as well, with Travis Whyte scoring on a 45-yard interception return and DE Devin Lagorio flooding the backfield in pursuit. The Rams host Los Banos next.

3. Granite Bay (2-0)
The Grizzlies have downed teams with speed and skill players galore in Pittsburg and now Burbank, using balance on offense and defense. DE Matt Lopez and LB Mike Wade led the charge against Burbank in the 22-6 win, and Cory Brehm powered in for 112 yards in 14 carries. Travis Nicholas had 72 yards rushing and Devaunte Bolton 66 in the second half. Bolton showed no ill effects from the bell ringer he sustained against Pittsburg. And Granite Bay has a big-time kicker in Adam Angulo, who had three field goals. His leg might come in handy against Vacaville on Friday in a terrific showdown pitting the Bulldogs explosive offense and the Grizzlies' defense. The game is in Vacaville.

4. Del Oro (2-0)
Hats off to the offensive line that paved the way for a spectacular night for Bryce Pratt, who rumbled for 260 yards in 18 carries in a thorough 49-14 beatdown at Cardinal Newman. And that's the Cardinal Newman that has reached the State Division III title game twice in the past three years. By the half, Pratt had 223 yards and five touchdowns. He took a seat early in the third, Del Oro ahead by 35. How dominant was Del Oro? It scored seven touchdowns on its first seven drives, a total of 24 plays that included 18 runs by Pratt and 321 team yards. So is Del Oro back? In a word, yes. But the coaches aren't satisfied. Next is a home game against Franklin of Elk Grove, a fast, physical team that is emerging as a D-I section title threat.

5. Vacaville (2-0)
The Bulldogs soar right into the meat of the rankings for good reason, and they debut this high to set up the showdown with Granite Bay on Friday. Vacaville is already a tradition rich program, winning the 2007 D-I section championship, and it is off to a rousing start this season with back-to-back 50-plus point efforts, including a 57-20 trashing of a good Laguna Creek team in a game that wasn't even that close. It was 34-7 at the half after a 27-point second quarter eruption. Quincy Forte scored three touchdowns and is a real threat at quarterback with his legs and arm. Jimmy Hines, Roman Hauser and Hudson Buck are other key players. The Granite Bay game is homecoming night, and a real gauge contest, too.

6. Lincoln (2-0)
A week after sweating out a 29-28 victory against Pleasant Grove, the Trojans of Stockton scored late again to beat Edison, the same team that showed flashes of promise against Grant the previous week. Brandon Gildea hit Brandon Cooks with a beauty of a 22-yard touchdown in the corner of the end zone with 20.8 seconds left for a 13-6 victory. Most impressive is how Lincoln won despite not having one of the top talents in the section in Phil Ruhl, who missed the second half with a wrist injury. He is a devastating tackler at linebacker and a bullish runner who beat Pleasant Grove with his late score in Week 1. Gildea had 197 yards passing but also had three interceptions. Christian Penzon helped fill the void of Ruhl by carrying 12 times for 50 yards in the second half.

7. Pleasant Grove (1-1)
The Eagles recovered from the tough one-point loss to Lincoln by belting a solid Roseville team 39-15. Taylor Congdon was again impressive at QB, completing 8 of 10 passes for 195 yards and three touchdowns, including strikes of 21 and 61 yards to Jalen Saunders, the do-all senior talent headed to Fresno State. The offensive line was superb and the defense did not let down after last week's second-half struggles against Lincoln. And there's a new runner to consider for PG with Laquwon Warr scoring on an 80-yard run. Next is Laguna Creek in a rematch of the City Championship game, won by the Eagles.

8. Central Catholic (2-0)
Rated No. 2 in the NorCal D-III Bowl rankings, the Raiders have looked the part all season as a small school that plays big. The latest showing was a 27-0 win over Sutter, one of the top small-school programs in the state. It was 21-0 at the half. A year ago, Central needed a late field goal to win. This time, it received touchdowns from Steel Rocha, Dylan Swartz and a Swartz TD pass to C.J. Carson. The defense was led by Billy Flamion and Jack Killian, who had interceptions, and Tony Jones, who had two sacks. He's only a sophomore.

9. Del Campo (2-0)
Anyone heard of Ryan Dimino? The senior plays quarterback but he's more of a fullback with a linebacker mentality, and after rushing for 386 yards he amassed 471 all-purpose yards in a 35-13 win over Davis. Dimino had TD runs of 71, 5 and 3 yards and he tossed two touchdowns to Orlando Ortiz. The defense was headed by Jaron Wilson, Eddie Plantaric and Anthony Rodigo. The Cougars play at Ponderosa, a team that was in these rankings earlier and features a top RB in Lyndell Scarr.

10. Inderkum (3-0)
The Tigers kind of like scoring. On everyone. Inderkum belted Wood of Vacaville 51-7 on the road as the Tigers rolled up 349 yards in the first half alone. Wood coach Mike Boles told our friend Tim Roe of the Vacaville Reporter that the Tigers are "probably the fastest team in the area, if not the section." The three-headed attack of QB Demetrius Williams and backs Devin Hartley and Antonio Bumpers. Williams had three TD passes, two to Mariko Thomas Inderkum can also defend, with Darius Jenkins returning a fumble 45 yards for a touchdown.

September 20, 2009
Prep football Week 3 schedule offers more showdowns

Week 3 prep football games. We're getting really warmed up now.

All games at 7:30 p.m.
Thursday

Highlands vs. Hogan at Vallejo
Sacramento at Folsom
Wood vs. Davis at UC Davis.

Friday

Antelope at River City
West Campus at Rio Linda
Brookside Christian at Lincoln
Center at Natomas
Cordova vs. Florin at Monterey Trail
Del Campo at Ponderosa
Dixon at Amador
El Camino at Woodland
Franklin at Del Oro
Golden Sierra at El Dorado
Granite Bay at Vacaville
Grant at Oak Ridge
Laguna Creek vs. Pleasant Grove at Sheldon
McClatchy at Vanden
Mesa Verde at Oakmont
Millennium at Delta
Mira Loma vs. Cosumnes Oaks at El Camino
Monterey Trail at Capital Christian
Nevada Union at Roseville
Pioneer at Foothill
Placer at Casa Roble
Rio Americano at River Valley
Rosemont at San Juan
Sheldon at Elk Grove
Union Mine at Colfax
Valley vs. Galt at Cosumnes River College
Vista del Lago vs. Central Catholic at Folsom
Whitney at Oakdale
Woodcreek at Bear River
Yuba City at Bella Vista
Bradshaw Christian at Albany
Gridley at Marysville
Las Lomas at Rocklin
Mt. Diablo at Kennedy
Wheatland at Lindhurst

Saturday

All games at 1 p.m., unless noted
Bear Creek at Johnson
Burbank at Riordan
Valley Christian at Sierra Ridge
Cristo Rey vs. Encina at San Juan, 7 p.m.
Jesuit vs. Christian Brothers at Hughes Stadium, 7 p.m.

September 19, 2009
Alberghini thrilled with Grant's effort in 14-0 win over Bellevue

Mike Alberghini, bless his heart, chose one form of loyalty over another. But we made it quick.

Alberghini, the Grant High School football coach, vowed to call me with the results of tonight's showdown with Bellevue, and with teenage chaos around him, he did, thrilled with the Pacers' 14-0 win over the national power in Seattle.

Alberghini raved about his defense, headed by James Sample and Viliami Moala, and an offense that did just enough to post the team's third shutout of the young season in starting 3-0. Then he had to go. Wife time.

"I've gotta call Mary or she'll give me hell," Alberghini said.

She'll give him a hug, too, as the young Pacers did their old coach proud. Dezmon Epps, whom Alberghini cracked drives him nuts with his energy and desire to make plays, scored on a 7-yard reverse late in the third quarter. And workhorse back Devontae Butler had 140 yards and a 1-yard score as Grant notched another milestone victory.

"I'm proud of these guys," Alberghini said of his team in general. "The whole team really stepped up. It was a great effort."

The Pacers will celebrate in the Bellevue Hilton tonight - look out swimming pool! - and fly back to Sacramento on Sunday, landing at 12:30. Then it's back to school to get pile onto cars. And on Monday, back to school, with a little extra bounce in their steps.

September 19, 2009
Grant is championship good again, beats Bellevue 14-0

Mike Alberghini kept telling the troops to play defense, to compete, to keep an eye on the ball.

They did, and the flight home will be a joy.

Grant High School and its veteran coach celebrated yet another milestone victory tonight, beating nationally renown Bellevue of Washington 14-0 in the showcase game of the Nike Classic at Seattle's Memorial Stadium.

Bellevue had an impressive pedigree, snapping De La Salle's 13-year, 151-game winning streak with a 39-20 win in 2004, and then clobbering national No. 3 Long Beach Poly the next season. All told, Bellevue was 5-1 lifetime against out-of-state competition, 3-0 against California.

Update: Make that 5-2 and 3-1.

Dezmon Epps scored on a 7-yard reverse with 46 seconds left in the third quarter for Grant, and Devontae Butler had a 1-yard run to make it 14-0 in the fourth.

The Pacers defense, with no returning starters from last season's 14-0 season, allowed just two second-half first downs in shutting down a wing-T offense used to devouring teams this decade, to the tune of six state championships.

The Pacers were business like after the win, according to Mark Tennis, our longtime friend from Cal-Hi Sports and ESPN who was on site to cover the game. He also projects another serious run at a state bowl game for the Pacers.

"They can get there again," Tennis said. "It's a really nice win for Grant."

The Pacers are 3-0 and have yet to allow a point.

September 19, 2009
Del Oro's running game in high gear

You can do a lot of damage in a high school football game with a fit, fresh and ferocious offensive line.
Just ask Cardinal Newman. The longtime North Bay power was body slammed by Del Oro's front, allowing Bryce Pratt to rumble for 260 yards and six touchdowns in a 49-14 stunner of a rout.
Not stunning that Del Oro won, but stunning that it rolled a traditional power like this, on the road.
"Our line was great, just dominant," Del Oro coach Casey Taylor said on the bus ride back home.
That line: Tight ends Adriam Williams and Spencer Butterfield, center Eddie Love, guards Travis Doupnick and Nick Zieour and tackles Ryan Cope and Jon Root.
Pratt owes these guys some free lunches.

September 19, 2009
Grant leads Bellevue 7-0 after three quarters

Grant can run, that's a given.
The Pacers can also add a little trickery, too.
Grant leads 7-0 over Bellevue of Washington after three quarters in this intra-state showdown of powers. The Pacers capped a 12-play, 70-yard drive - all running plays with one pass - when Dezmon Epps scored on a 7-yard reverse.
The Pacers defense forced two three-and-out series in the third against Bellevue, which relies on the wing-T.

September 19, 2009
Franklin beats Rodriguez 30-11, sets up showdown at Del Oro

No. 13 Franklin ushered in its new era on a new "home" field at Cosumnes Oak, belting Rodriguez of Fairfield 30-11 tonight in a nonleague game.
The Wildcats of Elk Grove, enjoying an overflow crowd on their new turf after playing seven seasons at Cosumnes River College, dominated all facets here. Curtis Shirey had a 90-yard kickoff return for a score, Karmah Yates had a safety and Derek McIntyre ran for a touchdown and hit Anthony King for two second-half touchdown strikes.
Now it's a game at No. 4 Del Oro on Friday in a terrific showdown of Division I going against Division II.

September 19, 2009
Del Oro pounds state power Cardinal Newman

Cardinal Newman was De La Salle before De La Salle became De La Salle.
In other words, Newman set state winning streak records and set a standard of excellence in the 1970s before De La Salle set another standard of winning streaks. Tonight, No. 4 Del Oro worked over some of that tradition, flexing some of its own, in handing the Santa Rosa team one of its worst defeats, 49-14.
The Golden Eagles received superb offensive line play to blow open holes for Bryce Pratt, who rushed for 260 yards in 18 carries and six touchdowns.
Pratt crushed California of Santa Rosa last week with 44 carries, 250 yards and four scores.
Del Oro plays host to impressive No. 13 Franklin on Friday.

September 19, 2009
Grant-Bellevue 0-0 at the half in Seattle

If defense is your thing, then this is your kind of game.
Grant and Bellevue, teams known for explosive offenses during this championship decade, have yielded a lot of nothing to each other. It's 0-0 at the half, and score one for the Pacers revamped defense that returned only one starter in Viliami Moala from their 14-0 state championship team.
Mark Tennis, our longtime friend from Cal-Hi Sports and ESPNRISE, tells me that it's cold in Seattle, with a nice backdrop of the Space Needle hovering over the stadium. He said there is about 4,000. He reports that Grant's defene is championship worthy again.
"They've rebuilt nicely," he said moments ago from Seattle. "They're playing great defense. I think they're pretty good."
Bellevue, six-time state champions in Washington and a nationally known program, had a 19-play drive in the first quarter, using the wing-T, but missed a 31-yard field goal.
For Grant, there's been movement between the 20s and that's about it, with one interception. Devontae Butler had a nifty 22-yard run, Tennis said.
Grant, remember, has not given up a point in starting 2-0 this season.
Stay tuned. More updates to come on our Twitter page. Long onto Twitter and follow us at sb_joedavidson or sacbee_preps

September 19, 2009
Mitty Invite provides a barometer for volleyball success

Since 1996 the Archbishop Mitty Invitational has developed a reputation as one of America's toughest high school volleyball tournaments. Played each September on the campus of its namesake (one of the finest volleyball programs in the nation for the better part of two decades) in the volleyball hotbed of San Jose, naturally it draws interest from another burgeoning community just two hours to the northeast.

"We come down here to expose our weaknesses and get ready for playoff volleyball," St. Francis coach Alynn Wright said.

No. 1 St. Francis, No. 3 Oak Ridge, No. 4 Christian Brothers and No. 12 Ponderosa all trekked down to the South Bay this weekend in search of a gauge of each team's potential success and, although the record may not indicate it, the early returns are promising.

Oak Ridge was consolation runner-up with a 2-2 record over the grueling four-match bracket play tournament featuring best-of-five set matches rather than a best-of-three tournament format seen most other tournaments.

"We grew a lot this weekend," Trojans coach Becky Potter said. "We learned to trust each other."

Saturday mercifully marked the end of a brutal string of seven matches in five days for Oak Ridge and if Lena Buckendorf's running into a wall chasing a stray ball or several diving stabs from Brittney Larsen in the final set of their final match are any indication, the Trojans never lost their fight.

St. Francis came in sixth, also sporting a 2-2 record. The Troubadours had arguably the toughest draw in the tournament, defeating 2008 D-II NorCal finalist Mountain View in the first round on Friday afternoon before falling to defending state D-II champion and National No. 1 Archbishop Mitty later in the evening. St. Francis regrouped with a dazzling Saturday morning session win over 6-time state champion Marymount of Los Angeles, erasing a 20-15 deficit in the third set to win it and staving off four Sailors match points in the fifth set, winning 19-17.

"We're a blue-collar team," Wright said. "That's our identity. We fought and scrapped for every point we got against (Marymount)."

Christian Brothers ended the tournament with a 1-3 record, its lone win coming in the first round against Oak Ridge. On Saturday the Falcons, still playing through nagging injuries and lineup changes took sets from Marymount -- which defeated Christian Brothers in the 2006 D-IV state title match -- and Cardinal Gibbons of Raleigh, N.C., a powerhouse program which has won 18 North Carolina state championships.

Falcons senior middle Megan Anders saw her first significant action since breaking her back six months ago in a club tournament after just receiving clearance to play within the last week. Though she showed some signs of rust, the 6-4 net-prowler looks to be ready to contribute -- as soon as she gets her legs under her.

"I'm sore, it's tough to to come back after six months," said Anders, ice packs taped from her shoulders to her knees.

Ponderosa left with a record of 0-4, but with a wealth of experience especially in integrating Vista del Lago transfers Lianna Sybeldon and Bailey Blackney.

September 19, 2009
Impressive-looking Franklin takes on Rodriguez of Fairfield tonight

Franklin football coach Mike Johnson jumped at the opportunity to play in the Battle at the Capital last Saturday at Folsom High School.

"Pleasant Grove was offered this game," Johnson said after his No. 13 Wildcats beat Sacred Heart Cathedral of San Francisco 28-10 in the season opener for his squad. "When I found out they turned it down, I literally called the promoter and begged to get into this game.

"The reality is we were a 4-6 team (in 2008) trying to get into a showcase game. I promised him we would bring a good football team into this game, and we would represent our area well."

That they did.

But even more important was to get off to a good start. Under coach Brian Prahl last season, the Wildcats lost four tough games (including 18-14 to Pleasant Grove and 28-27 to Roseville) to open the season.

"We had a very good football team last year that started 0-4," said Johnson, who returned to be Franklin's head coach after a one-year retirement. "They were losing games by under a touchdown and that wears on you.

"We talked as a staff that we have to get out of the gate. These kids have to feel what it's like to win. So this is big for us. It's bigger than the Battle of the Capital for us. We needed to come out here and show our own community we have a good football team."

The Wildcats (1-0) should have a better chance tonight at 7 p.m. to show more of the community their prowess when Fairfield power Rodriguez (0-1) comes to Elk Grove (Yes, that was a typo in The Bee today. Del Oro is playing at Cardinal Newman of Santa Rosa, not at Franklin).

There was only a small contingent of Franklin rooters who made it out to Folsom for the Wildcats' morning start under rainy skies. Tonight should be different as the Wildcats play in their shared home community stadium at Cosumnes Oaks High School.

They'll be facing a Rodriguez team that was hammered 58-21 last week by Vacaville, but has been a perennial Division III power. Last year the Mustangs went 9-3 and lost to eventual D-III section champion Casa Roble in the semifinals.

No doubt, the Wildcats will be careful about where they kick the ball. Rodriguez scored touchdowns on 93- and 95-yard kickoff returns against Vacaville.

But it's more likely that Rodriguez will have its hands full with a Franklin bunch that looks like a Delta Valley Conference title contender this season.

Against Sacred Heart Cathedral, the Wildcats showed nice balance in rushing for 263 yards and passing for 231.

"That's new for us," Johnson said of the passing attack. "We haven't usually thrown the ball like that. I'm a real run guy. But Sacred Heart did a nice job inside. They dared us to throw."

But why not throw?

With a gifted receiver like 6-foot, 190-pound Devin Des Jarlais, it makes sense to get him involved in the offense. He caught five passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns and also had 10 tackles and an interception as a defensive back.

"He was the MVP of the game," Johnson said.

The coach also liked the poise of junior Derek McIntrye. He passed for 201 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 72 yards and two scores on 14 carries.

"That's Derek's first varsity game," Johnson said. "He's a tough kid. I don't baby him. I put him into some tough running situations where I needed three or four yards."

Sacred Heart Cathedral was unable to run (26 rushes for 32 yards) on Franklin's defense, which was anchored by Des Jarlais, Hayden Thornton (14 tackles), Cody Galea (12 tackles), Jory Rucker (six pass defenses) and Jose Escobar (two sacks).

Sacred Heart quarterback Seamus Finnegan played valiantly in completing 20 of 39 passes for 146 yards, with just the one interception.

September 18, 2009
Pacers, Alberghini - and The Bee - ready for Bellevue

The Grant Pacers took in a day of Seattle, the sights and the sounds today. There was the Space Needle, a simple walk through drill at Memorial Stadium.

Now, with a hotel team meal and the ESPN Boise State-Fresno State game on the tube, they're collectively doing their best to rest. Or, as the players might suggest, chill.

Grant flew from Sacramento to Seattle earlier today and will play Washington state power Bellevue on Saturday night in the showcase game of the Nike Classic. Kickoff is listed at 8 p.m., but really, it'll more likely be a 9 p.m. kickoff as three games precede Grant.

"The kids had a good day," Grant coach Mike Alberghini said tonight by phone. "They're having a good time. Tomorrow, they understand what it's all about."

What it's about is this: opportunity. Grant is in this game against a renown national power because it went 14-0 last season and downed nationally ranked No. 2 Long Beach Poly in the CIF Open Division State Championship game. It's a first for Sacramento football, a state title, and a win puts the Pacers right back on track to jump back into that state title game.

We will cover it from all angles, too. I will post blogs and twitter updates - hello technology! - and a photographer will have a photo gallery on sacbee.com as well. I will speak to Alberghini immediately after the game - he assured I get the first call before he phones wife Mary, and second place never felt so good!

Early Saturday evening, I will blog about more of the technical aspect of the game, what Grant needs to do, what Bellevue expects to do. Stay tuned.

September 17, 2009
Beating Bay Area teams confirms public school football success

During the first two weeks of the high school football season, the area's leading teams, with a few exceptions, dominated their intersectional rivals from the Bay Area and beyond.

In Zero Week Sept. 5-6, Whitney (over Fernley of Nevada), Sacramento (Woodside), Del Campo (Arroyo-San Lorenzo), Grant (Montgomery-Santa Rosa) and Inderkum (Windsor) all won easily over their out-of-area opponents.

In Week One last Friday and Saturday, Franklin (Sacred Heart Cathedral-San Francisco), Granite Bay (Pittsburg) and Del Oro (California-San Ramon) all beat Bay Area teams at the Battle at the Capital in Folsom while Inderkum (Fernley) won in Nevada.

The wins not only continue to show that the Sacramento area plays pretty good football - perhaps as good as any in the state - it's also a testament to what is one the bastions of really good, really competitive public school football.

The private schools dominate in Southern California and the Bay Area. Even within other areas of the the Sac-Joaquin Section - Central Catholic in Modesto and St. Mary's in Stockton - the privates often overshadow the publics.

That's not the case here.

While Jesuit has one of the area's stronger programs, it's never dominated the way De La Salle of Concord, Oaks Christian of Westlake Village or St. Bonaventure of Ventura have.

The Marauders have won only two section football titles.

Christian Brothers' last glory years were in the 1980s, although the team is now playoff-caliber under fifth-year coach Andre Johansen.

I think public school football thrives in this area because, generally, the schools remain attractive enough academically, have strong booster support and are fortunate to be blessed with exceptional coaching.

One of the beacons is Granite Bay.

The Grizzlies are a disciplined bunch that keep winning year after year, despite lacking exceptional team speed, abundant size or loads of D-I scholarship types.

The Grizzlies did it again on Saturday in beating Pittsburg 30-20 in the Battle of the Capital at Folsom High School.

The Grizzlies won with a combination of poise, grit and excellent play calling. They did it despite missing several players held out for violating team rules, starting a sophomore at quarterback and with arguably their most explosive player, Devaunte Bolton, on the sidelines for three-quarters of the game. He was held out for precautionary reasons after he had his bell rung on the opening kickoff.

Still, the Grizzlies moved the ball with hard runs by Cory Brehm (13 carries, 70 yards, two touchdowns) and the amazing pass catching of senior wide receiver Ian Rhodes (8 catches, 102 yards, one touchdown).

Sophomore quarterback Brendan Keeney (170 yards passing and a touchdown and another rushing touchdown) did just enough to get the job done.

The Grizzlies' defense, behind senior linebacker Mike Wade and senior free safety Andrew Knapp, also played with bend-but-don't-break efficiency against a team that averaged more than 34 points a game in finishing 11-2 last season.

By getting ahead early, Granite Bay forced Pittsburg to move away from the comfort of its run game to what was a hot-and-cold passing attack.

Pirates' star running back Erick Dargan gained 108 yards and scored on a 19-yard run, but had no big, back-breaking bursts.

As far as Bay Area superiority, it isn't lost in the players.

"It was fun," Rhodes said. "This game meant a lot for us. It showed how we can compete against one of the big dogs. Pittsburg is a good team. They are big and fast and hit hard."

Said Cooper: "This is the way to start the season, win or lose, by playing somebody good to see where you are at. They exposed some of our weaknesses. But I thought we played a good four quarters."

The game also probably confirmed what Cooper already suspected: His seniors, none of whom started last season, could play physical and inspired and give Sacramento football's already growing reputation another positive boost.

September 15, 2009
More marquee volleyball matches on tap for Tuesday

Note: last week's rankings have been omitted due to the fact that the rankings period has ended and a new Top 15 will appear in tomorrow's Bee.

Oak Ridge (6-1) at St. Francis (11-1), 6:45 p.m.: Hard to find two teams in the area with more offensive firepower. The match-up within the match features best friends Zoe Nightingale (St. Francis middle hitter) and Katie Vaughn (Oak Ridge outside hitter), both juniors. This match likely comes down which team that passes the serve most effectively and stays in system.

Rocklin (9-1) at Placer: (1-0), 6 p.m.: The Thunder takes its act on the road after a stellar homestand last week in which it won four-set matches against then-No. 1 Christian Brothers, incumbent No. 1 Oak Ridge and an up-and coming El Camino squad. The Hillmen get a huge test in their home opener after a sweep at Ponderosa last Thursday.

Clovis West-Fresno (7-2) at Christian Brothers (5-2), 6 p.m.: The defending Central Section D-I champions come to town for a battle with the four-time reigning Sac-Joaquin Section D-IV champion Falcons. The Eagles are just the kind of team Christian Brothers coach Jeff Deter wants to schedule against -- a seasoned, tough team accustomed to making deep state playoff runs.

Nevada Union (9-2) at Golden Sierra (5-3), 6:30 p.m.: Match-up of a pair of terrific outside hitters in Nevada Union senior Abbie Miraldi (averaging 3.6 kills per set) and Golden Sierra sophomore Kaitlyn Christner (4.2 kills per set). Neither program has failed to make the section playoffs this decade: Nevada Union has won the last seven D-I titles, while Golden Sierra appeared in the first six D-IV finals of the 2000s, winning three.

El Camino (5-4) at Rio Americano (5-5), 6:30 p.m.: Two young, hungry teams with Capital Athletic League championship aspirations meet in the league opener. The Raiders feature a unique 1-2 punch in freshman middle Maddie Cannon and senior rightside Rachel Vartanian while the Eagles are led by sophomore Natalie Riddering and her 4.7 kills per set average.

September 13, 2009
The Bee's latest Sac-Joaquin Section Top 10

A look at The Bee's Sac-Joaquin Section Top 10.
The heavies impressed with routs. The top game of the weekend pitting Section ranked teams was Lincoln edging Pleasant Grove 29-28. Napa dropped out, bounced by surging Vista del Lago 28-20. Before long, there could be more changes.
The Bee's regional Top 20 runs Tuesday's.

1. Grant (2-0)
The Pacers are rolling right along with an effective run game and an unyielding defense, and my, haven't we heard this before out of this program? Grant has used these elements to win six Sac-Joaquin Section championships and post a 13-0 season in 2007 and a 14-0 mark in 2008. Devontae Butler scored two touchdowns and the defense did the rest in a 27-0 win over a speedy Edison team that wasn't so quick. Now the real test: against Bellevue, Wash., the Washington state power that halted De La Salle's amazing 13-year, 151-game winning streak and also hammered Long Beach Poly when the Jackrabbits were ranked No. 3 in the country - all in recent seasons. That game is Saturday at 8 p.m. at Memorial Stadium. A win here and coach Mike Alberghini and the Pacers are looking at more perfection record wise this season. A competitive loss doesn't bounce them out of the state bowl picture, given the strength and standing of Bellevue.

2. St. Mary's (1-0)
The Rams completely own Jesuit now. A year after crushing the Marauders 51-0, St. Mary's rolled them 48-3, allowing only a field goal as time ran out. Marcus McDade was superb in his first varsity start as the Rams usher in a new era as Cody Vaz is now on scholarship at Oregon State. McDade passed for 213 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another as the Rams ran circles around the Marauders. Maurice Howze is a shifty, quick back who had a touchdown and rushed for 97 yards. The Rams played like a team perfectly capable of repeating as section champions and representing D-III in the state bowl game. Next is always formidable Bellarmine Prep of San Jose.

3. Nevada Union (1-0)
The Miners are off to a great start, body-slamming a Ponderosa team they nipped 15-14 a year ago in an opener. NU used 11 runners to rush for 263 yards, QB Broughan Jantz was again solid and the defense was nails, headed by Dan Pettinato, who had 15 tackles. Kicker Connor Maloney made all six of his point-after-touchdowns and had six booming kicks for touchbacks, making for yet another nice weapon for coach Dave Humphers.

4. Granite Bay (1-0)
Coach Ernie Cooper suspended some players for Saturday's showdown with Pittsburg at the Battle of the Capital for violation of team policy, and he'll keep doing so if players think they can fool the coach as he has an amazingly big and deep roster. The Grizzlies downed Pittsburg, the long time North Coast Section power, 30-20 behind sophomore QB Brendan Keeney, receiver Ian Rhodes, fullback Cory Brehm and defenders such as Nick Spring, who had an interception. Next is a home game against athletic Burbank, dangerous at 0-2, including a setback to Pittsburg in an opener.

5. Del Oro (1-0)
The Golden Eagles overcame a 10-0 halftime deficit to beat a good California of San Ramon team 28-20 at the Battle of the Capital. Max Magleby had two touchdown passes to Spencer Butterfield, and workhorse back Bryce Pratt rushed for 258 yards in 44 carries and two scores, including the clincher late. All told, the Sierra Foothill League with Del Oro and Granite Bay represented well at the Battle. Next is a game at longtime state power Cardinal Newman in Santa Rosa, on Saturday.

6. Lincoln-Stockton (1-0)
New coach Brian Gray jumped for joy after his plucky team drove 86 yards late to punch in the game winner, and then exhaled as Pleasant Grove missed a 51-yard field goal as time expired, in a 29-28 opening win. The Trojans showed exactly why they're a power from the South, with speed galore and a game-changer in FB/LB Phil Ruhl, who hammered foes on defense and hammered in two touchdown runs, including the game winner with 19.5 seconds to go. Jamal Campbell ran down hill on his 60-yard punt return for a touchdown that gave his team a 22-21 lead. Next is Edison.

7. Pleasant Grove (0-1)
There's no shame in losing to a team of Lincoln's stature, though the defense is fuming for allowing it to happen. Special teams, too, for allowing so many long returns. The good news is the Eagles have a passing game with a healthy QB in Taylor Congdon, back from ACL knee surgery. He had 203 yards passing and hit Jalen Saunders for two long touchdowns. Saunders, one of the top athletes in the section, had 273 yards of total offense, six tackles and an interception.

8. Central Catholic (1-0)
Any doubters on how a small school like this can make the Top 10 should take a peek at the product. It's a superb team, superbly coached with tremendous tradition and a brutal schedule. The Raiders of Modesto stunned Cardinal Newman 36-12 at the Battle of the Capital with a flurry of big plays to blow it open. Cardinal Newman came in ranked No. 2 behind St. Mary's in the State Bowl rankings for Division III, by Cal-Hi Sports, and Central was No. 3, just ahead of Sutter. As fate would have it, Central plays St. Mary's and Sutter in the next month, and also Vista del Lago, the upstart team that upset previous Bee Section No. 8 Napa 28-20. In short, Central has as tough a schedule as any team in Northern California. Dylan Swartz had three touchdown passes against Cardinal Newman, and Daniel Killian had a 45-yard interception return for a score and then a touchdown reception to blow it open.

9. Del Campo (1-0)
The Cougars did not play, though coaches did watch Folsom tear apart Davis 41-21. Del Campo plays Davis this week, ready to unleash QB Ryan Dimino again after the senior rushed - yes, rushed - for 383 yards in a Zero Week opener.

10. Inderkum (2-0)
The Tigers may be D-III, but do we need to defend D-III any more? Not with what Central Catholic, St. Mary's and Del Campo have done of late. Inderkum is as quick and explosive as any team in the region, thanks to the athletes that run the wing-T under coach Terry Stark. The Tigers defeated Fernley of Nevada, a strong program that just isn't used to seeing these sorts of athletes. Devin Hartley rushed for 181 yards and two scores for Inderkum.

September 12, 2009
Del Oro rallies to win; locals sweep Bay Area in Battle at the Capital

Down 10-0 at halftime, No. 5 Del Oro High School rallied for four second-half touchdowns to beat California of San Ramon 28-21 in the fourth game of the Battle at the Capital football showcase tonight at Folsom High School.

Bryce Pratt scored on runs of nine and two yards and Max Magleby threw touchdowns of 13 yards and 12 yards to Spencer Butterfield to win its season opener. California fell to 0-2.
Pratt, a 6-foot, 195-pound senior, carried 44 times for 258 yards, according to stats provided by Comcast Hometown Network.

It was a clean sweep for Sacramento teams in the day-long event.

No. 4 Granite Bay defeated Pittsburg 30-20 and No. 15 Franklin of Elk Grove downed Sacred Heart Cathedral of San Francisco 28-10.

Central Catholic of Modesto defeated Cardinal Newman of Santa Rosa 36-12 in the other game.

September 12, 2009
Week 2 prep football schedule

Week 1 is in the books.
Here is the Week 2 schedule. Particular games of note include Grant against Bellevue, Wash, the national power that ended De La Salle's 13-year, 151-game winning streak in 2005, and also hammered a Long Beach Poly team that was ranked No. 3 nationally in recent seasons.

Also of interest: Nevada Union at Rocklin, Oak Ridge at Folsom, Pleasant Grove at Roseville, Elk Grove at Monterey Trail, Rodriguez at Franklin, Del Oro at Cardinal Newman. And Natomas at Foothill, which has no bearing on the rankings but will surely mean a great deal for Frank Negri, the coach who led Foothill for 42 seasons and now heads Natomas.

Friday
All games 7:15 p.m. unless otherwise noted
Bellevue vs. Grant at Memorial Stadium, Seattle, 8 p.m.
River City at Cosumnes Oaks
Antelope at Highlands
Bear River at Calaveras
Burbank at Granite Bay
Capital Christian at Modesto Christian
Cordova at El Camino
Del Campo at Davis
El Dorado at Ponderosa
Elk Grove at Monterey Trail
Foothill at Natomas
Golden Sierra at Argonaut
Jesuit at Golden Valley
Johnson at Amador
Lindhurst at River Valley
Lodi at Galt
Marysville at Yuba City
Mesa Verde at Bella Vista
Millennium at West Campus
Mira Loma at San Juan
Nevada Union at Rocklin
Oak Ridge at Folsom
Pitman at Oakmont
Pleasant Grove at Roseville
Ripon Christian at Bradshaw Christian
Rodriguez at Franklin
Rosemont vs. Enochs at Downey
Union Mine at Rio Linda
Vacaville vs. Laguna Creek at Elk Grove
Valley at Kennedy
Vista del Lago at Casa Roble
Wood vs. Inderkum at Vacaville
Woodcreek at Placer
Woodland at Whitney
Chico at Sheldon
Delta at Rio Vista
Lincoln at Wheatland
Winters at Dixon

Saturday
Games at 1 p.m., unless otherwise indicated.
Center at McClatchy
Florin at Sacramento
Pioneer at Rio Americano
Stone Ridge Christian vs. Encina at El Camino
Valley Christian at Woodland Christian
Colfax at Truckee
Del Oro at Cardinal Newman, 7 p.m.
San Joaquin Memorial at Christian Brothers
Cristo Rey vs. Big Valley Christian at San Juan, 7 p.m.

September 12, 2009
Prep football items of interest

Week 1 thoughts to share...

* The upset of the weekend was Vista del Lago going to Napa and stunning the tradition-rich Indians 28-20.
Vista, remember, has its first senior class, but it's a talented, hard-working group led by one of the very best coaches in the valley in Chris Jones.
Trey Hairabedian rushed for 166 yards and two scores and Anthony Mull had two touchdown passes to Nick Grunsky for Vista, which now prepares for another power in Casa Roble.
* Nevada Union's thorough 42-7 beatdown of a solid Pondesa team suggests clearly that the No. 2 Miners are ready for a special season. Eleven NU runners combined to rush for 260 yards, and QB Broughan Jantz was steady again.
Dan Pettinato had 15 tackles, making for one very stout defense.
* Top-ranked Grant seems ready to take on Bellevue, Wash., a state power ranked nationally, next Saturday in Seattle. The Pacers have posted shutouts of 42-0 and 27-0, including Friday against Edison. Devontaue Butler could score 40 touchdowns this season.
* James Lee of Capital Christian is a competitor, and a winner. The next fine QB to come through the program, Lee passed for a score and ran for two others in beating Bear River 29-14.
* Kori Babineaux isn't just a heck of a basketball player for Folsom. He might even be a better prospect in football, where the junior hauled in three touchdowns against Davis, two from Dano Graves, who had a perfect half with five touchdowns and no interceptions for a 34-0 early lead that led to a 42-21 rout.
* Russell Robards was slowed most of last season with injuries for Elk Grove, but he's healthy now. He rushed for 187 yards and two scores to lead the Herd past Chavez 37-6.
* David Oates of Capital had three interceptions to lead a spirited defensive showing against a strong Bear River club.
* Deone Young of Sheldon is a swift talent, and he rushed for 203 yards and two scores in a 25-10 opening night win over Lodi.
* Phil Ruhl of Lincoln-Stockton is a stud. That simple. He nails people on defense and he scores close to the endzone, including the game winner to beat No. 3 Pleasant Grove 29-28.
* Still, there's no shame losing to Lincoln, a team with terrific speed, including special teams. Taylor Congdon's return at QB after missing the second half of last season with a blown ACL was more than a moral victory for Pleasant Grove.
* All that prep chat/discussion that Casa Roble was doomed to failure this season was absurd. The Rams aren't going any where, a credit to the program coach Norm Ryan has built. Casa beat Woodcreek 23-7.
* That's two years in a row that Rio Linda jumped all over Roseville in an opener. This time it was 36-20 as Cameron Mikell rushed for 260 yards. Rio Linda coach Mike Morris said Mikell is the fastest back he's ever coached, and he's had some burners.
* Rocklin and Oak Ridge are teams poised to make huge strides this season, with a ton of returning players. The Thunder beat Oak Ridge 40-32 behind James Laughrea and Jackson Cummings, as good a 1-2 punch as there is in the area. Rocklin plays host to NU on Friday.
* Antelope and Cosumnes Oaks lost varsity debut games, to Dixon and Escalon, respectively.
* Franklin's win over Sacred Heart Cathedral and Granite Bay's triumph of Pittsburg is further proof that both teams are ready for big seasons.

September 12, 2009
Woodcreek football is still trying to reach Casa Roble's level

The Woodcreek High School football program wants to be where Casa Roble has been the past seven seasons: Recognized as one of the area's best.

But after losing 23-7 to the defending Sac-Joaquin Section Division III champions in Roseville Friday night, the Timberwolves still look like they are trying to find their way.

Last season was a breakthrough for the Timberwolves. They finished 6-6 and made the playoffs for the first time in school history.

But they also lost to a loaded Casa Roble team 32-14 (extending their losing streak to 11 games at the time) to open last season and didn't look much more effective against a less explosive bunch on Friday.

Last season Woodcreek rebounded from the Casa Roble loss to win close games against Placer and Bear River and later beat Rocklin, Oakmont and Del Oro in successive weeks to land what had been an elusive playoff berth. The Timberwolves beat Oak Ridge in the first round of the D-II playoffs before falling to eventual champion Grant in the semifinals.

In the next four weeks they are to face four nonleague opponents that might be better than Casa Roble, hit hard by graduation.

"I wouldn't say that we have the weight of the world hanging on this year," says Woodcreek coach John Hildebrand. "But we want to prove that we have consistent staying power like Casa Roble. They've had it rolling."

But if Woodcreek does get it rolling, it will likely be with 5-foot-11, 178-pound senior running back James Nunley front and center.

The Cal-Hi Sports' all-section preseason first team pick is a rare four-year varsity player who had 2,822 career yards rushing and 31 touchdowns coming into the Casa game.

Woodcreek could never get him untracked or close to 3,000 yards on Friday. Although he had a 49-yard kickoff return to the Rams' 44 yard line in the second quarter, Casa Roble held Nunley to 68 rushing yards on 20 carries, four catches for 28 yards and no touchdowns.

Still, Hildebrand knows he has a rare talent.

"There's a lot that makes James special," he said. "From the outside looking in, you see the athleticism, the speed and the moves. But from the inside, you see the toughness, the heart and the intelligence. He is one of the smartest football players I have coached."

Nunley's college future may be more as a defensive back - where he also excels - but Hildebrand says there are some colleges interested in him as a running back.

"It just depends on how he fits into their system," Hildebrand said. "But he's done a little bit of everything for us."

Nunley, a member of Woodcreek's 0-10 team as a sophomore, is leading a group of Timberwolves hungry for success. The seniors would like to post an overall winning varsity record before they graduate while the juniors hope to continue the success that saw them go 16-4 as JVs and freshmen.

To do it they will need to get by the likes of Placer, Bear River, Del Campo and Inderkum in the next four weeks, then it's onto the rugged Sierra Foothill League, arguably the section's toughest.

"I think like anything there may be moments of self-doubt and what ifs," Hildebrand said a few days before the Casa loss. "But right now the kids see a lot more in the positives."


September 10, 2009
Top-ranked Oak Ridge falls in Thunder Valley

On paper this week didn't look too good for Rocklin volleyball.

Though showing promise last weekend at the Christine Craft Memorial Tournament the Thunder had two defending Sac-Joaquin Section champions and perennial powerhouses Christian Brothers and Oak Ridge coming to Thunder Valley.

What a difference three days makes.

The seventh-ranked Thunder (10-1) downed No. 1 Oak Ridge (6-1) 3-1 (25-14, 17-25, 25-11, 25-23) on Thursday night to cap one of the most impressive weeks by any program anywhere. On Tuesday the Thunder beat then-No. 1 Christian Brothers, also in four sets.

"If you want to be the best, you need to play against the best," said Rocklin coach Dave Muscarella of his team's brutal non-league schedule. "I want the competition."

The Thunder have now beaten five teams ranked in The Bee's Top 15 and will make a sizable jump forward when the next rankings are released next Wednesday.

Rocklin beat the Trojans on Thursday with a scrappy defense that frustrated Oak Ridge hitters and ferocious serving attack. Sophomore rightside hitter Cailyn Prewitt had six aces (including four in the first set) while sophomore outside hitter Katelyn Ivy had four to keep the Trojans' high flying offense completely out of system.

"Serving is the key," said Prewitt, who also had 11 kills. "(Oak Ridge) has some very good hitters but we kept them out of it."

Things didn't start well for the Thunder as Oak Ridge opened the match with a Kayla Berringer-Sarah Horning combo block followed by a Berringer kill to take a 2-0 lead in the first set. Prewitt got the Thunder on the board by tooling the Oak Ridge block to start a 10-1 run in which she put down four kills and had three aces to give the Thunder control.

The Trojans flipped the script in the second set, serving more aggressively and committing fewer errors, while the Thunder struggled to get out of its own way. Oak Ridge jumped out to a 9-2 lead on a kill from Horning but the Thunder slowly began to claw its way back. A net violation by Trojan rightside hitter Lena Buckendorf made the score 13-10, but that was as close as Rocklin would get.

The Thunder found its serve once again in the third set, one that it dominated from start to finish. Rocklin aced the Trojans seven times in the third set including game point courtesy of one of Prewitt's jump floaters.

"Aggressive serving was the key tonight, no doubt about it," Muscarella said.

The Thunder appeared to be on a road to easy victory once again in the fourth set, opening up a lead of 11-4 after a kill from Ivy. But three straight errors and some scrappy defense got the Trojans back into it as they eventually took a 14-13 lead on one of Prewitt's few errors of the night. Oak Ridge eventually held a lead of 22-20 but could not close out as Ivy notched two aces and a kill and Prewitt had two of her own (including match point) to claim the victory.

"I'd rather have this happen now than later in the season," Oak Ridge coach Becky Potter said. "This is why we schedule tough, to get ready for the playoffs."

berringer.jpg
Photo courtesy of Drew Horning
Oak Ridge outside hitter Kayla Berringer pounds a spike through the block of Rocklin's Morgan Smith on Thursday. Berringer had 15 kills for the Trojans.

September 10, 2009
Bevvy of big volleyball match-ups tonight

No. 1 Oak Ridge (6-0) at No. 7 Rocklin (7-1), 6:15 p.m.: The Thunder already have wins over four Top 15 teams this season while the top-ranked Trojans have beaten three.

Bishop Manogue-Reno (1-1) at No. 2 St. Francis (9-1), 6 p.m.: The defending Nevada State 4A champs come down the hill to face the Troubadours, who won the High Sierra Invitational (in Reno) over the weekend.

No. 3 Christian Brothers (4-2) at No. 4 Nevada Union (9-1), 6:30 p.m.: Longtime coach Bob Rogers is back after taking one year off and appears to have them poised for another successful run in D-I while Jeff Deter's Falcons have struggled to click at times early in the season.

No. 11 Placer (0-0) at No. 8 Ponderosa (1-4), 5:30 p.m.:
The Hillmen open their season at Ponderosa, which has struggled to find a rhythm early.

No. 14 Golden Sierra (2-2) at No. 13 Colfax (0-1), 6 p.m.: Kaitlyn Christner is averaging 4.4 kills per set for the Grizzlies.

September 7, 2009
Sacramento football goes 4-2 against Bay Area in Zero Week matchups

It still isn't time to brag.

Although Grant, Inderkum, Del Campo and Sacramento won one-sided games against Bay Area football teams on Friday and Saturday, the area came up shorthanded in a couple of other major Sac vs. Bay tests.

Berkeley, No. 13 in Cal-Hi Sports Division I Northern California rankings, ran all over No. 8 Ponderosa in beating the Bruins 26-7 Saturday night in Shingle Springs while Burbank, the runners-up to Grant in the D-II Sac-Joaquin Section finals last season, was beaten 27-8 by No. 5 Pittsburg on Friday night in the East Bay.

The Bruins hung with Berkeley through the first two quarters in playing to a 7-7 draw. But eventually the Yellowjackets' quickness took its toll.

Berkeley finished with 380 yards rushing, with tailback Rickey Galvin leading the way with 235 yards and two touchdowns. Berkeley defenders also intercepted three passes.

Ponderosa's Lyndell Scarr rushed for 211 yards and had his team's only touchdown.

Pittsburg, which went 11-2 last season, won easily over the Titans despite committing 21 penalties for 151 yards.

Erick Dragan led the Pirates with 143 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Jamon Archie topped Burbank with 84 yards rushing.

Still, Zero Week proved not bad for Sacramento's football reputation.

Grant (ranked No. 2 by Cal-Hi in D-1) beat Montgomery of Santa Rosa 42-0 and Inderkum topped Windsor 29-0 on Friday and Del Campo (No. 3 by Cal-Hi in D-II) downed Arroyo of San Lorenzo 42-6 (behind Ryan Dimino's 382 yards rushing) and Sacramento beat Woodside 33-0 on Saturday.

Toss in Whitney's impressive 28-14 win over visiting Fernley of Nevada on Friday and it wasn't a bad effort for an area battling to be viewed as one of the best for prep football in Northern California.


September 6, 2009
The latest Sac-Joaquin Section Top 10

With Zero Week games in the books, it's now time for everyone to kick off the prep football season.
Here's a look at our Sac-Joaquin Section Top 10. The Bee will run its regional Top 20 on Tuesdays.

1. Grant (1-0)
The Pacers showed glimpses of how great they can be - again - by walloping a very solid Montgomery of Santa Rosa team 42-0 on Friday in Del Paso Heights. Yes, Grant was penalized 19 times - the referees blew some calls and Grant also had some bad blunders - but the defense was superb as was tailback Devontae Butler, who rushed for 239 yards and four touchdowns. Glenn Deary was solid at quarterback, with so much more room to grow. He overthrew some and had other passes dropped. Viliami Moala is an amazing talent, as wide as deep freezer and agile and forceful on the lines, as is Puka Lopa. Sophomore Shaq Thompson did a little of everything: receptions, returns, punting, an interception. All in all, a good showing for coach Mike Alberghini.

2. St. Mary's (0-0)
The Rams reached the CIF Division II bowl game after downing Pleasant Grove in the section D-I championship, and despite losing star QB Cody Vaz to Oregon State, the Stockton school could be even better this fall. New QB Marcus McDade sparkled in summer passing leagues and camps and is rated the No. 2 senior QB in Northern California by NorCalPreps, and he will flourish in a wide-open system under coach Tony Franks. McDade has some terrific receivers in recruits Josh Harper and Louie Lechich, each of whom had 1,000 yards receiving a year ago. The Rams open at Jesuit on Sept. 12, a year after blowing the Marauders clear out of Stockton. Jesuit is much improved, however. Should the Rams repeat as section champs, no surprise.

3. Nevada Union (0-0)
The Miners of Grass Valley roared back to their customary spot among the elite last fall after a downer of a 2007 season that included tough losses and an assortment of injuries. Coach Dave Humphers returns a ton of talent, so much so that NU could very well wind up back in the City Championship game. The Miners return 13 starters, including anchors in QB Broughan Jantz (1,441 yards, 19 TDs), a real weapon of versatility and poise, and LB Zach Vallejo, a tackling machine in the Matt Beck/Spencer Havner mode of yesteryear. NU has the makings of one of its greatest teams, and they've had some great clubs, including the 1989 and '90 City Championship team, the 1993 and '94 section title teams and the title teams of earlier this decade. The wing-T master Miners open at home against Ponderosa on Friday, as the coaching staff caught a glimpse of the Bruins 26-7 loss to a very fast and talented Berkeley team that returned a ton of talent from a 9-2 team.

4. Pleasant Grove (0-0)
The Eagles of Elk Grove beat Laguna Creek in the City Championship after downing talented Nevada Union in a semi-final despite a rash of injuries. It was a testament to the program coach Joe Cattolico has built. QB Taylor Congdon, out for the playoffs last fall due to injury, is back, and he's as fast and dangerous as anyone at that position in the region. Versatile WR Jalen Saunders - bound for Fresno State - had a terrific summer camp showing (he also played QB in the playoffs). The defense is headed by Darius Powe-Reed. One of the promising young players is sophomore lineman Arik Armstead, already offered a scholarship by UCLA. This isn't a new school any more. It's fully arrived. The Eagles open at home against Lincoln-Stockton on Friday at Sheldon.

5. Granite Bay (0-0)
The Grizzlies are always good to great. Nothing less. It's a given, and it's a credit to coach Ernie Cooper, fast becoming one of the great leaders in this region. Remember, Granite Bay gave Grant its toughest game all of last season, an assessment Pacers coach Mike Alberghini agrees with. A ton of seniors departed Granite Bay, giving way to a ton of new eager seniors. Cooper has a varsity crew of 85 players, making for intense practices and incredible depth and new wrinkles to explore on offense, including unleashing tailback Devaunte Bolton and defenders Mike Wade and Andrew Knapp. Early test right away in Bay Area power Pittsburg on Saturday in the Battle at the Capital at Folsom. Granite Bay coaches were able to double scout in Saturday, watching Pittsburg down Burbank 27-8 on Saturday. Granite Bay and Burbank play in Week 2.

6. Del Oro (0-0)
It was an off year for what has been a decidedly up program under coach Casey Taylor this decade. The Golden Eagles of Loomis have a lot of star power returning, including RB Bryce Pratt, who scored 19 times a year ago as a classic power runner, and WR Spencer Butterfield, one of the top athletes in the state, regardless of sport. He was the best player for a playoff basketball team a year ago. All told, 12 starters are back, and the JV team went 8-2. Del Oro also returns some key defenders, which is good considering the Sierra Foothill League will be a bruising affair again, including Granite Bay, Roseville, Rocklin and Oakmont, among others. The Golden Eagles open against California of San Ramon on Saturday at Folsom in the Battle at the Capital.

7. Lincoln-Stockton (0-0)
The Trojans annually give St. Mary's a battle, including a 32-31 loss last season. And the Trojans have won the SJAA title six times this decade. Lincoln has skill players galore, including RB Philip Ruhl, WR Jamal Campbell and WR Brandon Cooks. New coach Brian Gray takes over for Jim Rubiales, with defense a strength, anchored by DL Roderick Townsend. Opener at Pleasant Grove will be telling.

8. Napa (0-0)
Troy Mott has the Indians in cruise control in recent years, including a section title in 2007 and a 10-2 showing last season. Charles Boyett returns at QB after rushing for 988 yards, and he'll have to play a lot like his celebrated brother John, The Bee's 2007 Player of the Year now playing in the secondary at Oregon. Logan Hess, who rushed for 1,408 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2008, suffered a second knee injury late in camp and will miss the season. LB Juan Martinez leads a revamped defense. Should win the Monticello Empire League again. Napa opens at home against very dangerous and vastly improved Vista del Lago of Folsom on Friday.

9. Central Catholic (0-0)
Don't scoff at the size of the school. This is every bit a small-school super power, where the Raiders of Modesto play larger powers in nonleague games and generally prevail, including downing St. Mary's last season. Ten starters return, and there are newcomer talents from yet another 10-0 JV team for coach Roger Canepa. The leader is QB Dylan Swartz, rated the No. 5 senior QB in Northern California by NorCalPreps. The Raiders open with a classic against longtime state power Cardinal Newman of Santa Rosa on Saturday at the Battle at the Capital at Folsom.

10. Del Campo (1-0)
The Cougars have all the makings of a championship team, in the Capital Athletic League and beyond. Del Campo and Casa Roble have gone back and forth for league supremacy in the this decade, with Casa going 13-0 and capping its greatest season with its first D-III section title. When you talk Del Campo, you talk Dimino - coach Mike and star player son Ryan, who lines up at quarterback and runs like a fullback. He rushed for 382 yards in a season-opening rout of Arroyo of San Lorenzo in what may be an area record for quarterbacks. Dimino had 13 carries of 10 or more yards, thanks to superb offensive line play. He rushed for two scores and hit Jaron Wilson for another. Dominic Pruitt had a 75-yard interception return for a touchdown and Stanford-bound Eddie Plantaric blocked a punt for a touchdown to highlight a defense that should be a team strength. The only smear was 25 penalties.

September 6, 2009
Prep football Week 1 schedule

The Zero Week games are in the books. This week marks the official kickoff for the entire Sac-Joaquin Section.
Here's the schedule for Sacramento-area games.

All games at 7 p.m.

Thursday
Folsom vs. Davis, at UC Davis, 7 p.m.
Kennedy at El Camino, 7p.m.

Friday
Capital Valley Conference
Dixon at Antelope, 7:30 p.m.

Nonleague
Edison at Grant
Pleasant Grove vs. Lincoln-Stockton at Sheldon
Ponderosa at Nevada Union
Rio Linda at Roseville
Amador at Golden Sierra
Bear River at Capital Christian
Bella Vista at Cordova
Casa Roble at Woodcreek
Center at Colfax
Chavez at Elk Grove
Cosumnes Oaks at Escalon
Delta vs. Elliot Christian, at Lincoln-Stockton
El Dorado at Union Mine
Encina vs. West Campus at El Camino
Galt at McNair
Laguna Creek vs. Florin at Monterey Trail
Lincoln at Woodland
McClatchy at Patterson
Millennium at Highlands
Mira Loma vs. Mesa Verde at San Juan
Monterey Trail at Fairfield
Napa vs. Vista del Lago at Napa
Oakmont at Foothill
Placer at Rosemont
Rocklin at Oak Ridge
San Juan at River City
Sheldon vs. Lodi at Grape Bowl
Summerville at Bradshaw Christian
Valley vs. Argonaut at Cosumnes River College
Wood at Pioneer
Inderkum at Fernley, NV
Live Oak at Lindhurst
River Valley at Sutter
Wheatland at Marysville
Yuba City vs. Chico at Chico State
Valley Christian at California School for the Deaf, 4 p.m.

Saturday
Nonleague
All games 1 p.m. unless noted
Burbank at Christian Brothers
Franklin-Stockton at Johnson
Natomas at Rio Americano
St. Mary's at Jesuit
Cristo Rey vs. Woodland Christian at San Juan , 7 p.m.
Battle at the Capital
At Folsom High School
Franklin-Elk Grove vs. Sacred Heart Cathedral-San Francisco, 11 a.m.
Pittsburg vs. Granite Bay, 2 p.m.
Central Catholic vs. Cardinal Newman, 5 p.m.
California-San Ramon vs. Del Oro, at Folsom 8 p.m.

September 6, 2009
Dimino has big night in Del Campo's 42-6 win over Bay Area visitors

On a most bizarre evening, Ryan Dimino had a most amazing performance, showing why he is one of the Sac-Joaquin Section's special players.

The Del Campo senior quarterback rushed for 382 yards and two touchdowns and passed for 86 yards and another score in the No. 7 Cougars' 42-6 win over visiting Arroyo of San Lorenzo Saturday night.

What's amazing is that it could have been a lot more. Del Campo was flagged for penalties 24 times, and Dimino had several big gains called back.

"They're good refs and really experienced," Dimino said. "It's our fault. They were good calls. We just need to be more disciplined."

At one point, Del Campo statistician Ron Stivers figured Dimino accounted for 116 yards rushing and passing on the Cougars' 80-yard scoring drive to open the third quarter. And that was after stadium announcer Neil Reilly quipped: "We promise to have you home by 1 a.m" after a multitude of flags landed on the field during the kickoff to start the second half.

The 6-foot, 205-pound Dimino carried the ball 24 times and scored on touchdown runs of 3 and 21 yards. He completed seven of 15 passes and had a 23-yard scoring strike to wide receiver Jaron Wilson.

"My line was the key to my success tonight, and the receivers blocked well and ran good routes," Dimino said. "I just threw the ball, and they made good plays. I couldn't do it without my team."

Del Campo coach Mike Dimino wasn't sure if his gifted son may have set a school rushing record. While impressed with the total, he said confirmation won't come until the game film is reviewed.

"That's what we do our stats off of," Mike Dimino said.

While the young Dimino's rushing total was impressive, it isn't close to the section bests.

Dallas Bernstein of Bethel holds that mark with 555 yards. Ponderosa's Lyndell Scarr holds the area best of 471 yards set last season against rival Oak Ridge.

Dimino ran a number of times straight up the gut, barreling over Arroyo's smallish linebackers and breaking into the open field for sizeable gains.

He had at least 13 runs of 10 yards or more and a long gain of 43 yards.

"The holes were enormous," Dimino said. "The line did very well at opening things up. The whole game they talked about getting their pancakes."

Del Campo's defense was just as dominating.

Other than a 12-play, 76-yard scoring drive in the third quarter, the Dons spent most of the game punting or turning the ball over to the Cougars on downs or turnovers.

The Cougars' defense accounted for 15 points.

Dominic Pruitt returned an interception 75 yards for a touchdown; 260-pound Stanford-bound Eddie Plantaric (the talented senior just keeps growing) blocked a punt and returned it four yards for a touchdown; and Rudi Hall tackled an Arroyo ball carrier in the end zone for a safety.

Placekicker Michael Cloutier also gave the Cougars a boost by making 43- and 24-yard field goals.

September 4, 2009
Area players impress Scout.com's Francisco at Nor Cal Clash

Joel Francisco, who covers basketball recruiting for Scout.com, was impressed with several area players at the first annual Nor Cal Clash on Sunday at Contra Costa College in San Pablo.

The Class of 2011 Class beat the Class of 2010 by a score of 105-99.

Sacramento High guard Josiah Turner led the winners with 20 points and his Dragons' backcourt mate, Travon Abraham, topped the seniors with 22 points.

But Francisco also was impressed by several others.

He noted that the 2011 squad received strong performances from Oakmont's 6-6 J.T. Adenrele and Sheldon's 6-5, 220-pound Darius Nelson.

Francisco called Nelson, who had 19 points for the juniors, "one of the breakout players of the event," and said the 190-pound Adenrele "might be the best-kept secret in Northern California's Class of 2011."

He also praised Sheldon 6-7 junior Ramon Eaton's improved 3-point shooting and believes that 6-8 senior Josh Ritchart of Forest Lake Christian "might turn out to be the most productive college player in the Northern California Class of 2010."

September 3, 2009
St. Francis returns the favor from a year ago, downs top-ranked Christian Brothers

St. Francis waited a whole year for its revenge. And man, was it sweet.

The third-ranked Troubadours erased the memories of a sweep at the hands of Christian Brothers last year in their Foundation Games match by going into the top-ranked Falcons' gym and claiming a 3-2 (22-25, 25-23, 25-23, 15-25, 15-7) victory on Thursday night.

"This match was all about pride," senior rightside hitter Kiki Kosler said. "We wanted this one bad."

Coincidentally in last year's Foundation Games then-No. 3 Christian Brothers went into then-No. 1 St. Francis' gym and wrestled away the top spot.

This time around the Troubadours used a heavy dose of middles Zoe Nightingale and Mary Clark to flip the script. Nightingale had a match-high 21 kills -- including five in the fifth set and the match's decisive point -- while Clark chipped in 14.

Christian Brothers (0-0) was playing in its first match of the season, though the outcome does not count in win-loss records, while the Troubadours (0-1) had already played in a five set match this week, losing to seven-time defending D-I Section champion Nevada Union at home on Tuesday.

"I think that helped us a little," Nightingale said. "We knew how to deal with that pressure."

The Falcons erased a 16-12 deficit in the first set and took a 19-17 on back-to-back Erika Cuevas kills but St. Francis came back with a 5-1 run to take the lead at 22-20 on a Nightingale shot. From there a Cuevas kill, a Kelly Pelz ace, a St. Francis ball handling error and a slick Jessica Jones kill gave the Falcons set point, which they won when St. Francis failed to get the ball over the net.

Christian Brothers jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the second set but saw it evaporate, committing numerous ball-handling errors and even an out of rotation violation. A Clark ace gave the Troubadours a lead they would not give back.

The Falcons again jumped out to a lead to open the third set as an Annie Peabody ace gave them a 7-2 lead. From there St. Francis methodically chipped away at the lead as outside hitter Kacey Clark, Nightingale and Mary Clark mixed velocities and spots to get kills down on the Christian Brothers defense. Back-to-back Nightingale kills gave St. Francis a 14-12 lead but service errors let Christian Brothers back into the set as the Falcons took a 19-18 lead on an Alex Henry misfire.

A Henry kill gave St. Francis a 24-23 lead and a Kosler-Mary Clark combo block gave the Troubadours the set on the next point.

Christian Brothers was without 6-4 middle Megan Anders, who continues to recuperate from a broken back she suffered during club action in April. Pelz, last year's All-Metro first team setter, started the match at setter for Christian Brothers, before giving way to former Loretto setter Sarah Biondi who entered midway through the third set.

"We're still trying to integrate everyone," coach Jeff Deter said of Peabody, Anders, Biondi and Kim Fazio who all came over after Loretto closed in the spring. "We're still ironing out the wrinkles."

St. Francis was without head coach Alynn Wright, who was at daughter Taryn's (who is Montana's setter) match at Cal State Fullerton, and instead was coached by longtime assistant Bill Hanrahan.

"There are no underdogs in this match-up," Cuevas said. "Tonight our mentality beat us."

September 3, 2009
Foundation games feature some dazzling match-ups

Tonight the Sac-Joaquin Section volleyball Foundation Games -- a fundraiser for the Dale Lacky Memorial Scholarship -- take place at 62 high schools around the region.

While these matches are technically an exhibition and do not count in any team's overall record -- but are used in determining The Bee's rankings -- they are certainly worth watching.

The section receives half of the gate proceeds from each match and uses it to fund the Dale Lacky Memorial Scholarship. Last year between volleyball and boys and girls basketball the section raised $34,000 which it used to help 50 college-bound seniors with financial aid.

All matches begin at 7 p.m.

Here's a look at a few of the more intriguing match-ups:

No. 3 St. Francis at No. 1 Christian Brothers: Last year this match was played at St. Francis and the then-No. 3 Falcons unseated the then-No. 1 Troubadours in three sets. Expect the match tonight to be closer as Christian Brothers will likely play without 6-4 middle Megan Anders, who is recovering from a broken back, and will be playing its first match of the year. St. Francis on the other hand has one match under its belt, a five-set loss to defending D-I champion Nevada Union on Tuesday.

No. 2 Oak Ridge at No. 9 Granite Bay: The Trojans, who lost just four times last year, open the 2009 season with a tough test against an up-and-coming Granite Bay squad. Despite the loss of super stud right side Kaleigh Durket, Oak Ridge still has an impressive arsenal featuring left sides Kayla Berringer and Katie Vaughn and Durket's successor on the right side, Lena Buckendorf.

No. 11 Placer at No. 5 Del Oro: Two teams accustomed to postseason success meet in each school's season opener. Del Oro, despite losing six seniors, looks to be strong once again especially with the addition of setter Bailey Humes, a transfer from Lincoln.

No. 8 Ponderosa at No. 13 Golden Sierra: Though Golden Sierra has been in a rebuilding phase for the past couple of years, it appears as though the Grizzlies' hibernation is over. Golden Sierra enters tonight already armed with impressive wins over Bear River and El Dorado while Ponderosa was swept by Rocklin in its season opener last Thursday.

A list of all the matches can be found here.

September 2, 2009
A peek at the CalHiSports/CIF state bowl rankings

CalHiSports has released its CIF state bowl game rankings. They become especially important come November. For now, they're ideal for discussion.

You will notice that with the enrollment figurers released by the CIF this week that some schools have moved divisions, adding to the intrigue. Records are from last season. I threw in some comments below each Division. We invite yours on the chat forum as well.

Division I North
1. De La Salle (Concord) 12-2
2. Grant (Sacramento) 14-0
3. Monte Vista (Danville) 8-3
4. Granite Bay 9-2
5. Pittsburg 11-2
6. Serra (San Mateo) 8-4
7. Foothill (Pleasanton) 9-3
8. Ponderosa (Shingle Springs) 7-3
9. Nevada Union (Grass Valley) 10-2
10. Bellarmine (San Jose) 12-1
11. Oak Grove (San Jose) 11-1
12. Milpitas 9-2
13. Berkeley 9-2
14. Wilcox (Santa Clara) 8-5
15. Napa 10-2
No surprise here with De La Salle and Grant occupying the top spots. Granite Bay and Pittsburg play early, as do Berkeley and Ponderosa, and Ponderosa plays Nevada Union. These rankings will see some immediate action.

Division II North
1. Los Gatos 10-2
2. St. Francis (Mountain View) 3-6-1
3. Del Campo (Fair Oaks) 9-3
4. Paradise 11-1
5. Novato 11-3
6. Foothill (Palo Cedro) 6-5
7. Manteca 8-2
8. Vanden (Travis AFB) 9-2
9. Casa Roble (Orangevale) 13-0
10. Encinal (Alameda) 13-0
If you're wondering where defending D-I section champion St. Mary's of Stockton is, it has dipped to D-III due to enrollment, missing the cut off by 50 students. Still a stacked division.

Division III North
1. St. Mary's (Stockton) 12-3
2. Cardinal Newman (Santa Rosa) 13-1
3. Central Catholic (Modesto) 11-2
4. Palma (Salinas) 8-3
5. Valley Christian (San Jose) 10-3
6. Bishop O'Dowd (Oakland) 10-2
7. Marin Catholic (Kentfield) 9-3
8. Castlemont (Oakland) 9-2-1
9. Escalon 11-1
10. The King's Academy (Sunnyvale) 10-1-1
Here's St. Mary's jammed in with Cardinal Newman and Central Catholic. All of these teams will run into each at some point.

Division III Small Schools North
1. Modesto Christian 9-2
2. Ferndale 10-1
3. St. Francis (Watsonville) 7-4
4. Modoc (Alturas) 12-0
5. Bradshaw Christian (Sacramento) 10-2
6. Capital Christian (Sacramento) 5-6
7. St. Vincent (Petaluma) 11-1
8. Hamilton (Hamilton City) 10-3
9. Fall River (McArthur) 10-2
10. Ripon Christian 6-4
Bradshaw Christian and Capital Christian are teams to look for with a wealth of talent returning, and here's Modesto Christian as proof that it isn't just a basketball power.

September 1, 2009
Missteps, unforseen complications doomed football showcase

Greg Hayman said it sounded like a good idea.

The Sacramento City College director of operations met with Kevin Kelly and Steve Caruso last January about renting Hughes Stadium for a four-game high school football preseason showcase, the West Coast Classic, that might include Grant, fresh off winning the California Interscholastic Federation State Bowl Open Division championship.

The event would be sponsored by Nike, a company Kelly is involved with, and run by Caruso's promotions company, which has put on popular high school charity basketball showcases.

The goal was to try to fill 23,000-seat Hughes Stadium.

A revenue-sharing formula would be used for the participating teams and also raise funds for Francis House, a homeless resource and counseling center in Sacramento.

What followed were a series of missteps and some unforeseen complications that left schools scrambling and promoters trying to explain why the event died.

"Everybody was enthused," Hayman said. "I said, 'Here's the requirements.'"

That included $10,000 to rent the stadium and a 50 percent deposit 60 days before the Sept. 5 event.

"We kept waiting for a call," Hayman said.

The deadline passed but Caruso and Kelly eventually met with Hayman on Aug. 14. Now a three-game event without Grant involved, the fee was reset to $8,000 for the rental, security, staffing and clean-up expenses.

But the leery Hayman wanted the entire sum up front.

He said Caruso and Kelly balked.

"It seems they were counting on the gate receipts," he said. "But they wanted someone to front that effort."

A few days later Hayman received a call. "Will you take half?" Hayman declined.

"I gave them until the end of business day Aug. 18 to come up with all the money," he said.

That day came and passed and a few days later the event wound up at Whitney, which had made an 11th-hour agreement to become the host school as required by California Interscholastic Federation bylaw that Sac-Joaquin Section commissioner Pete Saco had pointed out organizers were violating.

That's when the already problematic event died.

Participants decided it didn't make sense to play at 3,700-seat Whitney when they could play at their own stadiums and draw bigger crowds and make more money.

Ponderosa, which was scheduled to play Berkeley at 7 p.m. in the West Coast Classic, is now playing the Yellowjackets in a nonleague game at their own 3,500-seat stadium in Shingle Springs on Saturday night.

The Bruins will dedicate a new $2 million all-weather artificial football field, so they are expecting an overflow crowd.

"All this has worked out well for us," said Ponderosa Athletic Director Tyson Escobar. "By staying on site we are going to make quite a bit more money."

Escobar said once the event was moved from Hughes Stadium to Whitney it killed what had been an intriguing idea.

"Our kids were looking forward to playing at Sacramento City College," he said. "It's a great place for a high school football game, it was going to be the only show in town in Week Zero, and it had some great matchups."

He said getting to play an out-of-section team like Berkeley also was a lure for the Bruins.

"But that's the positive," he said. "We're still playing Berkeley. It's a win, win for us."

But it may be a lose-lose for Caruso and Kelly. Both put many hours into a project, with only bruised egos and lost credibility to show for it.

Caruso says the event was done in by a series of circumstances, some beyond their control, for an enterprise that evolved into something quite different from what they envisioned several months earlier.

Caruso said the original plan was to hold four Sept. 5 games, with Grant, Jesuit, St. Mary's of Stockton, Elk Grove and Whitney among the big draws.

They wanted to pit Grant against Central Section power Clovis West in the top game. But when the Pacers weren't willing to change a scheduled home game against Montgomery of Santa Rosa scheduled the same weekend, Caruso thought it might be better to wait until next year.

"To me having Grant was the key," Caruso said. "They are kind of a magical team. They create a buzz."

But he said Kelly thought they could still pull together a successful event.

There were more problems, though.

They couldn't get Jesuit, St. Mary's or Elk Grove because those schools aren't allowed to play in the so-called Zero Week under section rules (the section season officially begins Sept. 11), and Saco would not grant a waiver.

They pared down to six teams but Caruso said getting the participants and firming up details took time. He agreed it also became more financially risky. They had hoped that Sac City officials would be understanding and give them a break on the up-front rental money.

"Once Sac City decided to play hard ball, that made it really tough," Caruso said. "We figured this was an event Sac City would want."

He said they also were blind-sided by Saco's insistence that a host high school be responsible for the event. That led to Caruso's departure, leaving Kelly to try to patch things together with Whitney officials at the last minute.

"Saco gets involved from out of nowhere," Caruso said. "For six years we've done the hoops benefit (It was Hoops Classic 2009 last winter) for charity, and we never heard about any problems with it. Maybe that's the rule, but everybody's been happy with what we've done with hoops."

But Saco said CIF bylaw 701 D is clear: "Management and control of all finances connected with the activity shall remain with the host high school."

"I've got a bylaw to follow," Saco said.

When in late July Saco contacted Matt Williams, the organizer of the Sept. 12 four-game Battle at the Capital at Folsom High School, and informed him of the rule, Williams was quick to make arrangements with Del Oro to host the event.

"I think it's a great rule," Williams said. "There's got to be accountability."

Saco didn't mince words about the West Coast Classic's problems.

"The reason this fell apart is that it wasn't set up in the proper fashion to begin with," Saco said. "That's the bottom line."

Despite coming out bruised from the experience, both Kelly and Caruso haven't given up on the idea of trying to do a similar showcase next year.

Kelly has already talked to a number of state powers about participating in a 2010 event and says he also has fielded inquiries from out-of-state teams, too.

"I learned a lot from this," Kelly said. "It's really important to communicate not just with the coaches but with the schools involved and the section and state offices. That's one thing we could have done better.

"I still believe our area is a prime place to do this. If you have the right teams, you can fill a place like Hughes Stadium."



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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