November 29, 2009
A video look at Monterey Trail against Burbank in D-I football

The Bee's trusty, reliable JOCK - Junior Observer, Cameron-know-it-all - shoots some video of Monterey Trail-Burbank from Friday's Division I playoff action.

Drake Tofi is No. 37, who rushed for 169 yards. Monterey Trail rushed 60 times for 325 yards out of the veer offense and will host Los Banos on Friday in a D-I semifinal.

November 29, 2009
Burbank graduates a star and returns one for 2010

The Bee's trusted Recon-Recorder - Cameron Davidson - shoots some footage of an outgoing Burbank High School football star and a returning one. Terrance Mitchell (No. 12) is an all-time Titans great who rushed for more than 1,100 yards and scored 22 total touchdowns. He's also a superb defensive back, receiver, leader who will graduate in January and head to Eugene for his scholarship tour at Oregon.

Meanwhile, quarterback, Tu'uta Inoke is just a junior and already very good at the veer-triple option. Here's a peek at both.

November 28, 2009
Folsom football's fireworks show is worth the price of admission

Folsom may not win the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II title this season - powerful Grant still lurks in the four-team field of survivors - but the Bulldogs can lay claim to being one of the most entertaining teams in the area, if not the state.

The foursome of quarterback Dano Graves and receivers/runners Tyler Trosin, Kori Babineaux and Jordan Richards - incredibly all juniors - put on a show operating out of the Bulldogs' dynamic spread offense.

So it's easy to see why the 11-1 Bulldogs will play visiting Del Oro (9-2) in Friday's semifinals and have a legitimate shot at reaching a section final for the first time since 1990.

Graves, the Delta River League MVP, is both an accurate passer in the pocket or on the run who makes superb decisions. He has passed for an all-time section best 49 touchdowns.

Despite 299 attempts, he has completed 76 percent of his passes and thrown only seven interceptions. He's also a tenacious, instinctive runner and leads the team in rushing with 769 yards.

Trosin, Babineaux and Richards are all game-breaker threats who also anchor the Bulldogs' improving defense.

Trosin was marvelous in Friday night's 42-28 win over Granite Bay. He had 13 catches for 150 yards and two touchdowns and rushed eight times for 74 yards and a touchdown.
But it's the way the Delta River League co-Offensive Player of the Year plays that's fun to watch.

He made a full-extension, diving catch in the end zone from 17 yards out for Folsom's first score. There are few high school receivers who could make that type of acrobatic grab, let alone with nearly 4,000 people watching on a rain-slick field.

Trosin seems to catch everything thrown his way, whether in traffic over the middle or on short screens that often wind up being long gains.

He has 75 catches for 1,355 yards and 23 touchdowns. He averages 11.86 yards when he rushes the ball.

Babineaux, a national recruit in basketball, is an athletic, big target who is tough to cover at 6-foot-4. He has 56 catches for 1,051 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Richards seems to explode out of the backfield on runs and short passes. He has 48 catches for 769 yards and eight touchdowns and has rushed for 473 yards and nine touchdowns.

They have a bunch of other young, hard working kids - most of the starters are juniors and sophomores - doing impressive things while running around the field in pads.

So this Friday, pay the $9 (adult admission). It will be worth it.

November 28, 2009
Round III of Sac-Joaquin Section playoff football schedule, with comments

Here's a quickie breakdown of the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs, Round III games, with comments:
(All games Friday, 7 p.m., unless noted)
Division I
No. 8 Los Banos (9-3) at No. 4 Monterey Trail (10-2)
No. 7 Pleasant Grove (9-3) at No. 3 Nevada Union (11-1)
Note: Los Banos is fresh off of the upset of top-seeded Tracy, and it faces a confident, fast, efficient Monterey Trail team that has played superb defense down the stretch. Los Banos has not seen this sort of defensive speed.
PG-NU should be a classic as the host Miners are so hard to beat at home. With ace QB Broughan Jantz leading the way, NU is a scoring machine. Defense headed by Eric Niederberger will have a great challenge in containing all-purpose dynamo Jalen Saunders, fresh off of a 315-yard all-purpose night to beat Vacaville 38-28.

Division II
No. 8 Del Oro (10-2) at No. 4 Folsom (11-1)
No. 3 Grant (12-0) vs. No. 2 Rocklin (12-0) at Folsom, Sat., 7:30 p.m.
Note: You can't really be surprised at these matchups because of the strength of the overall field, and it's certainly no surprise that Grant and Rocklin advanced easily. Del Oro, fresh off its impressive win at St. Mary's, prepares for another fast-strike spread team in Folsom, led by Dano Graves (60 total touchdowns).
Rocklin's balance - and Jackson Cummings - are eager to test Grant's terrific defensive strength and team speed. Cummings vs. Devontae Butler is a tailback showcase.

Division III
No. 5 Oakdale (11-1) at No. 1 Inderkum (12-0)
No. 3 Sierra (11-1) at No. 2 Del Campo (11-1)
Note: Oakdale isn't at all bothered by team speed, at least not judging by how it wiped out a fast and athletic Vanden team 56-14. But Vanden isn't Inderkum, which is even faster, more athletic and more experienced. Not to mention hungry. The Tigers belted Casa Roble 60-6 on Friday.
Sierra edged Benicia in a thriller 40-39, and Del Campo has played superb defense of late behind Keith Sutherland.

Division IV
No. 4 Sonora (10-2) at No. 3 Placer (11-1)
No. 2 Central Catholic (11-1) at No. 1 Modesto Christian (12-0)
Note: So much for the much-anticipated Lincoln-Placer rematch that seemed so fitting (Placer's only loss). But Sonora doesn't suddenly equate to a victory for the red-hot Hillmen.
In the lower bracket, the two heavies expected to meet, with Central having lost only to St. Mary's.

Division V
LeGrand (7-4) vs. Capital Christian (8-3) at Oakmont, Sat., 4 p.m.
Note: Capital Christian has a talented quarterback leader in James Lee and a superb coach in Karl Zierhut. Capital's tough nonleague schedule included losses to Placer and Monterey Trail.

Division VI
Bradshaw Christian (10-1) vs. Brookside Christian (9-2), at Oakmont, Sat., noon.
Note:This was the meeting that was expected, two small-school powers that run the ball exceptionally well. Bradshaw has rushed for 5,000 yards this season - 5,000! - with 61 rushing scores. Brookside crushed Delta 66-7 on Saturday in a semifinal as Shaquille Hill rushed for 336 yards on 18 carries and five scores. Will anyone throw here?

November 28, 2009
Sac High boys play tonight in Nor Cal basketball showcase at Newark

Yes, it's basketball time and one of the first big matchups of the season happens tonight at 8:30 when the Sacramento High boys takes on St. Mary's of Berkeley in the third annual NorCal Tip Off Classic at Newark Memorial High School.

It's part of a seven-game package of games that started at 11 a.m. today.

The Dragons are ranked No. 2 in's preseason rankings; St. Mary's is No. 6.

The Panthers feature the Lee brothers, Dominique (a Utah commit) and Demetrius, along with sophomore Glenn Baral.

Sac is led by senior 5-foot-9 guard Travon Abraham, who has signed with Rice. The Dragons also have 6-8 senior Will Davis and 6-3 juniors Josiah Turner and 6-10 Robert Garrett.

November 28, 2009
Grant-Rocklin prep football showdown of 12-0 teams to be played Saturday night

The Grant-Rocklin high school football showcase showdown will be played on Saturday at Folsom High School - for all to see. It will be a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.

The Sac-Joaquin Section announced when the playoff seedings were released that should these teams meet as 12-0 foes in a Division II semifinal, it would be held at a neutral site. The coaches agreed, wanting to play on an field-turf surface, and in a setting large enough to seat a large crowd.

So it's Folsom, one of the nicest stadiums in the valley.

It's a meeting of the area's top two teams the second half of the regular season - and into the playoffs - and it will be one of the most anticipated meetings in section history. It is rare anywhere in the state for 12-0 teams to meet.

Grant is the defending Open Division state champion, having won 26 consecutive games behind a brutish running game headed by Devontae Butler and an immovable defense that has posted eight shutouts and completely shut down two playoff teams.

Rocklin, on the other hand, is in the midst of its greatest season, using offensive balance and defense. Led by all-purpose threat Jackson Cummings, the Thunder is the only team to beat Nevada Union (11-1), and in Sierra Foothill League play, they downed Granite Bay and Del Oro.

Del Oro just bounced top-seeded and unbeaten St. Mary's.
Del Oro and Folsom will play in another D-II semifinal on Friday, at Folsom, the sudden place to be.

November 27, 2009
What does wild night of prep football playoffs mean? Expect more

What a wild night of football action.

Top seeds fell in Divisions I, II and IV as teams with a combined 33-0 mark were toppled at home.

Goodbye Tracy, which lost to Los Banos, 28-27. Adios St. Mary's which succumbed to Del Oro, 30-29. On to next season for Lincoln, which lost to Sonora, 36-20.
What it means is the strength and depth of the overall fields is superb. There are upsets based on seeding only.

In D-I, for example, No. 7-seeded Pleasant Grove upended No. 2 Vacaville 38-28, but was it really an upset? No, not if you consider how battle-tested the Eagles were coming out of the Delta River League. Pleasant Grove, superbly coached by Joe Cattolico, beat Monterey Trail by a hair, which edged Folsom by an inch.

And no wonder all three are still standing after two rounds of the playoffs. Jalen Saunders returned the opening kickoff 86 yards for a score, ran for a 41-yard touchdown, and Taylor Congdon had two touchdown passes for the Eagles.

Now Pleasant Grove plays at No. 3 Nevada Union, which has played like the top seed in the playoffs, wiping out Napa and Sheldon.

I just talked to Casey Taylor, coach of Del Oro, who raved about his bunch after the stirring 30-29 win at St. Mary's. Bryce Pratt rushed for 154 yards and Max Magleby played well at quarterback, hitting Spencer Butterfield late for a score, and the Golden Eagles had a fourth-down stop to seal it.

Taylor, as good a leader as there is in the section, said his team was not the least bit intimidated by St. Mary's. Absolutely not. For as much as Del Oro had to deal with St. Mary's, the same was true in the reverse. This was no fluke. The better team won. The better team was Del Oro, battle tested from the Sierra Foothill League.

And Folsom beating Granite Bay 42-28 is no upset, either, not with the way Dano Graves has played this season as statistically the most outrageous passer in regional history. He had five more scores to give him a numbing 61 on the season, thanks to a great offensive line and a spread offense that finds a way.

Grant rolled again, as did Rocklin, setting up a showdown of 12-0 cruisers in Round III.
The game will be at a neutral sight, and most likely on Friday. It won't be at Folsom, as the Bulldogs will host Del Oro. It won't be Whitney, as the place can't handle a crowd of 9,000 (maybe more).

It could be Sacramento State, which badly wants this game, though the field is not synthetic (a preferance by coaches Mike Alberghini and Greg Benzel). But it is in very good shape and there isn't supposed to be rain this week. Personally, I'd love to see Del Oro-Folsom on Friday and Grant-Rocklin at Folsom on Saturday, with a monstrous crowd to show off the section product of a very up season in prep football. But could Folsom's stadium handle a crowd of 10,000 or more?

Stay tuned. It gets even better from here.

November 27, 2009
Sac-Joaquin Section playoff scores

A look at some of the Sac-Joaquin Section playoff scores, with some great games.

Division I
Los Banos 28, Tracy 27 (stunner as top seed goes down)
Monterey Trail 22, Burbank 8 (Mustangs rush for 360 yards, will host Los Banos)
Nevada Union 41, Sheldon 7 (3 TDs for Broughan Jantz)
Pleasant Grove 38, Vacaville 28 (Taylor Congdon 2 TD passes, Jalen Saunders 86 KO return, 41 TD run)

Division II
Del Oro 30, St. Mary's 29 (Great effort for Golden Eagles, big games for Pratt, Magleby, and how about the strength of this bracket?)
Folsom 42, Granite Bay 28 (Five TDs for Dano Graves who has 61 total on the year)
Grant 66, Fairfield 12 (Vei Moala three first-half sacks, a TD, Devontae Butler scores 6 times)
Rocklin 35, Atwater 6 (Five TDs for Jackson Cummings, may have lost Lessard for year)

Division III
Inderkum 60, Casa Roble 6 (crunching ouch for Casa, which beat Inderkum in D-III title last year as Demetrius Williams tosses 4 TDs)
Oakdale 56, Vanden 14 (Mustangs devour speed of Vanden, Inderkum next)
Sierra 40, Benicia 39
Del Campo 42, Rio Linda 14 (Cougars hold Cameron Mikell in check, Ryan Dimino 3 TDs)

Division IV
Sonora 36, Lincoln 20 (stunner as top-seeded Zebras lose for the first time)
Placer 43, Calaveras 23 (Hillmen get a third home game now with Zebras loss; Asher Gotzmer 3 TDs)
Modesto Christian 49, Escalon 7 (this was a 21-16 MC win three weeks ago)
Central Catholic 45, Summerville 21 (CC seeks 16th section title)

Division V
Capital Christian 14, Mariposa 0 (Cougars play super D)
Le Grand 28, Highlands 7 (Le Grand vs. CC for title on Saturday)

Division VI
Bradshaw Christian 60, Millinneum 0
Delta vs. Brookside Chrsitian, at Lincoln-Stockton, Saturday, 1 p.m.

November 27, 2009
Breaking down some Bee Player of the Year possibilities

Our trusty, cheap-labor Recon-Recoder asks me (his dad) about Bee Player of the Year candidates heading into Friday's second-round playoff action. By all means, readers, fans, followers are encouraged to offer their thoughts, too.

November 26, 2009
Breaking down four monstrous prep football playoff matchup

Our trusty recon-recorder JOCK - Junior Observer, Cameron-know-it-all - asks his dad (me) about four key section playoff football games.

November 25, 2009
A look inside Burbank football practice - linemen drills

Armed with my trusty sidekick 11-year old son - "JOCK" (Junior Observer, Cameron know-it-all) we got an inside glimpse of Burbank football practice, under the portable lights, as the Titans prepared for Monterey Trail for a Division I playoff game.
Of particular interest is No. 9 in these drills, Andrew Vaefaga, who plays in honor of his school and his mom, who died in her sleep on Nov. 10 of heart failure. He has "RIP Mom" inked into the back of his shoulder pads. Vaefaga vows to continue his hard play hard on the lines and in school because, "that's exactly what she'd expect me to do."
I admire kids - and programs - like this. Kudos to coach John Heffernan.

November 25, 2009
A chat with Burbank football coach John Heffernan

One of the truly terrific coaches in high school football in this region is John Heffernan at Burbank. The Titans have not played a home game since 2007 - their home field is a land-mine for gopher holes - and they deal with all the frustrations as so many city-school programs across the state. But Heffernan finds a way, implementing a study-hall program and using a veer offense that showcases team speed.

November 25, 2009
Latest prep bowl rankings have Grant, Rocklin, Inderkum in the mix

A look at the latest Cal-HiSports/ESPN Northern California bowl rankings. Notice all the local teams, proof positive of an up year for this area.

Division I North
1. (1) Grant (Sacramento) 11-0 def. Tokay 65-0
2. (2) De La Salle (Concord) 9-2 def. American (Fremont) 44-0
3. (4) Nevada Union (Grass Valley) 10-1 def. Napa 62-12
4. (3) Bellarmine Prep (San Jose) 9-1-1 def. Palo Alto 34-6
5. (5) Tracy 11-0 def. Enochs (Modesto) 55-24
6. (6) Deer Valley (Antioch) 11-0 def. Newark Memorial 34-3
7. (8) Granite Bay 9-2 def. Sacramento 56-0
8. (12) Folsom 10-1 def. Woodcreek (Roseville) 42-7
9. (9) Vacaville 10-1 def. Davis (Modesto) 49-0
10. (10) Monte Vista (Danville) 8-3 def. Heritage 63-37
11. (13) Berkeley 10-1 def. San Leandro 38-3
12. (14) Monterey Trail (Elk Grove) 9-2 def. Pitman (Turlock) 59-21
13. (15) Serra (San Mateo) 6-5 def. Pioneer (San Jose) 38-21
14. (7) Amador Valley (Pleasanton) 8-3* lost to College Park 34-21
15. (NR) Pittsburg 7-4 def. San Ramon Valley (Danville) 27-7

On the bubble: College Park (Pleasant Hill) 6-5, Fairfield 9-2, Foothill (Pleasanton) 7-4, Heritage (Brentwood) 7-4*, Lincoln (Stockton) 8-3*, Milpitas 9-2, Pleasant Grove (Elk Grove) 8-3, San Benito (Hollister) 9-2, San Ramon Valley (Danville) 6-5*, Sheldon (Sacramento) 8-3.

Breakdown: While most observers in the North can't wait until next week's games, there are really good matches this week. Bellarmine Prep and Serra of San Mateo battled mightily earlier this year with the Bells barely prevailing, 23-21. The two will square off again Friday night at San Jose City College in the Central Coast Section Open Division semifinals. De La Salle of Concord prevailed over Foothill of Pleasanton three weeks ago, 33-7, and the Falcons have a chance to fix things before Friday's rematch at DLS. Then there is the battle in the Sac-Joaquin Section between 9-2 Granite Bay and 10-1 Folsom at Folsom with the winner probably drawing St. Mary's of Stockton. One team getting bowl eligible will be guaranteed on Thursday as Lincoln and Galileo will play in the San Francisco Section championship Turkey Day game starting at 11 a.m. at Kezar Stadium.

Division II North
1. (1) Rocklin 11-0 def. Elk Grove 35-7
2. (4) Del Oro (Loomis) 10-1 def. Christian Brothers (Sac.) 42-13
3. (3) Inderkum (Sacramento) 11-0 def. Rodriguez (Fairfield) 47-7
4. (5) St. Francis (Mountain View) 8-3 def. Palma (Salinas) 45-7
5. (2) Archbishop Mitty (SJ) 9-1-1* lost to Valley Christian 22-17
6. (6) Encinal (Alameda) 10-1 def. Sonoma Valley 28-0
7. (7) Paradise 10-1 def. Foothill (Palo Cedro) 31-0
8. (8) Lincoln 11-0 def. Livingston 49-15
9. (9) Sierra (Manteca) 10-1 def. Mira Loma (Sacramento) 59-6
10. (10) Del Campo (Fair Oaks) 10-1 def. Pioneer (Woodland) 36-0

On the bubble: Casa Roble (Orangevale) 6-4, Bella Vista (Fair Oaks) 7-4*, Enterprise (Redding) 10-1, Foothill (Palo Cedro) 7-5*, Los Gatos 8-3, Manteca 7-4*, Novato 8-3, Oakdale 10-1, Palo Alto 7-2-2*, Petaluma 11-0, Placer (Auburn) 10-1, Sonora 9-2,Vanden (Travis AFB) 10-1, Whitney (Rocklin) 7-4*.

Breakdown: There always seems to be one team that gets upset in the first round of many playoffs and often it's a team that beat its opponent earlier, allowing that foe to adjust. That's especially true when one team shuts out the other, as Archbishop Mitty of San Jose did against Valley Christian of San Jose (21-0) in West Catholic League play. In the CCS playoff opener, however, the Warriors reversed that result with a 22-17 win. On the flip side, St. Francis of Mountain View scored an impressive 45-7 win over a very talented Palma of Salinas side that defeated the Lancers, 31-14, earlier. Of course, that means St. Francis and Valley Christian get to square off Saturday at San Jose City College. Remember that St. Francis pounded Valley Christian by 41-21 the first time around. Mitty's loss brings up the possibility of the CIF commissioners potentially choosing between a three-loss St. Francis team that won a much stronger playoff division (CCS Open) against an unbeaten Inderkum (which is in the much weaker Sac-Joaquin D3 bracket).
Another potentially close game sees No. 4 Del Oro of Loomis traveling to Div. III front-runner St. Mary's of Stockton, which is the No. 1 seed in the Sac-Joaquin Section's Div. II playoffs, on Friday night. No. 7 Paradise and Enterprise meet again for the Northern Section Division I title Friday night at Paradise and it should be closer than the 49-13 Paradise romp last time.

Division III North
1. (1) St. Mary's (Stockton) 11-0 def. Buhach Colony 49-7
2. (3) Central Catholic (Modesto) 10-1 def. Argonaut (Jackson) 52-24
3. (4) Marin Catholic (Kentfield) 10-1 def. Terra Linda (San Rafael) 56-12
4. (5) Valley Christian (SJ) 8-3 def. Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 22-17
5. (6) Escalon 10-1 def. Hilmar 38-21
6. (2) Palma (Salinas) 8-2-1* lost to St. Francis (Mountain View) 45-7
7. (10) Carmel 10-0 def. Scotts Valley 61-28
8. (7) Sutter 9-2 def. Central Valley (Shasta Lake) 23-12
9. (8) St. Mary's (Berkeley) 8-2 Bye
10. (9) Salesian (Richmond) 10-1 def. Willits 45-0

On the bubble: Cardinal Newman (Santa Rosa) 7-4, Cloverdale 9-2*, Fort Bragg 9-2, Fortuna 8-3, Hilmar 8-3*, King's Academy (Sunnyvale) 9-2*, Menlo School (Atherton) 8-3, Middletown 10-1, Ripon 7-4*, Sacred Heart Prep (Atherton) 8-3, Seaside 8-2-1, Summerville 10-1, Wheatland 8-3*.

Breakdown: Now St. Mary's faces the gauntlet, opening with a very strong Del Oro (Loomis) team this week in the SJS D2 playoffs. The Rams will have no more easy games, but that doesn't mean they aren't up to the challenge. You could almost sense that Palma (Salinas) was in trouble in the Central Coast Section playoffs where the top eight teams go into the Open Division, regardless of enrollment. Makes for some great games but heartbreak, too. Valley Christian's big win over Mitty earned the club a game against that St. Francis team that beat Palma. Sutter battles Lassen for the Northern Section title Friday night after snow postponed their semifinal win over Anderson for 24 hours. That's why the Northern Section finishes so early. Carmel makes a big jump because the Padres have averaged 59.1 points a game over the past six weeks and are not so quietly moving into -dare we say it - bowl contention. Unlike Palma and Valley Christian, Carmel is not in the CCS Open Division and instead plays more to its level in the CCS Div. IV playoffs.
There was some thought to even putting Carmel ahead of Palma in these rankings since the Chieftains are now done for the season. That thought lasted just a few seconds. Carmel probably could not beat bigger schools like San Benito that Palma has beaten. Still, if you can look ahead and see St. Mary's not winning in its section playoff and see the same for all of the others down to Carmel (very possible) the idea of the Padres getting a serious look at a D3 state bowl bid is not far-fetched at all. Of course, this means Carmel goes unbeaten and wins its section title and that may not be that easy, either.
This week's foe, The King's Academy, is led by one of the top junior running backs in Northern California, Amir Carlisle.

Small Schools North
1. (1) Modesto Christian 11-0 def. Colfax 64-7
2. (2) Ferndale 10-0 Bye
3. (3) Modoc (Alturas) 10-0 def. Hamilton (Hamilton City) 39-22
4. (4) Portola 11-0 def. Quincy 41-20
5. (5) Bradshaw Christian (Sacramento) 9-1 Bye
6. (8) Capital Christian (Sac.) 7-3 Bye
7. (6) St. Francis (Watsonville) 6-4-1* lost to King's Academy 22-18
8. (7) Fall River (McArthur) 10-2* def. Maxwell 28-22
9. (NR) Valley Christian (Dublin) 6-5 def. Cloverdale 35-25
10. (NR) Hoopa Valley (Hoopa) 9-2 Forfeit win vs. Anderson Valley

On the bubble: Burney 7-4*, Colusa 8-4, East Nicolas (Nicolas) 6-4*, Hamilton (Hamilton City) 9-3*, Hoopa Valley (Hoopa) 9-2, Maxwell 8-4*, Quincy 8-4*, St. Vincent (Petaluma) 8-3, Vacaville Christian 6-5*.

Breakdown: Fall River (McArthur) became the state's first section champion with its 28-22 victory last Friday over Maxwell. Other championships in the Northern Section this week will be in four divisions and two of them will be played on Thanksgiving Eve. At least Hamilton (Hamilton City) won't have to wait three weeks like it did last year to play in the inaugural Small School Bowl game at Carson because the Braves lost to No. 3 Modoc, which faces No. 4 Portola on Thanksgiving Eve in the Northern Div. V championships. If things go right (or wrong, depending on which side you're on), the winner of that game might be the one awaiting for a belated Bowl bid.
If neither Modesto Christian or Ferndale get through their section playoffs, the small school bowl bid in this division also could come down to Sac-Joaquin Section teams Bradshaw Christian and Capital Christian. While Bradshaw has a better record, Capital Christian's losses are to Modesto Christian, Monterey Trail (D1 North) and Placer of Auburn (D2 North).
The Cougars also have a win over D2 North Bear River (Lake of the Pines). The two teams are in different section playoff division as well, but Capital is in Sac-Joaquin Division V while Bradshaw is in Division VI. The sad reality for the bowl games is that neither one is close to Modesto Christian but both teams may have a better shot at playing in Carson that do the No. 1 Crusaders.

November 24, 2009
NorCal first round: El Camino can't keep up with Drake; CB, SF and NU all advance

Click to see the updated brackets

Over the last week and a half the El Camino High School girls volleyball team has thrived in the role of underdog after knocking off perennial section power Del Oro in the second round of the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs. The Eagles used that mentality to roll through Sonora and St. Mary's-Stockton on the way to the program's first-ever section championship.

Which meant in Tuesday's CIF NorCal playoff opener the third-seeded Eagles were now the favorite and hosting the school's first-ever state volleyball playoff match.

Sir Francis Drake-San Anselmo wasn't intimidated. Not in the least.

The Pirates came out firing and in the process took the large, boisterous pro-El Camino crowd out of it early and rolled to a four-set victory 3-1 (25-17, 24-26, 25-10, 25-15).

"They were a lot faster than we were," Eagles coach Martin Soyama said. "We never once got a rhythm going."

Drake utilized its speedy offense -- even their passes were low line drives to the setter -- to jump out to a 4-0 lead before the Eagles could even blink. That speed opened seams in El Camino's block and Pirates attackers were able to tee off.

"We're always trying to go as fast as possible," Pirates coach Neil Davidson said.

The Eagles' back-row defense was equal to the task on many occasions, extending several long rallies, but eventually Drake's hitters were able to spot open patches of floor and terminate.

"It's tough when there's nothing there to even slow the ball down," El Camino libero Lainey Gordon said.

Drake jumped out to another 4-0 lead in the second set before a Natalie Riddering kill gave the Eagles a chance to regroup. The Pirates' lead ballooned to 9-3 before they started committing errors which El Camino was able to take advantage of. Drake's Lexie Parker hit out of bounds to give the Eagles their first lead of the match at 11-10.

The Pirates led the second set late at 20-16 but the Eagles, led by kills from Riddering and Alayna Robie closed on a 10--4 run to claim their only set victory.

The only other lead the Eagles enjoyed all night came early in the fourth set when back-to-back aces from junior setter Bridget Herenda gave them a 3-1 advantage. From there, however, the Pirates pillaged their way to another easy set victory.

Division I

Second-seeded Nevada Union claimed a four-set victory over unseeded Lincoln-San Francisco 3-1 (25-23, 20-25, 25-20, 27-25) and will face third-seeded Salinas on Saturday. It will be the sixth time this decade the Miners will play in a NorCal semifinal.

Top-seeded Oak Ridge, owner of the state's lone bye, learned that it will face fourth-seeded Amador Valley-Pleasanton in Saturday's other D-I semifinal as the Dons downed Menlo-Atherton on Tuesday night.

Division II

Unseeded Rocklin gave fourth-seeded Petaluma all it could handle, but fell in five sets in its first-round match 3-2 (25-22, 19-25, 23-25, 25-21, 15-3). Corissa Santos led the Thunder with 21 kills while Katelyn Ivy added 15. Morgan Smith had 50 assists.

"We had opportunities and we just didn't get it done," Thunder coach Dave Muscarella said. "But our league and our section prepare us well for these types of matches.

"All in all I think we can compete with just about anybody."

On the other side of the bracket No. 3 seed St. Francis made quick work of visiting unseeded Redwood-Larkspur in three sets 3-0 (25-21, 25-16, 25-21). The Troubadours will host second-seeded Palo Alto in a NorCal semifinal on Saturday.

Division IV

Top-seeded Christian Brothers rolled unseeded Sutter 3-0 (25-7, 25-17, 25-21) as Erika Cuevas led the way with 15 kills while Katie Hoekman and Sarah Biondi added nine apiece. The defending NorCal champions will host Sacred Heart Prep-Atherton on Saturday.

Division V

Unseeded East Nicolaus was able to take a set from top-seeded Branson-Ross but ultimately came up short, losing its first-round match 3-1 (25-10, 14-25, 25-13, 25-16).

Bradshaw Christian was swept by No. 2 seed Mt. Madonna-Watsonville 3-0 (25-21, 25-13, 25-17).

November 24, 2009
NorCal volleyball playoff primer

Division I

Who should win: No. 1 seed Oak Ridge (27-11)
With the only bye in the entire state playoffs the Trojans have the shortest road to state and some say the easiest. Regardless of the difficulty Oak Ridge is already assured of at least tying for the furthest round reached by one of its volleyball teams as last year's squad reached the NorCal semifinals. The Trojans aren't content to match last year's explosive squad, they want to surpass it.

Who could win: No. 2 seed Nevada Union (34-10)
The Miners navigated the section playoffs on the road nearly unscathed until running into the Trojans at UC Davis last Thursday. They'll have to do so again if they're to reach their fourth state championship match this decade as, despite holding the two seed, they must play on the road because they didn't win the section.

No. 4 seed Amador Valley-Pleasanton (29-7)
The Dons played a relatively tough schedule, with appearances in the Milpitas Spikefest I and the St. Francis-Mountain View Invitational.

Dark horses: Lincoln-S.F. (31-5), Menlo-Atherton (21-8)

SoCal favorites: No. 1 seed Dos Pueblos-Goleta (30-2), No. 2 seed La Costa Canyon-Carlsbad (28-5)

Division II

Who should win: No. 1 seed Archbishop Mitty-San Jose (36-0)
The Monarchs are the No. 1 team in the country for good reason. Talented, well-coached and owners of a 66-match winning streak dating back to September of last year.

Who could win: No. 3 seed St. Francis (37-6)
Any other division in any other year and the Troubadours would probably be title favorites. As it stands they're the third seed and must go through all-powerful Mitty if they are to reach their second state championship match. St. Francis has not lost a regulation five-set match since the second round of the Mitty Invite to ... you guessed it, the Monarchs.

No. 2 seed Palo Alto (36-4)
The Vikings have an imposing force in 6-foot-5 sophomore middle blocker Melanie Wade but not much height surrounding her.

Dark horses: Pleasant Valley-Chico (31-8), Rocklin (32-8)

SoCal favorites: No. 1 seed Redlands East Valley (31-3), No. 3 seed Elsinore (30-2)

Division III

Who should win: No. 1 seed Bishop O'Dowd-Oakland (35-8)
The Dragons have put together an impressive résumé with wins over seven NorCal playoff qualifiers including defending D-III champion Sacred Heart Cathedral.

Who could win: No. 2 seed Sacred Heart Cathedral-S.F. (27-11)
The Fightin' Irish seeks its third consecutive NorCal title, something only Archbishop Mitty and Menlo has been able to accomplish this decade.

No. 3 seed El Camino (32-6)
The 'Underbirds' have thrived in the underdog role since downing Del Oro in the second round of the section playoffs, rolling to sweeps at Sonora and over St. Mary's in last Thursday's final.

Dark horses: Valley Christian-San Jose (29-9), St. Mary's-Stockton (21-9)

SoCal favorites: No. 1 seed Cathedral Catholic-San Diego (27-7), No. 2 seed Los Altos-Hacienda Heights (20-7)

Division IV

Who should win: No. 1 seed Christian Brothers (27-9)
The Falcons survived a five-set scare from Ripon in the section final, defeating the Indians for the third straight year. Christian Brothers' overall body of work was enough for the CIF to reward it with home court advantage until the state finals, something the Falcons have had only once before -- 2006 when it made its first state championship appearance.

Who could win: No. 3 seed Ripon (37-10)
The Indians have to smarting after letting a 9-5 lead in the fifth set slip away during Thursday's section final at UC Davis. Ripon has shown its mettle in the state playoffs though, last year traveling to top-seeded Menlo and knocking off the Knights in five sets.

No. 4 seed Sacred Heart Prep-Atherton (22-10)
The Gators have an experienced team with 11 upper-classmen on the roster and a balanced attack with four players over 100 kills on the season.

Dark horses:
No. 2 seed Salesian-Richmond (26-7), Marin Catholic-Kentfield (29-11)

SoCal favorites: No. 1 seed La Jolla Country Day (31-1), No. 2 seed The Bishop's School-La Jolla (28-8)

Division V

Who should win: No. 2 seed Mt. Madonna-Watsonville (24-6)
The Hawks have state championship experience in setter Erin Mitchell, libero Soma Sharan and middle blocker Zoe Bostick and have the most impressive resume in the D-V field, including two wins over defending state champion Castilleja-Palo Alto.

Who could win: No. 1 seed Branson-Ross (31-5)
The Hawks are known as more of a basketball school, but this year the volleyball team is enjoying its finest volleyball season in years behind the one-two punch of outside hitters Alex Schoenberger (409 kills) and Kathleen Wallace (337 kills).

No. 4 seed Castilleja-Palo Alto (17-12)
The Gators return six players from last year's state championship squad but to get to their fifth state final in four years they must get it done on the road as they are fifth in seed priority by virtue of losing the Central Coast Section title match to Mt. Madonna.

Dark horses:
No. 3 seed Hamilton-Hamilton City (36-5), Ripon Christian (17-16)

SoCal favorites: No. 1 seed Tri City Christian-Vista (21-14), No. 2 seed Mission Prep-San Luis Obispo (26-6)

November 22, 2009
Oak Ridge, Christian Brothers earn top seeds for NorCal volleyball playoffs

For the first time in four years two Capital Region volleyball programs were rewarded with top seeds in the CIF NorCal volleyball playoffs. Sac-Joaquin Section Division I champion Oak Ridge received the No. 1 seed in that bracket while D-IV champion Christian Brothers grabbed the top seed in its bracket.

The last time two Sacramento-area programs earned top seeds for the NorCal playoffs was 2005 when Nevada Union earned the top seed in D-I while St. Francis rode its No. 1 seed in D-III all the way to the area's only state volleyball championship.

Oak Ridge (27-11) is also the recipient of the state's only bye as it will wait until Saturday to face the winner of Menlo Atherton (21-8) and third-seeded Amador Valley-Pleasanton (27-9) who play each other when the NorCal playoffs begin on Tuesday at 7 p.m. This marks the third year in a row the Sac-Joaquin Section's D-I champion has received the No. 1 seed as Nevada Union had it in 2007 and 2008.

The Trojans' automatic berth into the NorCal semifinals already ties the furthest any Oak Ridge team has ever gone as last year's squad also made the semis.

D-I section runner-up Nevada Union (34-10) travels to San Francisco Section champion and fourth-seeded Lincoln (31-5) for a first-round match on Tuesday night.

St. Francis (37-6), which swept Rocklin in Thursday's D-II section final, received the No. 3 seed in the D-II bracket behind national No. 1 Archbishop Mitty-San Jose and Palo Alto.

St. Francis opens with Redwood-Larkspur (26-7) on Tuesday and should the Troubadours advance to the semis against Palo Alto they would host due to the fact that Palo Alto lost the Central Coast Section title match to Mitty. Section champions are given priority in hosting.

Rocklin (32-8) will open the NorCal playoffs by traveling to North Coast Section champion and No. 4 seed Petaluma (26-8) when they begin on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The last time the Thunder was in the NorCal playoffs in 2007, it upset Maria Carrillo-Santa Rosa in the first round before falling to Mitty in the NorCal semifinals.

El Camino (32-6), fresh off its first-ever volleyball section championship, is the No. 3 seed in D-III and will take on NCS runner-up Sir Francis Drake-San Anselmo (32-5) in a first-round match on Tuesday night.

Last-year's D-IV state runner-up Christian Brothers (27-9) is the top seed in that bracket and hosts Northern Section runner-up Sutter (36-4) in Tuesday's first round.

Section D-V runner-up Bradshaw Christian (25-11), also making its first-ever appearance in the NorCal playoffs, will face CCS champion and No. 2 seed Mt. Madonna-Watsonville (24-6), which won the 2007 D-V state title, on Tuesday.

East Nicolaus (23-7), the NS's runner-up, is tasked with traveling to top-seeded Branson-Ross (31-5) in Tuesday's first round.

Click here to view the brackets

November 22, 2009
How the Top 25 ranked teams in the state fared

A look at the Cal-Hi Sports/ESPN State Top 25 scoreboard.

1. Oaks Christian (Westlake Village) 11-0 def. Santa Ynez, 70-14
2. Grant (Sacramento) 11-0 def. Tokay (Lodi), 65-0
3. Crenshaw (Los Angeles) 10-0 def. Birmingham (Lake Balboa), 42-6
4. Oceanside 10-0 BYE in 1st round of San Diego Sec D2 playoffs
5. Edison (Huntington Beach) 11-0 def. Millikan (Long Beach), 59-14
6. Lakewood 10-1 def. Newport Harbor (Newport Beach), 41-17
7. De La Salle (Concord) 9-2 def. American (Fremont), 44-0
8. St. Mary's (Stockton) 11-0 def. Buhach Colony (Atwater),49-7
9. Mission Viejo 11-0 def. Wilson (Long Beach), 41-14
10. Servite (Anaheim) 10-1 def. San Clemente, 38-10
11. Norco 10-1 def. Carter (Rialto), 48-14
12. Westlake (Westlake Village) 11-0 def. Ventura, 49-27
13. Serra (Gardena) 11-0 def. Oak Park (Agoura Hills), 54-6
14. St. Bonaventure (Ventura) 10-1 def. Oxnard, 35-7
15. Redlands East Valley (Redlands) 11-0 def. La Sierra (Riv.), 41-13
16. La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad) BYE in 1st round of San Diego D1 playoffs
17. Buchanan (Clovis) 11-0 def. Central (Fresno), 56-20
18. Bishop Amat (La Puente) 10-1 def. Mater Dei (Santa Ana), 28-21
19. Valencia 11-0 def. Thousand Oaks, 28-27
20. Rocklin 11-0 def. Elk Grove, 35-7
21. Vista Murrieta (Murrieta) 11-0 def. Santiago (Corona), 38-17
22. Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 9-1-1 lost to Valley Chr. (SJ), 22-17
23. Moorpark 10-1 def. Canyon (Canyon Country), 30-0
24. Bullard (Fresno) 11-0 def. Hoover (Fresno), 35-13
25. Bellarmine (San Jose) 9-1-1 def. Palo Alto, 34-6

November 21, 2009
Granite Bay will be ultimate test for Folsom's suspect run defense

Tom Doherty was among those watching with keen interest Folsom's 42-7 win over Woodcreek Friday night in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoff opener.

Doherty was the Folsom coach back when the Bulldogs were a small-school force.

Renowned for his gruff persona, Doherty led Folsom to back-to-back section titles, the D-III championship 14-13 over Galt in 1989 and the D-II crown 10-7 in overtime against Sonora in 1990.

Folsom's win Friday was its first football playoff victory since that 1990 season.

It also put the 10-1 Bulldogs into Friday's quarterfinals against area heavyweight Granite Bay (9-2), a perennial playoff power under coach Ernie Cooper.

While Doherty loves Folsom's dynamic spread offense, he's an old-school guy when it comes to defense. He'll take a 7-0 shutout to a 42-7 blowout any day.

So he could only second what current Folsom coach Kris Richardson said in an interview earlier in the day - the Bulldogs have to do a better job of stopping the run.

While Folsom played its best defensive game of the season against the Timberwolves, it only reinforced the belief that they aren't stout run defenders.

Toss out two big yardage losers on botched field goal attempts and Woodcreek rushed for 260 yards and had 10 runs of 9 yards or longer, although the Timberwolves couldn't penetrate Folsom's end zone until late in the game.

Woodcreek star James Nunley rushed for 109 yards in the first half before a nagging shoulder injury forced him out of the game at halftime. Back-up Blake Cervantes had 101 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.

It was a horrid passing game (4 for 19 for 53 yards, two interceptions) that did in the Timberwolves.

So Friday's game against Granite Bay will be the ultimate test for Folsom and its improving but still suspect defense.

The Grizzlies offer a heaping of offensive diversity and stack up as arguably the toughest team the Bulldogs have had to face this season.

Granite Bay has one of the area's most potent running attacks. Its fly offense averages 261 yards a game. Toss in a competent passing attack that averages another 138 yards and the Bulldogs' defenders could find themselves on the field most of the night while touchdown machine Dano Graves watches from the sidelines.

"It'd like us to be a little more physical against the run," Richardson said. "We need our defense to just get us the ball. Once we're ahead, we know people won't be able to catch up."

November 21, 2009
Sac-Joaquin Section playoff scoreboard, Round II schedule, comments

Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs
Opening round

Division I
Tracy 55, Enochs 24
Los Banos 27, Modesto 26 (OT)
Burbank 25, Lincoln-S 23
Monterey Trail 59, Pitman 21
Nevada Union 62, Napa 12
Sheldon 20, Oak Ridge 17
Pleasant Grove 28, Franklin-EG 7
Vacaville 49, Grace Davis 0

Quarterfinals (all games Friday, 7 p.m.)
Los Banos (8-3) at Tracy (11-0)
Burbank (7-4) at Monterey Trail (9-2)
Sheldon (8-3) at Nevada Union (10-1)
Pleasant Grove (8-3) at Vacaville (10-1)

Note: The games should get tighter now, and expect a great show between Burbank and Monterey Trail. The Titans run the triple-option and the Mustangs go with the veer, two offenses you just don't see any more. What's more the coaches - John Heffernan of Burbank and T.J. Ewing of Monterey Trail - are old friends and playing rivals from their days in San Mateo.
Old coaching friends meet again as Ed Lombardi takes his upset-minded Sheldon bunch to Grass Valley to take on Nevada Union and Dave Humphers. And Plesant Grove-Vacaville should be a high-scoring affair.

Division II
St. Mary's 49, Buhach Colony 7
Del Oro 42, Christian Brothers 13
Granite Bay 56, Sacramento 0
Folsom 42, Woodcreek 7
Grant 65, Tokay 0
Fairfield 45, Rosemont 17
Atwater 18, Stagg 13
Rocklin 35, Elk Grove 7

Quarterfianls (all games Friday, 7 p.m.)
Del Oro (9-2) at St. Mary's (11-0)
Granite Bay (9-2) at Folsom (10-1)
Fairfield (9-2) at Grant (11-0)
Atwater (8-3) at Rocklin (11-0)

Note: Del Oro has the mother of all challenges in trying to slow down and contain St. Mary's and that prolific spread offense machine. Then again, St, Mary's has to make stops on a run game that features Bryce Pratt. Should be a very good game.
So will Granite Bay-Folsom, as the Grizzlies will look to run the ball to keep the Bulldogs spread scoring machine off the field. Dano Graves has 54 total touchdowns. Grant and Fairfield may be a shootout, too, unless Grant's defense happens to be the most ferocious thing Fairfield has experienced. Fairfield did outlast Monterey Trail in an opening-week shootout, and Monterey Trail responded with four shutouts .

Division III
Inderkum 47, Rodriguez 7
Casa Roble 35, Manteca 28
Oakdale 36, Natomas 0
Vanden 48, Yuba City 14
Sierra 59, Mira Loma 6
Benicia 26, Patterson 20 (OT)
Rio Linda 35, Bella Vista 26
Del Campo 36, Pioneer 0

Quarterfinals (all games Friday, 7 p.m.)
Casa Roble (7-4) at Inderkum (11-0)
Oakdale (10-1) at Vanden (10-1)
Benicia (9-2) at Sierra (10-1)
Rio Linda (9-2) at Del Campo (10-1)

Note: Inderkum has been motivated to return to the D-III finals after losing a hearbreaker to Casa Roble in the championship last season. And look who is coming for dinner Friday? The Tigers get their chance at sweet revenge.
Oakdale-Vanden is an interesting matchup, as is the running of Cameron Mikell against the defense of Del Campo, which has played great down the stretch.

Division IV
Lincoln-L 49, Livingston 15
Sonora 20, Whitney 7
Placer 57, Foothill 20
Calaveras 18, Dixon 14
Modesto Christian 64, Colfax 7
Escalon 38, Hilmar 21
Summerville 33, Ripon 0
Central Catholic 52, Argonaut 24

Quarterfinals (all games Friday, 7 p.m.)
Sonora (9-2) at Lincoln (11-0)
Calaveras (7-4) at Placer (10-1)
Escalon (10-1) at Modesto Christian (11-0)
Summerville (10-1) at Central Catholic (10-1)

Note: This bracket took a hit of unpredictability when Calaveras stunned No. 2 Dixon, allowing No. 3 Placer to host a second game. Sonora-Lincoln is also a curious meeting as Sonora just eliminated defending champion Whitney.

Division V
Mariposa 34, Lindhurst 0
Highlands 24, Denair 21

Semifinals (All games Friday, 7 p.m.)
Mariposa (6-5) at Capital Christian (7-3)
Highlands (6-5) at Le Grand (6-4)

Note: Capital Christian is the clear favorite here, and it just had a bye. Highlands won its first home playoff game since 1985 but it gets brutal from here.

Division VI
Delta 39, Big Valley Chr. 8

Semifinals (all games Friday, 7 p.m.)
Vacaville Christian/Millennium at Bradshaw Christian
Delta at Brookside Christian

Note: Resting for the title repeat run is Bradshaw Christian, which leads the state in rushing with nearly 5,000 yards. Delta and coach Bob Lee are in the otehr semifinal with a team that runs pretty well, too.

November 20, 2009
Sac-Joaquin Section football playoff scores, Round I

Here's a look at some of the Sac-Joaquin Section Playoffs
Week 1
Division I
Nevada Union 62, Napa 12
Tracy 55, Enochs 24
Los Banos 27, Modesto 26
Burbank 25, Lincoln-Stockton 23
Monterey Trail 59, Pitman 21
Sheldon 20, Oak Ridge 17
Pleasant Grove 28, Franklin 7
Vacaville 49, Grace Davis 0

Note: Two mild surprises here if you base things on seeding with Sheldon rallying to beat Oak Ridge in El Dorado Hills. Oak Ridge had not lost since Week 3 against Grant. Burbank, a week after a strong showing against Grant, beat Lincoln-Stockton to set up a great matchup at Monterey Trail in Round II. Eric Niedeberger had four scores for NU, which continues to roll (and continues to batter Napa when the teams play in the playoffs).

Division II
Grant 65, Tokay 0
St. Mary's 49, Buhach Colony 0
Del Oro 42, CBS 13
Granite Bay 56, Sacramento 0
Folsom 42, Woodcreek 7
Fairfield 45, Rosemont 17
Atwater 18, Stagg 13
Rocklin 35, Elk Grove 7

Note: All the heavies rolled, as expected. The wind and rain was not an issue because there was no wind and rain after kickoff. Grant defense was superb, as was Devontae Butler with 201 yards on 15 carries.

Division III
Inderkum 47, Rodriguez 7
Vanden 48, Yuba City 14
Del Campo 36, Pioneer 0
Casa Roble 35, Manteca 28
Oakdale 36, Natomas 0
Sierra 59, Mira Loma 6

Note: Great rally and win for Casa Roble, the defending champion, at Manteca.

Division IV
Lincoln 49, Livingston 15
Sonora 20, Whitney 7
Placer 50, Foothill 14
Calaveras 18, Dixon 14
Modesto Christian 64, Colfax 7

Note: There will be a new champion in D-IV as Whitney fell at Sonora. And the upset here was Calaveras winning at Dixon.

November 20, 2009
Oak Ridge snaps Nevada Union's run, becomes first school to win titles in three divisions

The end didn't come with a bang, but rather a whimper.

Nevada Union, for the past eight seasons the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I girls volleyball kingpin, is no longer a defending champion. That honor instead goes to Oak Ridge, the defending D-II champs who came into The Pavilion at UC Davis and handed the Miners their first section playoff loss in a decade.

"I could not be more proud of my Oak Ridge family," said Trojans coach Becky Potter, who in two years has them to two titles.

Oak Ridge is now the first school in the section's history to win volleyball titles in three different divisions as the Trojans won the D-III crown in 2002 and D-II titles in 2005 and 2008.

The Trojans were able to stifle the double-barrel outside attack of junior Ellie Selleck and the Miners' lone senior Abbie Miraldi while utilizing its own formidable outside duo of Kayla Berringer and Katie Vaughn.

The teams split their prior two meetings with Oak Ridge claiming a four-set home victory on Sept. 30 while the Miners swept the Trojans in the semifinals of the St. Francis Super 8 on Halloween.

"Two months ago we wouldn't have won that third set, and it would have gone four or five," Potter said. "Now they refuse to lose and I couldn't ask for anything more."

Photo: Oak Ridge senior middle blocker Sarah Horning and junior outside hitter Katie Vaughn block a swing from Nevada Union sophomore middle Jenna Britton during the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I girls volleyball championship match on Thursday night at the UC Davis Pavilion. Photo courtesy of Drew Horning.

November 20, 2009
Farewell to regular season: Crabtree has monster game for Center

With the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section football playoffs to kick off tonight, we wanted to mention a standout performance that failed to be reported to us during last week's final round of regular-season play.

Center senior running back Dylan Crabtree rushed for 342 yards and all four touchdowns on 44 carries in Center's 28-21 win over Cosumnes Oaks.

Crabtree finished the season with 1,329 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns. Center, which finished 3-7, did not advance to the postseason.

November 19, 2009
Experience, poise carry St. Francis to 10th section title

Nerves can be a funny thing.

No one is immune to them, but in certain situations teams rise to the occasion, while others can be consumed by them.

Such was the case on Thursday night as St. Francis seized the moment, and momentum, in sweeping Rocklin in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II girls volleyball championship match, 3-0 (26-24, 25-13, 25-21) at The Pavilion on the campus of UC Davis. The win gives St. Francis its 10th volleyball section title and marked the third straight year the Troubadours defeated Rocklin in the section playoffs and the second in a title match.

"We've worked really hard this year," said senior outside hitter Kacey Clark, who had eight kills. "Everyone is on the same page and we know what we're capable of."

Clark's service lifted the Troubadours, who erased an 18-15 deficit late in the first set to take it 26-24, in the second set as she served up three aces as part of a 10-0 run that inflated their lead from 6-3 to 16-3, effectively taking any momentum Rocklin had and putting it on the St. Francis side of the net.

"It's disappointing because we were playing so well," Thunder coach Dave Muscarella said. "The pressure of this game got to some of our younger players."

Pressure is something the Troubadours know all too well. Last year, coming off a thrilling win in the semifinals at Rocklin, St. Francis was riding high on emotion only to have sharp tack by the name of Oak Ridge burst its bubble with a convincing sweep in the section final. In the ensuing year, St. Francis coach Alynn Wright said, her Troubadours have done a lot of growing.

Particularly the middles, juniors Mary Clark and Zoe Nightingale.

"They're both such great competitors," Wright said. "They push each other every day to be that much better."

Clark and Nightingale were stellar once again Thursday night, patrolling the net and keeping the Thunder's sophomore outside duo of Katelyn Ivy and Cailyn Prewitt for the most part in check and erasing the bitter taste last year.

"We've used that (as motivation) all year," said Nightingale who had 12 kills and five blocks.

Lyana Perez had a match-high 22 assists for the Troubadours.

November 19, 2009
Woodcreek resurrection leads to playoffs and shot at mighty Folsom

No matter how they do Friday night at fourth-seeded Folsom in the opening round of the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs, No. 13 Woodcreek already has had a remarkable season.

Although it is one of only four teams in the 76-school playoff field with a losing record, few would argue against the 4-6 Timberwolves being among the loaded, 16-team Division II field.

Woodcreek finished in a three-way tie for third with Granite Bay and Del Oro to earn a playoff spot in the Sierra Foothill League, arguably the section's toughest. They also beat two of the area's top teams in Del Oro and Del Campo.

But for awhile, it looked as if the Timberwolves were headed for a repeat of 2007, when they went 0-10, rather than last year's breakthrough campaign in which they made the football playoffs for the first time in school history. Woodcreek went 6-6 and advanced to the D-II semifinals, losing to eventual Open Division state bowl champion Grant.

This season, Woodcreek started 0-3, losing to Casa Roble, Placer and Bear River. The 35-34 loss to the Bear River was the toughest to take. The Timberwolves failed to make a two-point conversion run and missed a field goal late in the game that could have won it.

"That start shook us up a little, considering our high expectations and good feelings coming from 2008," Woodcreek coach John Hildebrand said. "We kind of hit rock bottom. To overcome such a slow start is pretty awesome."

Woodcreek lost league games to Rocklin and Granite Bay without senior running back James Nunley, the team's heart and soul. He's battled and assortment of dings, including a slight shoulder separation suffered in a 16-7 must-win over Roseville in Week 9 that secured a playoff berth for the Timberwolves.

Those are the only two games he has missed in 11 years of football, Hildebrand said.

"I almost had to wrestle with him to keep him off the field against Rocklin (a 28-0 loss)," Hildebrand said. "We've climbed on his back a lot this year."

Against Roseville he carried 42 times for 283 yards, including 12 times in the Timberwolves' winning touchdown drive. It's also the drive in which he banged up his shoulder.

The 5-foot-11, 178-pound Nunley is one of those rare kids who has played four varsity seasons. He has carried the ball an amazing 735 times for 4,279 yards and 43 touchdowns.

"That's what I love about James," Hildebrand said. "He's built more like a scat back. But in addition to the moves, he has the toughness and the ability to finish runs."
And the stamina and courage to keep going when tired and hurt.

"When you have a kid that carries the ball 42 times and keeps asking for it even at the end, you have someone special," Hildebrand said.

Hildebrand decided to hold him out of the 34-10 loss to Granite Bay last Friday because the shoulder was still tender and a playoff berth already was secured.
That resulted in a nice bonus.

Junior Blake Cervantes, a 6-2, 185-pound defensive back and wide receiver moved over to running back and gained 133 yards on 27 carries behind the Timberwolves undersized but tough interior line of guards Sean Boyle (6-foot, 190 pounds) and Sam Klein (5-9, 208) and center Blaine Wickstrom (5-8, 175).

Woodcreek will need good games out of both Nunley and Cervantes, plus some timely passing from senior quarterback Matt Mazzuca, to carry out a pretty simple game plan - keep the ball away from Folsom's high-powered offense as much as possible.

"We've done our best when Matt's had his best games," Hildebrand said.

Mazzuca was 10 for 16 for 140 yards and a touchdown in the 27-23 win over Del Campo and 10 of 14 for 124 yards and two touchdowns in a key 28-6 win over a then 5-1 Oakmont team. The senior, who didn't play last year to focus on baseball, threw no interceptions in those two games.

"Sometimes I see him make a mistake or be a little late on something and wonder what could have been had we had him for two years," Hildebrand said. "But at the same time, he's taken every snap and taken some hellacious hits. When he's on, we have a nice balance."

But that might not be enough against a team like Folsom, which is averaging nearly 48 points and 500 total yards per game.

"No one quite runs the spread like Folsom," Hildebrand said. "They are at a whole other level. When most offenses run middle screens, they're looking to pick up maybe five or 10 yards. Folsom's screens go for 80-yard touchdowns."

Woodcreek's defense has played solidly through most of the season.

The senior leaders are all-league defensive end Cameron Stettner (eight sacks) and defensive back Nick Stephenson. Junior defensive back Geordan Nunley, James' younger brother, and linebacker Jason Stewart also have been standouts.

"We don't have the greatest record, but we believe in ourselves," Hildebrand. "By the same token, we are going to have to play our best game by far to beat Folsom."

November 19, 2009
Latest bowl rankings have Grant, Rocklin, St. Mary's on top

A look at the CalHiSports/ESPN bowl rankings for Northern California schools. And keep in mind that only section champions are eligible for a bowl invite, meaning out of Grant, Rocklin, St. Mary's, Del Oro, Granite Bay and Del Oro only one reaches a bowl as all compete in Division II.

Division I North
1. (1) Grant (Sacramento) 10-0 def. Burbank (Sacramento) 40-22
2. (2) De La Salle (Concord) 8-2 def. California (San Ramon) 49-10
3. (4) Bellarmine Prep (San Jose) 8-1-1 def. St. Ignatius (SF) 18-11
4. (6) Nevada Union (Grass Valley) 9-1 def. Davis 56-0
5. (7) Tracy 10-0 def. Lodi 52-7
6. (8) Deer Valley (Antioch) 10-0 def. Heritage (Bentwood) 31-18
7. (3) Amador Valley (Pleasanton) 8-2 lost to Foothill (Pleasanton) 31-21
8. (9) Granite Bay 8-2 def. Woodcreek (Roseville) 34-10
9. (10) Vacaville 9-1 def. Wood (Vacaville) 54-13
10. (11) Monte Vista (Danville) 7-3 def. San Ramon Valley (Danville) 42-7
11. (12) Lincoln (Stockton) 8-2 def. Chavez (Stockton) 53-3
12. (13) Folsom 9-1 def. Sheldon (Sacramento) 63-28
13. (5) Berkeley 9-1 lost to Pinole Valley, 13-10
14. (NR) Monterey Trail (Elk Grove) 8-2 def. Florin (Sacramento) 40-6
15. (15) Serra (San Mateo) 5-5 lost to Valley Christian (San Jose) 34-21

On the bubble: Burbank (Sacramento) 6-4, California (San Ramon) 5-5, Fairfield 8-2, Foothill (Pleasanton) 6-4, Heritage (Brentwood) 7-3, Milpitas 8-2, Pittsburg 6-4, Pleasant Grove (Elk Grove) 7-3, San Benito (Hollister) 8-2, San Ramon Valley (Danville) 6-4, Sheldon (Sacramento) 7-3.

Breakdown: If you read you know the playoffs in this division baffles everyone on the staff. Even the janitor can't figure this out and he comes up with some creative explanations. This time he shook his head--twice. Grant of Sacramento, Giant Killers last year in the Open Bowl game against Poly of Long Beach and a team that until last Friday had given up 13 points all season, seeded No. 3 in a Sac-Joaquin Section's Division I-II playoffs?
While it sets up a potential Grant-Rocklin game in the semifinals, it still doesn't make sense. Must be computers, which really have a tough time getting out to see teams play. Oh well, St. Mary's of Stockton, the team everyone would like to see in a bowl game against Oaks Christian, isn't disappointed although Folsom is in that bracket and the Bulldogs are not a team to be taken lightly. Bellarmine Prep of San Jose getting seeded No. 5 behind No. 1 Pioneer of San Jose is...shocking.
That's a completely different case than Grant's seeding. If the Sac-Joaquin seeding system was applied in the CCS, Pioneer might be No. 8 instead of No. 1. Defending CCS Open Division champ Bellarmine even has to open up on the road against a Palo Alto team that for some reason no one can figure out got seeded ahead of the Bells.

Division II North
1. (1) Rocklin 10-0 def. Roseville 51-27
2. (2) Archbishop Mitty (SJ) 9-0-1 def. Riordan 38-14
3. (3) Inderkum (Sacramento) 10-0 def. Natomas 21-7
4. (4) Del Oro (Loomis) 8-2 def. Oakmont (Roseville) 56-8
5. (5) St. Francis (Mtn View) 7-3 def. Sacred Heart Cath. (SF) 66-13
6. (6) Encinal (Alameda) 9-1 def. Moreau Catholic (Hayward) 55-15
7. (7) Paradise 9-1 Bye
8. (8) Lincoln 10-0 def. Colfax 27-17
9. (9) Sierra (Manteca) 9-1 def. Weston Ranch (Stockton) 35-14
10. (NR) Del Campo (Fair Oaks) 9-1 def. Bella Vista (Fair Oaks) 23-13

On the bubble: Casa Roble (Orangevale) 6-4, Bella Vista (Fair Oaks) 7-3, Enterprise (Redding) 9-1, Foothill (Palo Cedro) 7-4, Los Gatos 7-3, Manteca 7-3, Novato 7-3, Oakdale 9-1, Palo Alto 7-1-2, Petaluma 10-0, Pioneer (San Jose) 10-0, Placer (Auburn) 9-1, Sonora 8-2, Vanden (Travis AFB) 9-1, Whitney (Rocklin) 7-3.

Breakdown: Not much chance for movement here as the top nine teams either won or did not play. Vanden's stay in the elite group was short-lived as the Vikings were upended by D1 North Rodriguez of Cordelia, 28-21, which opened the door for Del Campo of Fair Oaks. The Cougars, who have been led all season by QB-RB-LB Ryan Dimino, downed Bella Vista by 10. Del Campo is seeded No. 2 behind Inderkum but ahead of Sierra (Manteca) in the Sac-Joaquin Section Div. III playoffs. Archbishop Mitty of San Jose, meanwhile, has steadily moved up but its No. 2 rating will get a fast test as Valley Christian, the No. 5 team in Division III, comes calling this week and has been surging in recent weeks.

Division III North
1. (1) St. Mary's (Stockton) 10-0 def. Edison (Stockton) 55-6
2. (2) Palma (Salinas) 8-1-1 def. Alisal (Salinas) 34-21
3. (3) Central Catholic (Modesto) 9-1 def. Livingston 52-0
4. (4) Marin Catholic (Kentfield) 9-1 def. Tamalpais 32-7
5. (5) Valley Christian (San Jose) 7-3 def. Serra (San Mateo) 34-21
6. (6) Escalon 9-1 def. Ripon 21-6
7. (8) Sutter 8-2 Idle
8. (9) St. Mary's (Berkeley) 8-2 def. Kennedy (Richmond) forfeit
9. (10) Salesian (Richmond) 9-1 def. Cal. School for Deaf (Fremont) 43-0
10. (NR) Carmel 9-0 def. Pacific Grove 78-6

On the bubble: Argonaut (Jackson) 6-4, Cardinal Newman (Santa Rosa) 6-4, Cloverdale 9-1, Colfax 6-4, Fort Bragg 8-2, Fortuna 7-3, Healdsburg 6-4, Hilmar 8-2, Middletown 9-1, Ripon 7-3, Sacred Heart Prep (Atherton) 7-3, Seaside 7-2-1, Scotts Valley 5-3-2, *Wheatland 8-3, Windsor 6-4.

Breakdown: St. Mary's of Stockton got the No. 1 seed in the Sac-Joaquin Section's Division II playoffs and in many way it's hard to argue against the Rams. They played a very tough schedule and only one team, highly respected Div. I Bellarmine Prep of San Jose, got within 30 points (24). OK, so St. Mary's opens against Buhach Colony of Atwater and will gain even more respect and a long look at the Open Division berth if it runs the table from here on out. Still, we continue to see the possibility that it will be best for the future of the bowl games to put St. Mary's and Oaks Christian opposite each other in Div. III instead of the Open Division. Knowing how tough it is going to be for other top-ranked teams in D3 North and D3 South to just get bowl eligible, the nightmare would be to see Oaks or St. Mary's lined up against a clearly inferior opponent in a D3 state bowl game.

Small Schools North
1. (1) Modesto Christian 10-0 def. Ripon Christian 56-7
2. (2) Ferndale 10-0 def. McKinleyville 27-13
3. (3) Modoc (Alturas) 9-0 Idle
4. (4) Portola 10-0 Idle
5. (5) Bradshaw Chr. (Sacramento) 9-1 def. Woodland Christian 77-0
6. (6) St. Francis (Watsonville) 6-3-1 def. Harbor (Santa Cruz) 21-7
7. (7) Fall River (McArthur) 9-2 def. Tulelake forfeit
8. (8) Capital Christian (Sac.) 7-3 def. Golden Sierra (Garden V.) 49-20
9. (9) Hamilton (Hamilton City) 9-2 def. Etna 55-0
10. (NR) Quincy 8-3 def. East Nicolas 38-30

On the bubble: Burney 7-3*, Colusa 6-4, East Nicolas (Nicolas) 6-4*, Hoopa Valley (Hoopa) 8-2, Maxwell 8-3, St. Vincent (Petaluma) 7-3, Vacaville Christian 6-4, Valley Christian (Dublin) 5-5.

Breakdown: Like the South, all but one of the North Small Schools either won or didn't play but since it was No. 10 St. Vincent of Petaluma that fell, Quincy moves into the final spot. Are you ready for section championship games already? The early finish to the season (due to annual bad weather concerns) is the way it works in the Northern Section, which undoubtedly was part of the reason Hamilton of Hamilton City got blasted by St. Margaret's in last year's bowl game. It was a month between games. No. 7 Fall River of McArthur, meanwhile, has a rematch with Maxwell for the Division V title Saturday at Fall River. The Bulldogs beat Maxwell 24-12 earlier this year. Maxwell plays in a rare three-team league.

November 18, 2009
Breaking down Thursday night's volleyball section finals

Where once 80 stood, 10 remain. The Sac-Joaquin Section volleyball championship finals have arrived.

With more intertwining stories than a Tarantino film it promises to be another memorable night at the Pavilion on the campus of UC Davis.

Division I

Click to view the bracket

No. 1 seed Oak Ridge (26-11) vs. No. 11 seed Nevada Union (34-9), 8 p.m.

What to watch for: Nevada Union took the Trojans out of system in the teams' last meeting at the St. Francis Super 8 on Halloween -- Oak Ridge's last loss -- with a tough serve game. Expect the Miners to try to do more of the same tonight or it could be a long night for its young back-row defense.

Who to watch:
With such evenly matched units on the outside and in the middle, the stage may be set for Oak Ridge senior rightside hitter Lena Buckendorf to tip the scale in the favor of the Trojans as setter Brittney Larsen may look to set more often, especially if the Miners' block stifles outside hitters Kayla Berringer and Katie Vaughn.

Division II

Click to view the bracket

No. 1 seed Rocklin (31-7) vs. No. 2 seed St. Francis (35-6), 8 p.m.

What to watch for: Expect a bit of a feeling-out period during the first set of this match as the teams have not faced each other since last year's section semifinals -- a five-set comeback victory for the Troubadours. Though St. Francis has much the same team it had last year, Rocklin's roster turned over quite a bit, particularly the starters.

Who to watch:
Rocklin sophomore outside hitter Cailyn Prewitt may be the one player most likely to have a profound impact on a section final tonight as she has an incredibly tough serve and and an even harder swing capable of taking over a match.

Division III

Click to view the bracket

No. seed St. Mary's-Stockton (18-7) vs. No. 3 seed El Camino (30-6), 6 p.m.

What to watch for: The Eagles can't afford to become one- or even two-dimensional against a strong, veteran squad like St. Mary's. In the Eagles' win over Del Oro last Thursday setter Bridget Herenda masterfully moved the ball around, utilizing all of her hitters and every set in her repertoire to down one of the strongest teams in the entire region. Look for more of the same tonight.

Who to watch: Eagles sophomore Natalie Riddering should get plenty of opportunities to pound the ball tonight whether it be from the outside, middle, backside or out of the pipe and, as it has all season, how often she converts will go a long way in determining El Camino's success.

Division IV

Click to view the bracket

No. 1 seed Christian Brothers (26-10) vs. No. 3 seed Ripon (38-9), 6 p.m.

What to watch:
The atmosphere for this match in the past has at times overshadowed the action on the court itself. Both schools travel well and have passionate, loud fan bases. In the cavernous UC Davis Pavilion expect pro-Indian and pro-Falcons chants to drown out much of the other action.

Who to watch: Falcons senior middle blocker Katie Hoekman has been on a tear during the playoffs, averaging about 10 kills and five blocks per match despite sitting late in matches because CB's opponents have been so over-matched. Hoekman's athleticism (she's quite a basketball player as well) serve her well in coach Jeff Deter's system, which calls for middles to hit from all spots of the floor, particularly from behind the setter.

Division V

Click to view the bracket

No. 1 seed Bradshaw Christian (25-10) vs. No. 10 seed Ripon Christian (record unavailable), 4 p.m.

What to watch: The Pride is enjoying its finest volleyball season ever, but is in uncharted territory in its first section final and hasn't played in a venue quite like The Pavilion with its cavernous interior, high ceiling and plentiful space beyond each baseline. Meanwhile Ripon Christian is making its seventh appearance in a section final this decade and enters as defending champion. How nerves do or don't affect Bradshaw Christian to start the match will be crucial.

Who to watch:
Bradshaw Christian junior outside hitter Patty Orozco is the Pride's do-anything, all-everything player. She'll get plenty of swings from all over the court and how she handles that pressure will have a profound impact on this match-up.

November 17, 2009
Latest NorCal football Top 15 have nine local teams, 3 in top 5

A look at the Cal-Hi Sports/ESPN football NorCal Top 15. Nine section teams in the top 15 is further proof that this section is loaded.

Northern California Top 15

1. (1) Grant (Sacramento) 10-0
2. (2) De La Salle (Concord) 8-2
3. (3) St. Mary's (Stockton) 10-0
4. (5) Rocklin 10-0
5. (6) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 9-0-1
6. (7) Bellarmine Prep (San Jose) 8-1-1
7. (10) Nevada Union (Grass Valley) 9-1
8. (11) Tracy 10-0
9. (12) Deer Valley (Antioch) 10-0
10. (9) Palma (Salinas) 8-1-1
11. (4) Amador Valley (Pleasanton) 9-1
12. (13) Inderkum (Sacramento) 10-0
13. (14) Del Oro (Loomis) 8-2
14. (15) Granite Bay 8-2
15. (NR) Vacaville 9-1

Amador Valley's upset loss to Foothill of Pleasanton last Friday night not only helped clear the way for Deer Valley of Antioch to secure the No. 2 seed behind De La Salle in the North Coast Section Div. I playoffs but it also dropped them down in the NorCal overall rankings.

With Rocklin moving up from No. 5 to No. 4, this means that three of the top four teams in the CIF North Open Division rankings will all be involved in the same Sac-Joaquin Section playoff. Only one will get on the board in Carson when teams are picked for this year's games on Sunday, Dec. 13, which further aids in the likelihood that whichever team wins that section title will get the open division bid from the North.

Still, no one should count out De La Salle even with two losses. For even Grant, St. Mary's and Rocklin, beating either Don Bosco Prep of New Jersey of Lakeland of Florida would be very tough and De La Salle still hasn't lost a game to any other NorCal school (at least from the CIF's definition of NorCal) since 1991.

Newly-ranked Vacaville, led by 1,300-yard rusher Jimmy Hines, ended its regular season last Friday with a seventh straight comfortable win as the Bulldogs beat Wood of Vacaville, 54-13, to finish undefeated in the Monticello Empire League.

Since suffering their only loss of the season to an impressive Granite Bay squad, the Bulldogs haven't even played a close game as seven straight wins have come by more than 30 points.

It was just three years ago that Vacaville was celebrating a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship and with all of those other teams in the Division II playoffs the Bulldogs have to be considered one of the favorites this year along with unbeaten Tracy and 9-1 Nevada Union (which has lost only to Rocklin).

November 17, 2009
Baby steps lead BCS to first volleyball section final

Baby steps.

That's what the Bradshaw Christian girls volleyball team has taken in each successive year of Ric Reyes' four-year coaching reign. The Pride made its second playoff appearance in his first year in 2007, won its first playoff match in 2008 and made it to the semifinals last year before a disappointing five-set loss to Woodland Christian ended the season.

BCS again found itself matched up with the Cardinals in Sac-Joaquin Section Division V girls volleyball semifinal on Tuesday night and as they've done the three previous years, advanced one step further than the year before.

The Pride overcame a shaky start in downing Woodland Christian 3-1 (20-25, 25-16, 25-10, 25-22) to make its first-ever section finals appearance and the automatic berth into the CIF NorCal playoffs that goes along with it.

"It's funny, this year we put much less emphasis on winning and more emphasis on team," Reyes said, "and yet we end up going further than we've ever gone."

At a school that already has a rich basketball tradition -- the girls basketball team has won back-to-back D-V section titles and the boys team is also the defending champion -- and the defending D-VII football champions, Reyes feels it's time to take his team to that level.

"We hope to be right there with those teams," Reyes said. "We want to be around for a long time,"

Early on, however, things didn't look good for the Pride. Woodland Christian came out swinging and had BCS on its heels. The nerves were most evident in junior setter Chloe Hudson, who was called for four double touches in the first set before being pulled briefly by Reyes for a breather.

"I just needed to re-focus," Hudson said. "I knew I needed to get back in there and do it for the team."

Both teams combined for 19 unforced errors in the first set but it was Woodland Christian, a more experienced playoff team, that prevailed.

Pride standout outside hitter Patty Orozco, held to just two kills in the first set, got going in the second with a kill that knotted the score at 2-2 early. Several points later another Orozco kill made the score 6-4 in favor of BCS and put her on the service line where she served two aces in a row to put the Pride up 8-4, a lead it would not relinquish.

With BCS leading 9-5 in the third set Orozco again toed the service line and served out eight straight points to give the Pride a commanding lead it again did not surrender.

The Pride will now face Ripon Christian, which swept Forest Lake Christian on Tuesday night, in Thursday's section final at UC Davis.

"We've worked so hard and now we're there!" Orozco said. "I know we're going to do well."

Click here to view the D-V bracket

Division I

Click here to view the bracket

No. 12 seed Pleasant Grove gave top-seeded Oak Ridge all it could handle but ultimately fell in five sets, 3-2 (20-25, 25-13, 25-18, 15-25, 15-13).

"As much as we struggled, we showed a lot of heart tonight," Trojans coach Becky Potter said. "For them to pull it out was a testament to our seniors not wanting to give up. And our younger players fought for their seniors."

Seven-time defending D-I champion Nevada Union travelled to No. 2 seed Napa and handed the Indians a four-set loss, 3-1 (25-21, 19-25, 25-22, 25-9). Abbie Miraldi and Ellie Selleck each had nine kills apiece for the Miners, who will meet defending D-II champion Oak Ridge for the third time this season in Thursday's section final.

"What better time for the tiebreaker?" Potter said. "It's gonna come down to who wants it more and who plays better defense."

Division II

Click here to view the bracket

Top-seeded Rocklin had no problem with No. 12 seed Bella Vista, putting away the Broncos in straight sets, 3-0 (25-12, 25-21, 25-17). Sophomore outside hitter Katelyn Ivy led the way with 10 kills while Corissa Santos had nine and Olivia Lane added seven.

No. 2 seed St. Francis swept visiting third-seeded Atwater, 3-0 (25-21, 25-23, 25-21) behind 14 kills and 10 blocks from senior outside hitter Kasey Clark. Junior middle blocker Zoe Nightingale also had a double-double with 11 kills and 10 digs and fellow middle Mary Clark added 14 kills for the Troubadours who will face Rocklin in Thursday's section final.

Division III

Click here to view the bracket

El Camino's 'Underbirds' continued to fly, travelling to Sonora to defeat the second-seeded Wildcats 3-0 (25-20, 25-23, 25-22). The Eagles will face three-time defending champion St. Mary's of Stockton in Thursday's section final at UC Davis.

Division IV

Click here to view the bracket

Top-seeded Christian Brothers again made quick work of its opponent, this time fourth-seeded Escalon, 3-0 (25-21, 25-9, 25-16). The Falcons will face Ripon for the fourth straight year in Thursday's section final at UC Davis.

The teams also met in last year's NorCal final in which Christian Brothers rallied from down two sets to none to beat the Indians.

"Should be another knock-down, drag-out match," Christian Brothers coach Jeff Deter said. "The rivalry lives on."

November 17, 2009
Sac High girls basketball ranked No. 2 in NorCal; No. 9 in West Region

Sacramento High is No. 2 behind national power St. Mary's of Stockton in's preseason girls basketball Northern California top 20 coaches poll.

The Dragons, coming off a 23-10 campaign under second-year coach Michele Massari, are led by NCAA Division I signees Brittany Shine (Florida) and Kyra Dunn (Pittsburgh).

Oak Ridge, featuring 2008-09 Bee Player of the Year and Stanford signee Sara James, is No. 5.

St. Mary's of Stockton is ranked No. 1 in the nation and No. 1 in the West Region by ESPN's

Sac High is No. 9 in the West Region behind St. Mary's, (2) Mater Dei-Santa Ana; (3) Brea Olinda-Brea; (4) Long Beach Poly; (5) St. Mary's-Phoenix, Ariz.; (6) Bishop Gorman-Las Vegas; (7) Highland-Gilbert, Ariz; (8) Oregon City, Ore.

Here's NorCal Preps complete top 20:

1. St. Mary's-Stockton; 2. Sacramento; 3. Carondelet-Concord; 4. Mitty-San Jose; 5. Oak Ridge; 6. Bishop O'Dowd-Oakland; 7. Modesto Christian; 8. St. Mary's-Berkeley; 9. Vanden; 10. Berkeley; 11. Dublin; 12. St. Ignatius-San Francisco; 13. Dougherty Valley-San Ramon; 14. Northgate-Walnut Creek; 15. Encinal-Alameda; 16. Presentation-San Jose; 17. Campolindo-Moraga; 18. Valley Christian-San Jose; 19. Pinewood School-Los Altos Hills; 20. Sacred Heart Cathedral-San Francisco.

November 16, 2009
Whitney defensive tackle also gifted with panflute in orchestra

Every so often, we run into a football player who is more than just a brawler in shoulder pads.

Last season, it was Sean Nill of Laguna Creek, a terror in the trenches who especially prided himself in his theatre and drama work. And there was Grant quarterback Kipeli Koniseti, who could fire a 40-yard strike and use those same fingers to play a nice tune on the piano.

This season, it's Alex Chernyy, a powerful 240-pound senior defensive tackle for Whitney from Moldova, a country between Romania and Ukraine. He is in his first year of football, and a rising star at the position, who has played the panflute in concerts and weddings since his youth.

November 16, 2009
Rosemont's Heyward signs with LSU


Most of those in attendance for Simone Heyward's National Letter of Intent signing ceremony Monday at Rosemont High School claimed to have known her since she was this tall.

In toasting the 2008 Metropolitan Conference Player of the Year and Louisiana State University's newest softball signee, the implication in the running joke was that the 5-foot-4 centerfielder hasn't grown much.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Heyward, the oldest of the three of Earl and Mavis Heyward's children, on Tuesday took what she called the first step in a long and prosperous journey.

"I just signed up for my future," she said.

Next fall Heyward will enter LSU as a freshman and onto a softball squad that is a perennial force in the tough Southeastern Conference. The Tigers have made the NCAA Tournament each of the last three years.

"LSU is getting a fantastic student-athlete," Wolverines coach Bill Kapp told a group of over 40 family members, teammates, friends, coaches and teachers at the beginning of the ceremony. "But more importantly, a great person."

Heyward carries a 4.0 grade point average at Rosemont in addition to holding elected student office and just recently began championing the cause of other academic achievers at the school. While the recognition she's received as a student-athlete is nice, she says, recognition should start with those who achieve in the classroom.

"Students need to be recognized more for academic achievement," Heyward said. "That hard work needs to be rewarded."

Heyward's impact on the softball diamond is equally as impressive. For a program entering just its fifth year, she has served as the cornerstone in what Kapp hopes to build into regional power.

"She makes everyone around her better," Kapp said. "Once girls see how hard she works, they know what we expect."

In 2007 Heyward started as a freshman and led the team in batting average (.583) and steals (38) in leading Rosemont to its first-ever playoff appearance. As a sophomore in 2008 she hit .614 with five home runs in winning the Metropolitan Conference Most Valuable Player award. Despite missing a large portion of the 2009 season because of injury she keyed the program's biggest win to date -- a 5-4 win over Woodcreek in the first round of the playoffs, knocking the perennial contender out of the postseason.

"She's one of the best natural-born leaders I've ever been around," Kapp said.

It all began when she was eight. On a whim the family decided to start Simone off in tee-ball in the now-defunct Florin Town Little League.

"We just wanted to keep her active," said Heyward's father, Earl.

Current Rosemont assistant softball coach Marcus Sabala was Heyward's first coach on the diamond and remembers his first impression of the youngster.

"She was fast, and not just for her age," Sabala said. "We were guaranteed to score a run whenever Simone got on base."

With his front-row seat to her softball success, Sabala said sees Heyward as a role model, a beacon for younger players in the Rosemont program.

"A lot of the younger players look at her as an inspiration," Sabala said.

Heyward said that everything she's accomplished has started in the home. Her father Earl's side of the family is rich in athletic talent -- Dad was a three-sport athlete in high school and an uncle played basketball at UCLA -- while she says her mother instilled her with a need for scholastic fulfillment. All the years of playing ball in the yard with Dad and doing homework with Mom culminated with Monday's signature.

"As a Dad you don't want to show emotion -- you know how we are," Earl said. "But as the day she gets on the plane comes closer I'm sure the emotions will come out."

November 16, 2009
A video look at the prep version of "The Play" from Woodland-Pioneer

The Bee's Bill Paterson wrote about the wild finish in Woodland on Friday where three laterals, some luck and good karma allowed Pioneer to score on an amazing 57-yard play with no time left, putting Pioneer into the playoffs. And dousing any feel-good ending to an already miserable season for Woodland.

November 15, 2009
A closer look at the section football playoff brackets

A look at the Sac-Joaquin Section playoff schedule.
By all means, let's hear predictions for each division. More to come on the blog and in the print editions of The Bee.

Division I
No. 16 Enochs (4-6) at No. 1Tracy (10-0)
No. 9 Modesto (7-3) at No. 8 Los Banos (7-3)
No. 12 Burbank (6-4) at No. 5 Lincoln (8-2)
No. 13 Pitman (6-4) at No. 4 Monterey Trail (8-2)
No. 14 Napa (5-5) at No. 3 Nevada Union (9-1)
No. 11 Sheldon (7-3) at No. 6 Oak Ridge (7-3)
No. 10 Franklin-Elk Grove (6-4) vs. No. 7 Pleasant Grove (7-3)
No. 15 Grace Davis (6-4) at No. 2 Vacaville (9-1)

Note: There's only one unbeaten team in the field with Tracy, but why do we tend to think the real favorites are Nevada Union or Vacaville? Or perhaps Pleasant Grove if quarterback Taylor Congdon is at full health? And how much damage can Burbank inflict here?

Division II
No. 16 Buhach Colony (6-4) at No. 1 St. Mary's (10-0)
No. 9 Christian Brothers (7-3) at No. 8 Del Oro (8-2)
No. 12 Sacramento (6-4) at No. 5 Granite Bay (8-2)
No. 13 Woodcreek (4-6) at No. 4 Folsom (9-1)
No. 14 Tokay (6-4) at No. 3 Grant (10-0)
No. 11 Rosemont (6-4) at No. 6 Fairfield (8-2)
No. 10 Atwater (7-3) vs. No. 7 Stagg (8-2)
No. 15 Elk Grove (4-6) at No. 2 Rocklin (10-0)

Note: Stacked, loaded, outrageously talented. That's the D-II field in a matter of words with unbeaten heavies in Grant, Rocklin and St. Mary's - all with arguments as to why they should be the top seed. And there's Folsom, Del Oro, Granite Bay and danger teams in Woodcreek, CBS and Fairfield. Did we say stacked and loaded?

Division III
No. 16 Rodriguez (5-5) at No. 1 Inderkum (10-0)
No. 9 Casa Roble (6-4) at No. 8 Manteca (7-3)
No. 12 Natomas (6-4) at No. 5 Oakdale (9-1)
No. 13 Yuba City (6-4) at No. 4 Vanden (9-1)
No. 14 Mira Loma (6-4) at No. 3 Sierra (9-1)
No. 11 Patterson (6-4) at No. 6 Benicia (8-2)
No. 10 Bella Vista (7-3) at No. 7 Rio Linda (8-2)
No. 15 Pioneer (6-4) at No. 2 Del Campo (9-1)

Note: If it's not Inderkum against Del Campo in the finals, then it's a stunner. A darkhorse may be Rio Linda, spinning a bit from two straight losses after blitzing to an 8-0 start. That Natomas is here after four consecutive 1-9 seasons is testament to legendary coach Frank Negri.

Division IV

No. 8 Livingston (6-4) at No. 1 Lincoln (10-0)
No. 5 Whitney (7-3) at No. 4 Sonora (8-2)
No. 6 Foothill (7-3) at No. 3 Placer (9-1)
No. 7 Calaveras (6-4) at No. 2 Dixon (9-1)
Split bracket
No. 8 Colfax (6-4) at No. 1 Modesto Christian (10-0)
No. 5 Hilmar (8-2) at No. 4 Escalon (9-1)
No. 6 Ripon (7-3) at No. 3 Summerville (9-1)
No. 7 Argonaut (6-4) at No. 2 Central Catholic (9-1)

Note: It's a split bracket, but talk about a heavyweight field in the upper bracket with Lincoln, Whitney, Placer, Dixon and Sonora.

Division V
No. 5 Lindhurst (4-6) at No. 4 Mariposa (5-5)
No. 6 Denair (5-5) at No. 3 Highlands (5-5)
No. 1 Capital Christian has a bye
No. 2 Le Grand (6-4) has a bye

Note: The clear leader here is Capital Christian and quarterback James Lee, though athletic Highlands looms as a real threat, too. The top two seeds have the benefit of an opening-round bye to scout and rest.

Division VI

No. 5 Vacaville Christian (6-4) at No. 4 Millennium (6-4)
No. 6 Big Valley Christian (6-4) at No. 3 Delta (7-3)
No. 1 Bradshaw Christian (9-1) has a bye
No. 2 Brookside Christian (7-3) has a bye

Note: A year ago, Bradshaw Christian stunned defending champion Vacaville Christian late, but there may not be a rematch. Expect Bradshaw to return to the finals against Delta, a team Bradshaw crushed earlier this season.

November 14, 2009
Pioneer reenacts 'The Play' to beat Woodland, make the playoffs

No team entered the football postseason in a more bizarre or exciting way than Pioneer did on Friday night against rival Woodland.

Two seconds and 57 yards away from losing to the Wolves by a point, the Patriots used four laterals to weave their way to a most improbable touchdown and a 13-8 win that resulted in the home crowd storming the field at Pioneer High School.

"It was like Cal and Stanford all over again," said Pioneer coach David Butterworth. "It was one of the craziest plays I have ever seen."

Butterworth was referring to "The Play" in which Cal beat Stanford in a similar way in 1982.

Only this time there was no trombone player involved.

"I just told them to pitch it around and see what happens," Butterworth said. "It was a situation we've never practiced for."

Jacob Snethen and 6-foot-5 James Tillman played key roles. Snethen took Jason Williams' pass that started the play, then finished it after taking a lateral from Tillman and running the final five yards or so to the end zone.

Tillman's height helped keep the play alive.

"At one point, he was running around with the ball up in the air, looking like he was going to pitch it. But he'd fake and run for some more yards," Butterworth said. "He finally lateraled to Snethen just as he was going down."

Certainly a lot of the Woodland people thought he was down. They stood in stunned silence by the dramatic turn of events.

The winning touchdown came shortly after 1-9 Woodland had gone 89 yards to score on a Jonathan Wax 1-yard run, then made the two-point conversion for an 8-7 lead with just over two minutes to play.

The win helped Pioneer (6-4) and the embattled Butterworth - some parents have been trying to oust him as coach - land an at-large berth for the postseason. The 15th-seeded Patriots will play Friday at second-seeded Del Campo (9-1).

"That's going to be a whole other challenge," he said. "But we're still alive and have our head above the water. The kids are doing a great job."

November 14, 2009
Sac High wins Bell Game, qualifies for football postseason

Tight end Arturo Amaya had five catches for 116 yards and two touchdowns and Clinton Johnson rushed for 150 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries to lead Sacramento past McClatchy 28-14 in the annual Bell Game today at Sacramento High School.

It was the Dragons' fourth consecutive win and puts them into the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoffs for the second time in three years. They play Friday at Granite Bay.

Sacramento finished 6-4 overall and 3-3 in the Metro Conference. It qualified for the postseason as an at-large team under the section's new, expanded format.

"We beat everybody we were supposed to beat and lost to everyone (Grant, Burbank, Folsom and Rosemont) we were supposed to lose to," said Sac High assistant coach Paul Doherty. "The season has played out kind of like we expected."

McClatchy finishes 2-8 overall and 2-4 in the Metro.

November 14, 2009
The Bee's updated football rankings with playoff twists and turns

The regular season is complete, in the books, for memory only. Here's a look at The Bee's latest Sac-Joaquin Section Top 10.
This has been updated since the section playoff brackets have been released.

The Bee's Sac-Joaquin Section Top 10
1. Grant (10-0)
The Pacers seek their third perfect season since 2006 and have all the ingredients to do so. The defense was tested by Burbank, a good thing, as the Pacers have not been challenged for many weeks.
Playoff keys: Grant has a proven playoff back in Devontae Butler, and teams can win championships with a superb run game and strong defense. Indefinite loss of all-purpose blur talent Dezmon Epps hurts.
Playoff chances: Excellent, and the Pacers are piping mad at not being the top seeded. As the No. 3 seed, Grant still gets a nice draw, with Rocklin the heavyweight looming and the upper bracket including St. Mary's, Folsom, Del Oro and Granite Bay.

2. St. Mary's (10-0)
The Rams won the section D-I title a year ago and now covet the D-II prize with a spread offense that has annihilated teams. There is talk that this is the best offense in the state and the best team in school history. Time will tell.
Playoff keys: No one doubts this team's ability to score, but it has given up yards on the ground when games have been close, so keep an eye on that, and can the Rams slow teams down if its a shootout.
Playoff chances: Excellent. Thee will be no easy cruise as the top seed with Del Oro, Granite Bay, Folsom looming.

3. Rocklin (10-0)
The Thunder are enjoying a real championship glow on campus in recent months, including the basketball team winning the NorCal D-II title last season. A key player on that team is the leading force in football in tailback Jackson Cummings.
Playoff keys: Balance has been paramount for the Thunder, with Cummings and QB Jimmy Laughrea and WRs Holden Huff and Tiger Sorenson. The defense has also been stout in big wins of Granite Bay and Del Oro.
Playoff chances: Better than ever, though the D-II field is tougher than ever. Rocklin would love to meet Grant in a semifinal - and it would be at a neutral field. This is Rocklin's golden chance to seize a title as the team is senior dominated.

4. Inderkum (10-0)
The Tigers are 10-0 for the first time, and a year after nearly winning the D-III section title, this is your clear favorite. It's a testament to coach Terry Stark, a program builder.
Playoff keys: No doubt Inderkum can run like the wind with Antonio Bumpers, Demetrius Williams and Devin Hartley, but how well can the Tigers pass if trailing? Defense has also been very strong with four shutouts.
Playoff chances: Outstanding as the top seed in D-III. Main threat in D-III is Del Campo.

5. Nevada Union (9-1)
The Miners are looking an awful lot like the Miners of old, and those section D-I title teams of 1993, '94 and 2005 are among the best in regional history. You can bet this group wants to create its own legacy.
Playoff keys: Maintain the offensive balance with ultimate QB leader Broughan Jantz and a host or runners, and let the defense attack at will behind Eric Niederberger, Zach Vallejo and others. One question is the ability to handle a super speed back as Franklin ripped off two 60-yard TD runs earlier this season.
Playoff chances: Superb. NU is the third seed in D-I, hungry to extend the playoffs a bit longer than a year ago when it lost a heartbreaker to Pleasant Grove.

6. Tracy (10-0)
The Bulldogs are making the alums proud as it has been many years since the program was this good, and Tracy makes the D-I field all the more intriguing.
Playoff keys: The ability to pass to provide balance as QB Casey Winchman is one of many fine runners for Tracy. And playoff experience is slim here.
Playoff chances: Very encouraging as the top seed. This is a confident, strong running team with a good defense.

7. Folsom (9-1)
The Bulldogs and St. Mary's have the most dynamic offenses in Northern California, and both live by the spread. Dano Graves is a touchdown machine, running for four scores and passing for three in a rout of Sheldon to clinch the program's first league title - a share - since 1990.
Playoff keys: Running the ball with Jordan Richards is paramount so speed defenses don't key on Graves. And the defense has to provide stops and not rely on shootouts.
Playoff chances: Extremely promising if every game is a shootout in the upper D-II bracket that includes St. Mary's, Del Oro and Granite Bay.

8. Del Campo (9-1)
The Cougars suffered the stunning loss to Woodcreek, then later rebounded with a great win over Pleasant Grove and cruised through the Capital Athletic League. Now it wants a whole lot more, specifically a D-III title.
Playoff keys: Unleashing Ryan Dimino, Eddie Plantaric and all the playmakers that make this such a strong team. Dimino is a load as a running QB, and he can throw a nice ball.
Playoff chances: Very good as the No. 2 seed, with a target date against Inderkum, the D-III favorites.

9. Del Oro (7-2)
The Golden Eagles were licking their wounds at this time a year ago, at 4-6 with so many close losses. What has motivated Del Oro of late is the two tough losses to Woodcreek and Rocklin and a chance to make it all right with a playoff run in D-II.
Playoff keys: Everyone knows the Golden Eagles can run with Bryce Pratt, and QB Max Magleby has shown he can throw a good ball. Balance has to be there.
Playoff chances: Promising. If Del Oro plays like it did most of the season, it has a very good chance to win it all, but this bracket allows no margin of error.

10. Granite Bay (7-2)
The Grizzlies, rated as high as No. 3 in this poll, make everyone in D-II nervous because of its depth, defense and hunger to make this their tournament. Close losses to Del Oro and Rocklin inspired the team - made it mad - to dominate down the stretch.
Playoff keys: Avoiding the mistakes that crippled the Grizzlies against Rocklin, and making sure the running game keeps the heat off of the passing game.
Playoff chances: Don't all the contenders in D-II have a chance? Absolutely, and Granite Bay's chances are very good, as always.

On the bubble: Lincoln (10-0); Pleasant Grove (7-3); Monterey Trail (8-2); Vacaville (9-1); Oakdale (9-1); Placer (9-1).

November 14, 2009
'Greedy' Grant wants more after beating Burbank to go 10-0 during regular season

If there was any doubt before, Grant High School football coach Mike Alberghini knows his talented team can bounce back from a knock-down punch.

The top-ranked Pacers beat No. 19 Burbank 40-22 Friday night in Del Paso Heights to win the Metro Conference championship, finish the regular season 10-0 and extend their victory streak to 24 games over two seasons.

But the score was misleading.

When Charlie Vue put the Pacers ahead 26-8 with 8:04 left to go in the third quarter with a 32-yard field goal - a huge lead for a team that had allowed two touchdowns total in its previous nine games - the Pacers appeared to have things locked up.

But this is Burbank (6-4, 5-1) and this is a rivalry game and the Titans can dish out the hits and make the big plays just like the Pacers.

With junior quarterback Tu'uta Inoke leading the way, the Titans scored two unanswered touchdowns to close within 26-22 with 5:29 to left.

You could feel the collective air go out of the Grant faithful - many wearing "Pacers for Life" shirts and jackets - so used to one-sided slaughters.

The momentum had clearly shifted and a fired up Titans team pinned Grant at their own 19 after the kickoff.

But a few plays later, from their own 30, the incomparable Devontae Butler, the Pacers' workhorse throughout the evening, broke off right tackle, scooted outside and ran along the sidelines for 53 yards to the Titans' 17.

Three plays later, quarterback Glenn Deary snuck over from a yard out for a 33-22 lead and 4:30 to play. Butler, who rushed for 293 yards on 34 carries, clinched it when he scored his fourth touchdown on an 18-yard run with 1:29 left. That came three plays after Robert Isaacs sacked Inoke for a nine-yard loss on fourth and desperation at the Titans' 30 yard-line.

"We put the ball in Devontae's hands and we blocked for him there," coach Mike Alberghini said of the back-breaking 53-yard run. "It was nice to see the kids bounce back. I thought for a minute there Burbank was going to break, but then they made a couple of plays and to the finish they played hard."

Added defensive coordinator Reggie Harris: "Sometimes we'll bend, but we're not going to break. That's embedded in the kids."

Grant had shut out seven opponents and allowed single touchdowns to Rosemont and McClatchy.

But Burbank's Inoke ran for two touchdowns, passed for another and led the Titans on scoring drives of 61, 74 and 68 yards. He also led the Titans on another long drive in the second quarter that ended when Isaacs intercepted his pass on Grant's one-yard line. That, however, resulted in a safety against the Pacers when Butler was tackled in the end zone for a one-yard loss.

Inoke finished with 73 yards rushing and 119 yards passing. In all Burbank, had 264 yards of total offense.

"They executed their plays well," Harris said of Burbank. "We missed a lot of tackles. Now we know we are in the battle form here on out. It was a big wake-up call."

Alberghini expected Burbank to score some points. But he didn't think they would control the ball as much as the did.

"We tackled poorly and that's just a sign of (the first stringers) not playing enough and not playing tough teams like Burbank," Alberghini said. "But I told the kids this is the fastest team we are going to play. And they do a hell of a job coaching."

It looked for awhile like Grant was on the way to the kind of 55-6 romp they put on Burbank in last season's Sac-Joaquin Section D-II championship game.

Grant opened the game by driving 65 yards in six plays to score on its first possession. Butler had all the yards - the Pacers also were assessed three five-yard penalties - including the one-yard touchdown run.

Junior linebacker Poka Lopa tackled Inoke in the end zone for a safety early in the second quarter, then the Pacers went ahead 16-0 a few minutes later on Butler's eight-yard scoring run.

Although Burbank closed to within 16-8 on a safety and Inoke's 40-yard touchdown run, the Pacers moved ahead 23-8 on Butler's seven-yard run. Butler helped set that up with a 53-yard kickoff return.

The reliable Vue then but Grant up by 18 points with his field goal. It came after a Grant procedure penalty nullified a nine-yard touchdown run by Butler.

The game, which started late because of a senior night celebration, also was penalty marred. Burbank had 13 penalties for 85 yards and Grant 15 for 105.

"Their key players made plays and our key players made plays," Alberghini said. "But I think it was frustrating for both sides because neither of us have had much competition in league, and it showed tonight, especially for us."

Burbank suffered a huge loss when section sack leader Victor Amerson was carted off with an injured left ankle five plays into the game. He had 16 sacks coming into the game.
Neither team will face each other again this season.

Under the section's new playoff format, Burbank will be in the D-I playoffs. Grant is going to be in D-II along with unbeatens St. Mary's of Stockton and Rocklin and other powerhouses, Folsom, Granite Bay and Del Oro.

But who the Pacers will play won't be known until Saturday night, when the brackets are released under the new playoff format.

Grant is ranked fourth in the USA Today's West Region rankings and No. 2 in the state behind Oaks Christian of Westlake Village in Cal-Hi Sports' state rankings.

Yet based on strength of schedule, Grant is third behind St. Mary's and Rocklin within the section because of the Metro's poor overall win-loss record.

Alberghini believes based on winning last year's CIF Open Division state bowl title and going 10-0 this season with a largely junior-dominated team should be enough to get Grant the top seed. Section officials can move teams two spots up or down "to correrct a serious injustice in the seeding."

"I'm confident this team can compete with anybody," Alberghini said. "If you told me at the start of the season that with these young kids we'd start 10-0, I'd be giddy. Now the greedy part comes in. We want more."

November 13, 2009
Oregon coach: McClatchy's Thomas will get chance to play right away

Here's what new Oregon coach Paul Westhead says of McClatchy's Ariel Thomas and his first women's basketball class signing class announced today:

"We have two extremely talented senior guards right now, so we knew signing a guard would be vital," Westhead said. "Ariel is a player who could have the opportunity to play right away next year. She is capable of being a scorer at the collegiate level and is also capable of handling the ball in the fast break system. Ariel played in some very high-profile games this summer with her AAU team and met those challenges."

The 5-foot-6 senior is rated as the nation's No. 29 point guard by and also was recruited by Nebraska and Texas Christian.

November 12, 2009
Playoff roundup: 'Underbird' El Camino downs Del Oro in D-III quarterfinals

Just call them The Underbirds.

Though the seedings didn't say so, most if not all in attendance at third-seeded El Camino's Sac-Joaquin Section Division III second round playoff volleyball match on Thursday night felt that the host Eagles were the decided underdog against sixth-seeded Del Oro.

"No one outside of this team thought we could win," El Camino coach Martin Soyama said. "No one."

And while it's true that Del Oro, a Sierra Foothill League powerhouse, had the height, the speed and the finesse, El Camino had the guile. And a little extra inspiration.

Before downing Del Oro 3-2 (11-25, 25-21, 17-25, 25-20, 15-3) Soyama cut together an inspirational video featuring clips from classic underdog sports movies like Hoosiers, Miracle and Remember The Titans.

"That got us really pumped up," sophomore outside hitter Natalie Riddering said.

Following a first-set drubbing -- only fitting for an underdog -- the Eagles came out and served tough, keeping Del Oro's potent attack grounded.

"We knew serving would be important tonight," El Camino senior libero Lainey Gordon said. "It always is. It's the one part of the game you have complete control."

Del Oro jumped out to a 5-2 lead in the second set before the Eagles went on an 8-2 run to take a 10-7 lead with senior outside hitter Alayna Robie leading the way with three kills. During that stretch El Camino's defense tightened, making it harder for Del Oro attackers to find the floor. Repeatedly Hannah Oros, Belle Obert and Emily Mattevi would swing for the back line only to have Gordon or another Eagles back-row player track it down.

"(Hitting deep back) is their biggest strength, so defending it had to become mine," Gordon said.

Meanwhile the Eagles' offense began to catch fire behind a brilliantly-set match from junior Bridget Herenda. Herenda, whose tough serve was instrumental in keeping Del Oro out of system, mixed up the Golden Eagles' block by setting an array of different balls, Robie on the shoot, Riddering out of the pipe and Megan Lunger on the slide.

"I wanted to get the middles going so they couldn't get comfortable camping out on Natalie and Alayna," said Herenda, who had 47 assists.

Riddering's star shone brightest in the fifth set when she served an ace and had five of her 27 kills, most of which came facing a triple block.

"I worked a lot in practice on ways to get around that," she said.

Elsewhere in D-III fifth-seeded Placer swept host No. 4 seed Pioneer 3-0 (26-24, 25-19, 25-13).

Click to view the D-III bracket

Division I
Click to view the bracket

Top-seeded Oak Ridge continued to roll with a sweep 3-0 (25-12, 25-19, 25-5) of eighth-seeded Edison behind 11 kills from junior outside hitter Katie Vaughn and nine from senior middle blocker Sarah Horning. Senior setter Brittney Larsen dished out 30 assists.

Seven-time defending champion Nevada Union went into Modesto and swept the third-seeded Panthers 3-0 (25-10, 25-19, 26-24) with a 16-kill performance from senior outside hitter Abbie Miraldi. Junior outside hitter Ellie Selleck chipped in 12 kills.

No. 12 seed Pleasant Grove swept Golden Valley-Merced 3-0 (25-19, 25-18, 25-17) behind four aces apiece from Sara Konkel and Megan Pollock and 12 kills from Emily Seros.

Division II
Click to view the bracket

Top-seeded Rocklin swept ninth-seeded Buhach Colony-Atwater 3-0 (25-15, 25-7, 25-18) behind 12 kills and two aces from sophomore outside hitter Cailyn Prewitt and nine kills and five aces from sophomore outside hitter Katelyn Ivy. Junior middle blocker Olivia Lane had seven kills.

No. 2 seed St. Francis, playing without senior outside hitter Kasey Clark, who was out with flu, needed five sets to defeat seventh-seeded Roseville 3-2 (25-16, 25-20, 22-25, 22-25, 15-4).

"Roseville played very good defense and we got tentative," St. Francis coach Alynn Wright said. "That's the kind of match we needed; I'm pleased with their fire and desire to win."

Troubadours junior middle blocker Zoe Nightingale had 24 kills, nine digs and eight blocks while fellow junior middle Mary Clark had 16 kills, four blocks and two aces. Senior setter Lyana Perez had 47 assists.

Division IV
Click to view the bracket

Top-seeded Christian Brothers continued to roll with a sweep of Le Grand 3-0 (25-8, 25-13, 25-16) behind 11 kills, eight digs and seven aces from senior middle blocker Katie Hoekman. Whitney Swain led the Falcons with 22 digs while Kim Fazio had 12 digs off the bench to go along with three kills and three aces.

Division V
Click to view the bracket

Top-seeded Bradshaw Christian needed four sets to defeat Jim Elliot Christian 3-1 (25-10, 25-13, 18-25, 25-13). Patricia Orozco led all players with 22 kills while Brianna Yadon had 10 kills

November 12, 2009
Some Week 10 prep football news and notes

A year ago, Oak Ridge tied for the Sierra Valley Conference championship yet limped into the playoffs battered and bruised.

That's because the Trojans were walloped by rival Ponderosa 61-35 in a Week 10 game in as horrific a rout as a league title team has ever endured. Lyndell Scarr rambled for a school-record eight touchdowns and an area record 471 yards.

Ponderosa still didn't get into the playoffs at 7-3 and expected to roar through this regular season. But when Scarr strained his knee early this season, his team's chances also stalled.

Now Ponderosa targets a 3-3 finish in the SVC - with a win over Oak Ridge on Friday.
And look who is running amok again. Scarr.

"Don't remind me," Oak Ridge coach Eric Cavaliere cracked this week. "He was a nightmare last year. From what I've seen on film, he's running well again."

So is Oak Ridge, actually, with Jacob Allen and Jordan Matanane. Oak Ridge hasn't lost since falling 14-0 to top-ranked Grant in Week 3.

Other items of interest heading into Week 10:

* Scarr's 471 last season bettered the previous area mark of 452 by James Montgomery of Cordova in 2005, against Oak Ridge of all teams (really, this is a championship program!). The Sac-Joaquin Section record belongs to Dallas Bernstine of Bethel-Vallejo when he scooted for 555 against Vintage in 2001.

* McClatchy coach Malcolm Seabron said he chatted with Grant coach Mike Alberghini for 15 minutes after the teams played in Week 9, the Lions absorbing a 62-6 rout.

"He's an amazing coach with a great program," Seabron said. "It was a great talk. I learned a lot from him in just 15 minutes. We strive to be as good as Grant."

When Seabron played for McClatchy, in 1989, the Lions were football powers. They last reached the playoffs in 1996 - getting battered by Chad Elliott, Donte Stallworth and Onterrio Smith with a second-half running clock.

* Grant plays Burbank for the Metropolitan Conference title for the third consecutive season. Burbank won a thriller in 2007 for the program's first outright conference title in 40 seasons and Grant rolled in 2007 and '08 (and in the section D-II title game).

Burbank is fast, athletic and on a roll, having won six straight. Then again, Grant is all of those things and on an even bigger role, having won 23 in a row.

"For all the talk of how bad the Metro is, people forget that it was Grant and Burbank that played for the D-II section title last year," Grant defensive coordinator Reggie Harris said. "And we know how good D-II has been. I think Burbank will make a real run in D-I this year."

I do too.

* Here's hoping Taylor Congdon plays for Pleasant Grove. He's the gritty senior quarterback who missed the second half of the overtime loss to Folsom in Week 9 with a hip pointer. He missed the second half of last season with a knee injury, though the Eagles still reached the D-I section championship.

* If Folsom beats Sheldon, the Bulldogs will clinch its first league title - at least a share - since 1990 when they won the D-II section title under coach Tom Doherty, who still comes to Folsom games (and says this year's team may be the best in school history).

* Placer and Whitney play in a classic Pioneer Valley Conference finale in a rematch of the D-IV section title game, won by the Wildcats. Whitney has endured all sorts of injuries with 11 starters having missed three or more games, yet are still a real threat to repeat.

And Placer has been superb with the wing-T this season under coach Joey Montoya, though still smarting from a close loss to Lincoln last week.

* Lincoln aims to go 10-0 for the first time if it can beat Colfax, a credit to coach Ken Lowe and leaders Alex Stewart and Moses Stanley.

* If Rocklin wins, it will have gone from 4-6 to 10-0 for the first time.

* Sheldon aims to get into the playoffs for just the second time in school history, joining the Delta River League title team of 2006.

* Inderkum seeks to go 10-0 for the first time with a win over Natomas in a battle for the Tri-County League championship.

* Natomas is 6-3 with two 1-point losses after winning a single game in each of the previous four seasons. Long live the great Frank Negri.

November 12, 2009
Playoff projections - One last look

The Bee's Nathaniel Levine has been preparing weekly projections of how the Sac-Joaquin Section football playoffs may look. With the playoffs actually around the corner, he takes one last look of how the seedings could turn out.

There would be some interesting matchups but remember that Sac-Joaquin Section officials reserve the right to tinker with the brackets in accordance with certain situations.

You can see the playoff projections by clicking here.

November 12, 2009
Who should be The Bee's Football Coach of the Year?

With the regular season finale upon us here in Week 10, how about a lively debate as to who The Bee's Coach of the Year should be.

Let's base it on regular-season achievement to this point (and drum up the debate again after the playoffs).

Add your thoughts by clicking on the comments link at the bottom of this blog.

The candidates include, but not exclusive only to...
Listed in no particular order:
Bee Coach of the Year Candidates:

Greg Benzel, Rocklin
Thunder beat Nevada Union, Granite Bay and Del Oro in thrillers with balance, and with super defense against GB and DO;also clinched first Sierra Foothill League championship.

Mike Alberghini, Grant
Win over national power Bellevue set the tone, and has best defense in the state with cast of newcomers; have won 23 in a row and seek third perfect season since 2006.

Ken Lowe, Lincoln
From 1-9 and lost and weary to the cusp of 10-0, the Zebras are in midst of greatest season in school history. More than that, team is major D-IV section title threat, if not favorites.

T.J. Ewing, Monterey Trail
From an 18-game losing streak earlier this decade at MT to a win over Folsom and four shutouts and possible share of Delta River League title, it all points to Ewing, revered by his players.

Frank Negri, Natomas
The ageless wonder - at 74 - has in his first season transformed the Nighthawks into a force, injecting hope and discipline after team went 1-9 in four successive seasons; two 1-point losses.

Terry Stark, Inderkum
A program builder at all his stops - Mira Loma, Natomas and here - Stark has the Tigers off to school-record start thanks to the wing-T, great defense, speed; favorite to win D-III.

Joey Montoya, Placer
Only lost to Lincoln in thriller and has Whitney next; has put the program - his alma mater - back into the forefront in three short seasons with wing-T, discipline, drive.

Eric Cavaliere, Oak Ridge
Slow start this season included losses to Folsom, Rocklin and Grant, teams that are a combined 26-1; winners of Sierra Valley Conference and D-I threat to be sure.

Scott Winslow, Dixon
Lost only to Vanden, a team that is 9-0, and have rolled in the Capital Valley Conference, including thrilling rally to beat Rio Linda on Friday. Very good program.

Dave Humphers, Nevada Union
Miners have cruised, losing only to Rocklin, and impressing in all other efforts; this choice looks all the more solid with a roll through D-I playoffs, too.

Kris Richardson, Folsom
The Bulldogs graduated a ton and here they are rolling along with a host of junior skill players and a much improved defense; program seeks first league title since 1990

Matt Costa, Mira Loma
Another miracle worker who has transformed a down program into a formidable one. Mira Loma, a power in the 1960s, '70s and early '80s, is back in the playoffs for the first time in 15 seasons. Costa's the biggest reason.

November 11, 2009
McClatchy's Ariel Thomas can't wait to be a Duck, play for Westhead

Unlike some of her girls basketball counterparts, McClatchy senior Ariel Thomas didn't sign her NCAA letter of intent today with Oregon, where she will play next fall on scholarship for veteran coach Paul Westhead.

This was the first day of the week-long early signing period for most college sports, including basketball.

But the 5-foot-6 Thomas says she doesn't plan to sign until Friday when her father Sean will be home.

"We're going to have a small family dinner party," she said. "I didn't want to do it until my father could be there."

But after a morning practice at McClatchy, Ariel spent most of the the day congratulating and accepting graduations from some of those who are part of what is believed to be the best girls basketball recruiting class in area history.

Among her Just Believe Sports club teammates: Oak Ridge's Sara James (Stanford) and Sacramento High's Kyra Dunn (Pittsburgh) and Brittany Shine (Florida) are all moving on to major programs.

"We've been texting each other with congratulations and how proud we are of each other," Thomas said.

Thomas verbally committed to Oregon in early October after a home visit by Westhead. She was Westhead's first recruit.

Thomas also gave strong consideration to Nebraska and Texas Christian, the school where her father attended before going on to play in the NFL.

But she said she was won over by the chance to play point guard for the 70-year-old Westhead, a coach famed for his up-tempo teams in previous stops with the WNBA Phoenix Mercury, three NBA teams including the Los Angeles Lakers and Loyola Marymount.

"At first I didn't know much about him, but then I started looking things up," she said. "I love that style of always running. We're going to put up some big numbers. But I also like the school and the family atmosphere."

Westhead made no secret of his plans when his hiring was announced in March.

"I'm going to do the fast break, we're going to outscore people," Westhead told the Oregonian. "We're going to shoot the ball every five seconds or less, preferably less. Hopefully we'll create a lot of excitement."

Thomas will have some familiar company when it comes time to adjust to college. One of her JBL teammates, forward Deanna Weaver of Wilcox High in Santa Clara, also is signing with Oregon.

Sean Chambers, her club coach who heads the girls basketball program at new Antelope High School, says Thomas will thrive in Westhead's system.

"She's going to play right away," he said. "They want her to come in and run the show. They have big plans for her."

Even though considered one of the nation's top point guard recruits, Thomas has spent most of her high school career playing other positions.

"I've pretty much played the two (shooting guard), three (small forward) and four (power forward) and, a few times, the five (post)," she said. "But that's where I was needed."

As a freshmen for coach Harvey Tahara, she helped the undersized Lions win the D-I Sac-Joaquin Section championship and reach the Northern California Division I title game, where they lost 66-44 to Berkeley.

She's been the team's top rebounder for three seasons and its leading scorer for two. Last year, though, she missed nearly two months of the season with a torn hamstring in her right leg and played in only 15 games. McClatchy, 47-19, the previous two years, went 13-14 and failed to make the playoffs.

"That was a very humbling experience watching from the bench," she said. "It was definitely hard, but it let me see the game from a different perspective."

Playing with Just Believe Sports during the spring and summer gave her a huge boost for this season. The team won several major tournaments across the country and finished ranked seventh best nationally.

"It's one of the best teams to come out of Sacramento," Thomas said. "We knew a lot of people underestimated us because we're from Sacramento and the West Coast.
"But we had great team chemistry. We were like a clock where every piece was working in synch. It was a great experience."

November 11, 2009
NorCal bowl rankings show Grant No. 1 in D-I North, Rocklin in D-II

A look at the CalHi-Sports/ESPN Bowl Rankings with a bunch of local teams, including Grant at No. 1 in Division I North and Rocklin at No. 1 in Division II North (but impossible for both teams to reach a state bowl because only section champions are eligible).

Division I North
1. (1) Grant (Sacramento) 9-0 def. McClatchy 62-6
2. (2) De La Salle (Concord) 7-2 def. Foothill (Pleasanton) 33-7
3. (3) Amador Valley (Pleasanton) 8-1 def. Livermore 34-7
4. (4) Bellarmine Prep (San Jose) 7-1-1 def. St. Francis (MV) 27-21
5. (5) Berkeley 9-0 Idle
6. (7) Nevada Union (Grass Valley) 8-1 def. Elk Grove 35-14
7. (9) Tracy 9-0 def. Franklin (Stockton) 44-0
8. (10) Deer Valley (Antioch) 9-0 def. Antioch 42-14
9. (6) Granite Bay 7-2 def. Oakmont 51-14
10. (12) Vacaville 8-1 def. Napa 60-7
11. (NR) Monte Vista (Danville) 6-3 def. California (San Ramon) 45-24
12. (13) Lincoln (Stockton) 7-2 def. Bear Creek (Stockton) 47-21
13. (15) Folsom 8-1 def. Pleasant Grove (Elk Grove) 27-26 OT
14. (11) San Benito (Hollister) 8-1 lost to Palma (Salinas) 24-23
15. (8) Serra (San Mateo) 5-4 lost to Archbishop Mitty 20-7

On the bubble: California (San Ramon) 5-4, Fairfield 7-2, Foothill (Pleasanton) 5-4, Heritage (Brentwood) 6-3, Milpitas 7-2, Monterey Trail (Elk Grove) 7-2, Pittsburg 5-4, Pleasant Grove (Elk Grove) 6-3, San Ramon Valley (Danville) 6-3, Sheldon (Sacramento) 7-2.

Breakdown: The philosophy that playing a really tough schedule will give a team an edge over one that doesn't comes into play in this week's ratings on several fronts. Grant's early-season schedule keeps the Pacers securely atop the list despite the ridiculous scores in Sacramento's Metro League games. McClatchy can claim to be one of just two teams to score on Grant this season. Undefeated Tracy and Deer Valley (Antioch) and once-beaten Nevada Union (Grass Valley) scooted past Granite Bay, which has two losses. The biggest mover and shaker this week is Monte Vista, which took out previous No. 14 California of San Ramon, 45-24.
That win enables the Mustangs to go back in front of a Foothill (Pleasanton) team it lost to, 41-37, since California has a win over Foothill. Monte Vista's other two losses are to De La Salle and Amador Valley and both of those games could have gone either way.
Toward the bottom of the top 15, Serra of San Mateo's 20-7 setback to fast-closing Archbishop Mitty of San Jose and San Benito of Hollister's one-point loss to Palma of Salinas weren't enough to knock either out of the Top 15. Both Mitty and Palma are No. 2 in their CIF Northern California bowl game rankings.

Division II North
1. (1) Rocklin 9-0 def. Del Oro (Loomis) 24-21
2. (2) Archbishop Mitty (SJ) 8-0-1 def. Serra (San Mateo) 20-7
3. (6) Inderkum (Sacramento) 9-0 def. Yuba City 42-14
4. (4) Del Oro (Loomis) 7-2 lost to Rocklin 24-21
5. (3) St. Francis (Mountain View) 6-3 lost to Bellarmine (SJ) 27-21
6. (8) Encinal (Alameda) 8-1 def. Kennedy (Richmond) forfeit
7. (10) Paradise 9-1 def. Enterprise (Redding) 49-13
8. (9) Lincoln 9-0 def. Bear River (Grass Valley) 29-15
9. (NR) Sierra (Manteca) 8-1 def. Oakdale 44-42
10. (NR) Vanden (Travis AFB) 9-0 def. Hogan (Vallejo) 48-14

On the bubble: Casa Roble (Orangevale) 5-4, Bella Vista (Fair Oaks) 7-2, Del Campo (Fair Oaks) 8-1, Enterprise (Redding) 9-1, Foothill (Palo Cedro) 6-4, Los Gatos 7-2, Manteca 6-3, Novato 6-3, Oakdale 8-1, Palo Alto 7-1-1, Petaluma 9-0, Placer (Auburn) 8-1, Shasta (Redding) 7-3, Sonora 8-1, Whitney (Rocklin) 7-2.

Breakdown: If Division II South is the deepest, this is the zaniest. Rocklin scored big points for handing Del Oro of Loomis its second straight loss, 24-21, and Mitty continues to get high grades after a 20-7 win over Serra of san Mateo, a Division I power. Sierra of Manteca takes a big jump from the bubble to No. 9 off its win over Oakdale, which drops to the bubble to make room for unbeaten Vanden of Travis AFB, which inched out the previous No. 5 Mustangs plus unbeaten Petaluma and Del Campo for the No. 10 slot.
Paradise, meanwhile, earned its Northern Section No. 1 bid with an impressive 49-13 spanking of previously unbeaten Enterprise of Redding. We wonder if the Paradise band still plays that march from the Lord of the Rings movies whenever their team is driving it down the field? If so, they played it a lot against Enterprise.

Division III North
1. (1) St. Mary's (Stockton) 9-0 def. Tokay 49-13
2. (2) Palma (Salinas) 7-1-1 def. San Benito (Hollister) 24-23
3. (3) Central Catholic (Modesto) 8-1 def. Patterson 51-7
4. (4) Marin Catholic (Kentfield) 8-1 def. San Rafael 46-0
5. (6) Valley Christian (San Jose) 6-3 def. Riordan 54-13
6. (5) Escalon 8-1 lost to Modesto Christian 21-16
7. (8) Hilmar 8-1 def. Orestimba (Newman) 26-22
8. (10) Sutter 8-2 def. Wheatland 42-15
9. (NR) St. Mary's (Berkeley) 7-2 def. Albany 48-18
10. (NR) Salesian (Richmond) 8-1 def. Tomales 28-0

On the bubble: Argonaut (Jackson) 5-4, Cardinal Newman (Santa Rosa) 5-4, Colfax 6-3, Fort Bragg 7-2, Fortuna 7-2, Healdsburg 6-3, Middletown 8-1, Ripon 7-2, Sacred Heart Prep (Atherton) 7-2, Seaside 6-2-1, Scotts Valley 4-3-2, Wheatland 8-2, Windsor 6-3.

Breakdown: To show how strong St. Mary's of Stockton's hold on the No. 1 spot is that there was no consideration whatsoever of moving Palma up despite a truly impressive one-point win over Division I San Benito of Hollister. The top six schools held their positions, except Escalon, which dropped just one spot after a five-point loss to Small School No. 1 Modesto Christian. A couple of East Bay schools-St. Mary's of Berkeley and Salesian of Richmond-move into the Top 10 based on their performances late in the season while Sutter wrapped up its regular season with an impressive 42-15 win over previous No. 10 Wheatland to gain two spots.
Valley Christian will have to hang tough for one more West Catholic Athletic League game, facing Serra of San Mateo.

Small Schools North
1. (1) Modesto Christian 9-0 def. Escalon 21-16
2. (2) Ferndale 9-0 def. St. Bernard's (Eureka) 55-14
3. (3) Modoc (Alturas) 9-0 def. Los Molinos 70-12
4. (4) Portola 10-0 def. Colusa 42-0
5. (6) Bradshaw Christian (Sacramento) 8-1 def. Vacaville Christian 55-8
6. (5) St. Francis (Watsonville) 5-3-1 lost to Santa Cruz 17-14
7. (7) Fall River (McArthur) 8-2 def. Chester 42-12
8. (8) Capital Christian (Sac.) 6-3 def. Lindhurst 42-6
9. (9) Hamilton (Hamilton City) 8-2 def. East Nicolas 41-0
10. (NR) St. Vincent (Petaluma) 7-2 def. Kelseyville 35-12

On the bubble: Burney 7-3, Colusa 6-4, East Nicolas (Nicolas) 6-4, Quincy 7-3, Hoopa Valley (Hoopa) 7-2, Vacaville Christian 5-4, Valley Christian (Dublin) 5-4.

Breakdown: These teams haven't moved around much in weeks. Modesto Christian's win over Escalon was a plus for Small Schools and the next three also came out on top. We did move up Bradshaw Christian one spot for the manner in which it dominated a Vacaville Christian team that won the Sac-Joaquin Section Div. VII title last season. The only newcomer is St. Vincent of Petaluma moving in to No. 10 over Hoopa Valley of Hoopa. Four of these teams above get a week off with byes as the Northern Section starts its playoffs.

November 10, 2009
Roseville's Blumm keys victory over Pondo, top seeds all rolling in volleyball playoffs

Stephanie Blumm is no stranger switching gears.

The Roseville junior already holds four school records on the track so when volleyball coach Ron Grove asked her to play middle in place of an injured teammate in Tuesday night's first round playoff match with Ponderosa, Blumm was more than game if not a little timid.

"I was a little nervous," admitted Blumm, who has played outside hitter for the Tigers this season.

Blumm, playing the middle for injured teammate Simone Durham, led the seventh-seeded Tigers with 10 kills as they beat No. 10 seed Ponderosa 3-1 (25-14, 25-18, 22-25, 25-21) in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division II first-round match on Tuesday night at Moeller Gym.

Junior outside hitter Jessica Richardson pitched in nine kills for the Tigers while fellow outside Allison Campbell had eight. More often than not for the Tigers took a little bit off of their swings and put the ball where Bruin defenders were not, instead of bombing away.

"We're emphasizing hitting smart," Grove said.

Roseville cruised in the first two sets before the Bruins awoke from hibernation and started depositing kills instead of hitting errant balls out of bounds.

Bruin junior middle Sara Hickenbottom notched five kills and four blocks (including set point) in the third set alone leading Ponderosa back into the match. Hickenbottom led all players with 17 kills.

The Bruins jumped out to a 5-2 lead in the fourth set and led 20-17 late but Blumm was too much down the stretch, notching three kills and block as the Tigers used an 8-1 run to close out the match.

"We're peaking," Grove said. "We're playing our best volleyball at the right time."

In other D-II action No. 2 seed St. Francis had little problem with visiting Rosemont, as the Troubadours swept the Wolverines 3-0 (25-8, 25-8, 25-9). Junior middle blocker Zoe Nightingale led the way with 12 kills and four blocks while fellow middle Mary Clark chipped in eight kills.

Top-seeded Rocklin beat Folsom 3-1 (25-14, 25-14, 20-25, 25-12) as sophomore outside hitter Katelyn Ivy led the way with 15 kills and three aces. Junior middle blocker Olivia Lane had nine kills and four blocks for the Thunder.

Thunder coach said he pulled Dave Muscarella pulled his starters in set three in order to give his bench some experience before re-inserting the starters for the fourth set.

"I just wanted to get (the non-starters) some playing time so that they're as comfortable as possible when we need them down the road," he said.

Sixth-seeded Granite Bay used 20 kills from Karli Pedone to down visiting Beyer-Modesto 3-0 (25-12, 25-15, 25-19).

"(Beyer) was a really tough, scrappy team," Grizzlies coach Jamie Ingram said. "They made it tough on us to find the floor tonight."

Division I

Top-seeded Oak Ridge swept visiting Chavez 3-0 (25-8, 25-9, 25-23) behind 15 kills from junior outside hitter Katie Vaughn and 12 kills from senior outside hitter Kayla Berringer. Senior setter Brittney Larsen added 35 assists.

No. 11 seed and seven-time defending D-I champion Nevada Union travelled to Lodi and handed the sixth-seeded Flames a four-set loss 3-1 (25-21, 25-23, 23-25, 25-18).

12th-seeded Pleasant Grove swept No. 5 seed Rodriguez 3-0 (25-22, 25-14, 25-14).

Division III

Belle Obert and Hannah Oros each had 11 kills to help sixth-seeded Del Oro top No. 11 seed Sierra 3-0 (25-9, 25-11, 26-24). Kate Kessler had 34 digs and Bailey Humes had 18 assists for the Golden Eagles.

Fifth-seeded Placer rallied from down two sets to none to stun Rio Americano 3-2 (23-25, 17-25, 25-20, 25-23, 15-12)

Third-seeded El Camino rolled Woodland (25-14, 25-11, 25-14).

No. 10 seed Union Mine swept seventh-seeded Center 3-0 (25-5, 25-14, 25-14).

Fourth-seeded Pioneer needed four sets to beat No. 13 seed Whitney (25-17, 25-9, 23-25, 25-20). Sophie Rominger led all players with 18 kills.

Division IV

Top-seeded and four-time defending champion Christian Brothers swept Hilmar 3-0 (25-9, 25-9, 25-10) behind eight kills, eight digs, five aces and three blocks from senior middle blocker Katie Hoekman, while Whitney Swain led all players with 12 digs.

"We talked a lot about keeping focus on what we do," Falcons coach Jeff Deter said. "We were disciplined tonight and really tightened the screws."

Mariko Kawashima and Kaitlyn Christner had 10 kills apiece to lead fifth-seeded Golden Sierra over Calaveras 3-0 (25-20, 25-23, 25-20).

Division V

Top-seeded Bradshaw Christian swept Victory Christian (25-15, 25-10, 25-17).

November 10, 2009
Latest prep playoff projections show changes, including Grant at No. 3

With Week 10 of prep football season upon us, we have Nathanial Levine's latest Prep Playoff breakdown here with some interesting changes, including Grant the No. 3 team in Division II.

Click here for projection charts

November 10, 2009
Sac, Sheldon, Jesuit and Rocklin among NorCal boys basketball top 20

Four area teams are represented in's preseason boys NorCal basketball top 20.

Sacramento is ranked No. 2 behind Salesian of Richmond, the CIF State Division IV champion.

Sheldon is No. 3, Jesuit No. 14 and Rocklin No. 18.

Here's the complete top 20:
1. Salesian; 2. Sacramento; 3. Sheldon; 4. De La Salle-Concord; 5. Bishop O'Dowd-Oakland; 6. St. Mary's-Stockton; 7. St. Francis-Mountain View; 8. Newark Memorial; 9. Castro Valley; 10. Bellarmine-San Jose; 11. Rodriguez-Fairfield; 12. Oakland; 13. Sacred Heart Cathedral-San Francisco; 14. Jesuit; 15. San Ramon Valley-Danville; 16. St. Joseph's of Notre Dame-Alameda; 17. McClymonds-Oakland; 18. Rocklin; 19. Analy-Sebastopol; 20. Berekely.

November 10, 2009
'Let the wild rumpus start!' Volleyball playoffs have arrived

The Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs are upon us and, if the regular season was any indicator, we're in for a wild ride.

Can Nevada Union get it done on the road in order claim its unprecedented eighth straight Division I title? Or will Oak Ridge become the first team in section history to win titles in three different divisions? Will St. Mary's of Stockton and Christian Brothers continue their recent run of titles? Which teams on the cusp will break through and assert themselves as major players?

Read on ...

Division I

Click here to view the bracket

Who should win: No. 1 seed Oak Ridge (23-11, 11-1 Sierra Valley Conference)
The defending D-II champions look to become the first school in the history of the section to win titles in three different divisions (D-II in 2005 and 2008 and D-III in 2002). The Trojans have quite possibly the best outside hitter tandem in the section in senior Kayla Berringer and junior Katie Vaughn and a crafty setter in senior Brittney Larsen who can generate offense all by herself with her deceptive "on-two" attack.

Who could win: No. 11 seed Nevada Union (31-9, 8-4 Sierra Foothill League)
The Miners seek an unprecedented (they keep pushing the envelope) eighth straight D-I title with the youngest squad they've had in years. Leading the way is lone senior Abbie Miraldi, who notched the championship-winning block in last year's five-set section final thriller against Napa. This year though, the Miners will have to do it on the road after holding either the No. 1 or 2 seeds in each of the past five years. Nevada Union beat Oak Ridge the last time the teams met on Halloween at the Super 8 Tournament albeit in a best-of-three sets match, while Oak Ridge claimed a four-set non-league victory over the Miners on Sept. 30.

No. 2 seed Napa (28-8, 15-0 Monticello Empire League)
The Indians have six seniors back from last year's section runner-up squad, all looking to erase memories of that five-set loss to Nevada Union.

Dark horses: No. 12 seed Pleasant Grove (23-4, 8-2 Delta River League), No. 14 seed Vintage-Napa (15-10, 10-5 MEL).

Division II

Click here to view the bracket

Who should win: No. 2 seed St. Francis (32-6, 10-0 DRL)
Too many weapons. The Troubadours have four hitters topping 6-feet and four who have notched at least 100 kills. It's a good problem for St. Francis setter Lyana Perez to have as she has the best middle tandem in the area in juniors Zoe Nightingale (322 kills, .459 hitting percentage) and Mary Clark (294 kills) at her disposal in addition to a smart, powerful outside hitter in senior Kasey Clark (278 kills). And should you stymie those attackers, the Troubadours still have senior rightside hitter Kiki Kosler (88 kills) and senior outside hitter Alex Henry (141 kills) to throw at you.

Who could win: No. 1 seed Rocklin (28-7, 10-2 SFL)
The Thunder earned the top seed in D-II by navigating a brutal league schedule (the SFL put five teams in the playoffs) and is as dangerous as anyone in the playoffs at any level due to its dominant serving. If sophomores Cailyn Prewitt and Katelyn Ivy's serves are on, they can keep any team out of system and pick up easy points via the ace. Prewitt and Ivy generate a good deal of offense for the Thunder at the net along with junior middle Olivia Lane. The Thunder is eager to erase memories of last year's semifinals, when it surrendered a 15-6 lead in what would have been the clinching fourth set before going on to drop the match at home ... to St. Francis.

No. 7 seed Roseville (23-7, 7-5 SFL)
The Tigers are young, hungry and capable. Roseville put together an impressive body of work knocking off Del Oro, Nevada Union and Rocklin in SFL play in addition to an impressive nonleague win over El Camino - all playoff teams.

Dark horses: No. 6 seed Granite Bay (14-11, 6-6 SFL), No. 10 seed Ponderosa (14-19, 6-6 SVC).

Division III

Click here to view the bracket

Who should win: No. 6 seed Del Oro (24-6, 8-4 SFL)
The Golden Eagles were enjoying one of their finest seasons ever until dropping their final three Sierra Foothill League matches (all in sweeps) and thus losing the top seed in the D-III bracket. That simply means Del Oro, which has more than enough firepower with Aly Duffin and Emily Mattevi, will need to win a pair of matches on the road in order to get to the section final for the first time in 30 years.

Who could win: No. 1 seed St. Mary's-Stockton (15-7, 12-0 Tri-City Conference)
The Rams, thanks to an especially low roof over their volleyball court, enjoy one of the biggest home-court advantages anywhere and will look to take advantage of that to get back to the section finals for a chance at a fourth-straight D-III title.

No. 3 seed El Camino (27-6, 15-0 Capital Athletic League)
In his first year at the helm former Loretto coach Martin Soyama led a relatively young group of Eagles to the school's first Capital Athletic League championship in over a decade. Now he has the Eagles, led by sophomore outside hitter Natalie Riddering, poised to make a run at El Camino's first-ever section title.

Dark horses: No. 10 seed Union Mine (18-10, 7-5 SVC), No. 12 seed Rio Americano (22-13, 11-4 CAL).

Division IV

Click here to view the bracket

Who should win: No. 1 seed Christian Brothers (24-10, 11-1 SVC)
The four-time defending champion Falcons have battled through illness and injury all season but appear to be near 100 percent heading into the playoffs. Christian Brothers' twin tower middle tandem of Megan Anders (6-foot-4) and Katie Hoekman (6-foot) is complimented nicely by powerful outside hitter Erika Cuevas.

Who could win: No. 2 seed Vacaville Christian (25-2, 12-0 Central Valley Christian League)
The Falcons have never made a section championship match, despite owning the second seed in D-IV in 2007 and 2008.

No. 3 seed Ripon (35-9, 14-1 Trans Valley League)
The Indians have met Christian Brothers in the past three D-IV title matches and have left unhappy each time. Junior outside hitter Cheyann Deprue (474 kills) along with a set of fresh faces on Larry Keethe's squad hopes to change that.

Dark horses: No. 5 seed Golden Sierra (21-9, 12-0 Golden Empire League), No. 11 seed Colfax (12-7, 10-2 Pioneer Valley League).

Division V

Click here to view the bracket

Who should win: No. 6 seed Forest Lake Christian (14-9, 9-3 CVCL)
The Falcons hope experience (all 12 players on coach Travis Smith's roster are upperclassmen) will carry them to their first section final since 2006 and bring the school its first title since 1998. Forest Lake Christian is the only team in the D-V field with a win over top-seeded Bradshaw Christian.

Who could win: No. 1 seed Bradshaw Christian (22-10, 14-0 Sacramento Metro Athletic League)
The Pride looks to break through and establish itself as a volleyball force much the way the school's basketball and football programs have in the past few years.

No. 13 seed Turlock Christian (20-13, 10-5 Southern League)
The Eagles have appeared in five section finals in this decade (tied for the most with Ripon Christian) but have managed to win just once.

Dark horses: No. 5 seed Woodland Christian (19-9, 9-3 CVCL), No. 10 seed Ripon Christian.

November 9, 2009
Update on Grant injuries, a mixture of good and bad

Checked out Grant football practice today for a story I am working on this week on the Pacers defense and the injury news is mixed.

Vei Moala, Grant's mountain of a man in the trenches, practiced and will be good to go Friday against Burbank in the Metropolitan Conference championship game. This comes as a sigh of relief for Grant as Moala missed most of Saturday's game at McClatchy with a sore ankle. He is a target for chop blocks and blockers who dive at his lower legs - anything to contain him, so avoiding such tactics, double teams and making plays makes for triple duty on every snap.

Not so encouraging at the moment is the status of Dezmon Epps, Grant's quickest player who was sidelined against McClatchy when his arm got caught during a play and yanked back, popping his shoulder out. He will not play Friday, and his playoff status at the moment is unknown.

Epps is a blur in the open field, a threat on handoffs, receptions and on returns. In other words, a game-breaking threat any time he handles the ball.

Grant assistant coach Aaron Garcia said today, "I tell college recruiters that he's one of the best players around, a great player who can do anything."

Look for more plays and more action for sophomore Shaq Thompson.

November 8, 2009
A look at the Week 10 prep football schedule

Week 10 is here, with a peek at the schedule and the playoffs looming.

Mira Loma at El Camino
Union Mine at Rosemont

Bella Vista at Del Campo
Cosumnes Oaks at Center
Dixon at River City
Rio Linda at Foothill
West Campus at Antelope
Florin at Monterey Trail
Folsom at Sheldon
Davis at Nevada Union
Laguna Creek vs. Franklin
Valley vs. Elk Grove at Cosumnes River College
Capital Christian at Golden Sierra
Encina at Highlands
Marysville at Lindhurst
Burbank at Grant
Bear River at El Dorado
Lincoln at Colfax
Placer at Whitney
Valley Christian at Vacaville Christian
Woodland Christian at Bradshaw Christian
Del Oro at Oakmont
Rocklin at Roseville
Woodcreek at Granite Bay
Christian Brothers vs. Vista del Lago
Cordova at Galt
Oak Ridge at Ponderosa
Natomas at Inderkum
Woodland at Pioneer
Yuba City at River Valley
Cristo Rey at Foresthill
Mesa Verde at San Juan

Casa Roble at Rio Americano
Pleasant Grove at Jesuit
Kennedy at Johnson
McClatchy at Sacramento

November 8, 2009
The Bee's latest Sac-Joaquin Section Top 10 football rankings

A look at our latest Bee Sac-Joaquin Section Top 10.

I added a different twist this week with each team's quality wins and game-face pulse to this point.

1. Grant (9-0)
The Pacers are roaring toward the program's third 10-0 regular season finish since 2006, with dangerous rival Burbank looming Friday to decide the Metropolitan Conference championship. Grant steamed McClatchy 62-6 - yes, allowing a touchdown, of all the nerve. McClatchy scored on a bomb late against the Grant reserves when it appeared the receiver pushed off. Vei Moala miss most of the game with a sprained ankle and Dezmon Epps missed the second half with a shoulder injury.
Quality wins (with records excluding loss to Grant): Montgomery-Santa Rosa (7-1) 42-0; Edison-Stockton (6-3) 27-0; Bellevue-Washington (8-1) 14-0; Oak Ridge (6-2) 14-0; Rosemont (6-2) 56-7; Sacramento (5-3) 63-0.
Game-face pulse: Stoic, hungry for more.

2. St. Mary's (9-0)
The Rams are the defending Division I section champions seeking to win the prize in D-II with a spread offense that includes Cal-bound major recruit Josh Harper at receiver. Rams rolled rival Tokay 49-13 on Friday to wrap up the Tri-City League championship.
Quality wins (with records excluding loss to St. Mary's): Bellarmine Prep-San Jose (7-0-1) 34-10; Los Banos (6-2) 39-7; Lincoln-Stockton (7-1) 48-18; Central Catholic (8-0) 50-28; Stagg (7-1) 85-40; Tokay (6-2) 49-13.
Game-face pulse: Confident and sure.

3. Rocklin (9-0)
The Thunder seized the golden chance to secure the program's first Sierra Foothill League championship, beating rival Del Oro 24-17 for yet another signature triumph this record season. The balance of QB Jimmy Laughrea, RB Jackson Cummings and WR Holden Huff - and the defense - make for a viable D-II section title threat.
Quality wins (with records excluding loss to Rocklin): Oak Ridge (6-2) 40-32; Nevada Union (8-0) 41-36; Woodcreek (4-4 - and only team to beat Del Campo, and beat Del Oro) 28-0); Granite Bay (7-1) 14-7; Del Oro (7-1). Next is Roseville for a chance at first 10-0 start.
Game-face pulse: Relieved and eager for more.

4. Inderkum (9-0)
The Tigers rolled Woodland 46-0 to set up a Tri-County Showdown with neighborhood rival Natomas (6-3). Inderkum has the wing-T in high gear behind QB Demetrius Williams and a stout defense.
Quality wins (with records excluding loss to Inderkum): Windsor (6-2) 29-0; Fernley-Nevada (7-2) 46-19; Pioneer (5-3) 41-28; Yuba City (5-3) 42-14.
Game-face pulse: Supremely confident of 14-0 season.

5. Nevada Union (8-1)
The Miners clinched at least a share of their second straight Delta Valley League championship The wing-T is prolific and balanced with Broughan Jantz and a host or runners including Drew Hoskin, and the defense is formidable behind LBs Eric Niederberger, Zach Vallejo and Juan Espinosa. Only loss was in Week 2 to Rocklin (9-0) 41-36.
Next is a regular-season finale against Davis (2-7).
Quality wins (with records excluding loss to NU): Natomas (6-2) 34-0; Franklin-Elk Grove (5-3) 49-28.
Game-face pulse: Thrilled yet thirsting for more.

6. Tracy (9-0)
Belted Franklin-Stockton 44-0 to wrap up the San-Joaquin Athletic Association title with the school's best club since the 1982 section title team. Next is Lodi (4-5) and then the D-I playoffs.
Quality wins (with records excluding loss to Tracy): Los Banos (6-2) 27-24; Manteca (6-2) 35-20; Washington-Fremont (6-2) 42-21; Lincoln-Stockton (7-1) 37-21.
Game-face pulse: Ecstatic with best team three decades.

7. Folsom (8-1)
The Bulldogs beat Pleasant Grove 27-26 in overtime to keep their Delta River League hopes alive. Folsom has the terrific spread offense and QB Dano Graves and receivers Kori Babineaux and Tyler Trosin and RB Jordan Richards. The Bulldogs seek their first league title since 1990. Next is Sheldon (7-2).
Quality wins (with records excluding loss to Folsom): Oak Ridge (6-2) 54-33; Sacramento (5-3) 69-26; Franklin-Elk Grove (5-3) 43-13; Casa Roble (5-3) 55-33; Pleasant grove (6-2) 27-26.
Game-face pulse: Delighted with OT win and good health.

8. Del Campo (8-1)
The Cougars geared their seasons to take on rival Casa Roble and it paid off in full with a 24-0 victory in Orangevale to clinch the Capital Athletic League championship. Leaders Ryan Dimino, Eddie Plantaric, Jaron Wilson and Orlando Ortiz led the way. It's looking like a Del Campo-Inderkum title tilt in D-III. Next is Bella Vista (7-2). Only loss is to Woodcreek, which also stunned Del Oro.
Quality wins (with records excluding loss to Del Campo): Pleasant Grove (6-2) 20-7; Mira Loma (6-2) 30-6; Casa Roble (5-3) 24-0.
Game-face pulse: Pleased defensively, and delighted with Casa rout.

9. Del Oro (7-2)
There can't be too many teams in the state more dangerous and more frustrated with a two-game skid than this one. The Golden Eagles went for it on 4th-and-10 late at Rocklin and came up short in a game in which Bryce Pratt played strong in the second half and tight end Adrian Williams showed that he could be a major recruit next season as a senior. Next is Oakmont and a chance to build some steam heading into the meat-grinder D-II playoffs. Losses are to Woodcreek (16-9) and here.
Quality wins (with records excluding loss to Del Oro): California-San Ramon (5-3) 28-21; Cardinal Newman-Santa Rosa (5-3) 49-14; Franklin-Elk Grove (5-3) 62-12; Granite Bay (7-1) 27-21 OT.
Game-face pulse: Irritable, grouchy, steaming.

10. Granite Bay (7-2)
The mark of the great programs is how they recover after defeat. After back-to-back setbacks to Del Oro and Rocklin, the Grizzlies have rolled Roseville 70-28 and Oakmont 51-14 and now prepare for giant-killer Woodcreek, which has beaten Del Campo and Del Oro.
Quality wins (with records excluding loss to Granite Bay): Pittsburg-Antioch (5-3) 30-20; Burbank (6-2) 22-6: Vacaville (8-0) 31-13; Point Loma-San Diego (6-2) 22-12; Oakmont (5-3) 51-14.
Game-face pulse: Pleased but hardly satisfied just yet.

On the bubble: Lincoln (9-0); Pleasant Grove (6-3); Monterey Trail (7-2); Vacaville (8-1); Vanden (9-0); Oakdale (8-1); Placer (8-1).

November 7, 2009
Despite up-and-down season, Casa Roble football has drawing power

Rivalries and winning teams are nice for more than riveting football games.

They produce huge gates, which is a plus for cash-strapped athletic programs.

One of the hardest spots to try to find a parking spot Friday night was on the surrounding streets near Orangevale's Casa Roble High School.

The No. 16 Rams were playing host to No. 7 Del Campo, their fierce Capital Athletic League rivals.

Despite a drizzly night, more than 4,000 packed the Rams' stadium to watch the Cougars (8-1, 4-0) defeat Casa Roble 24-0 behind incomparable senior quarterback Ryan Dimino, who rushed for two touchdowns and threw for a third in going over 3,000 combined rushing and passing yards this season.

But even though the Rams (5-4, 3-1) didn't play well Friday, they continue to generate the kind of interest that equals additional dollars for a Casa Roble athletic department that, like many schools, is more dependent than ever on parent and community gate support because of school district budget constraints.

Crowds for Casa Roble football games have steadily grown since coach Norm Ryan took the reins as coach eight years ago after the Rams had muddled through three consecutive 1-9 seasons.

During that stretch, the Rams have won 66 games, four league championships and the school's first section football title. That came last season when Casa Roble enjoyed a storybook 13-0 season.

Under Ryan and former offensive coordinator Jeff Baer (he retired after last season), the Rams were one of the first area teams to run the spread offense, which has been a crowd pleaser at those schools that run it well.

"Since our team stated winning, people get on the bandwagon," says Casa Roble athletic director Jorie Baer, Jeff's wife. "The offense helps. It's made a huge difference because it's not a boring game."

It hasn't hurt that neighboring Bella Vista also has developed a strong program under third-year coach Matt Polston.

She said last year's Bella Vista at Casa Roble game produced one of the biggest crowd's in school history, with nearly 5,000 spectators packing a stadium that seats fewer than 3,000.

"We generate crowds for Del Campo because of the football competitiveness," she said. "But Bella Vista is the neighborhood rivalry. The kids grow up with each other. They know each other, and they are talking constantly to one another.

"It's always been big, but has gotten even bigger since Bella Vista started winning."

Baer understands that rivalry well. She played basketball at Bella Vista and led the Broncos' girls basketball team to a CIF state championship appearance in 1993 before moving over to Casa Roble.

November 6, 2009
A look at some prep scores, and a thriller in Rocklin

What a great night of high school football.

I covered the Rocklin-Del Oro thriller, with Rocklin holding on 24-21 as Jackson Cummings scored two short touchdowns to offset a monstrous second half by Bryce Pratt. Great atmosphere, typical overflow, tense Sierra Foothill League showdown. Rocklin holds off Del Oro with a minute to go as a 4th and goal TD pass attempt falls incomplete.

It was also good to see resident blogger/comment contributors to the posts in dsore, theblackswan and a host of others who check out prep games because of the thrill of it, whether or not their teams are involved or not.
Other scores as of this moment include:

Folsom 27, Pleasant Grove 26 in overtime (Dano Graves winning TD pass and PG misses extra point in OT)
Nevada Union 35, Elk Grove 14 (another monster game for Eric Niederberger)
Del Campo 24, Casa Roble 0 (3 TDs for Ryan Dimino)
Lincoln 29, Bear River 15
Placer 34, Colfax 27
Granite Bay 51, Oakmont 14
CBS 72, Cordova 36
St. Mary's 49, Tokay 13
Natomas 35, River Valley 8
Sierra 44, Oakdale 42 (Oakdale's first loss)
Sheldon 28, Florin 0
Franklin 34, Davis 7
Laguna Creek 44, Valley 0

November 5, 2009
Oak Ridge, Rocklin, St. Mary's, Christian Brothers grab top seeds in volleyball playoffs

The Sac-Joaquin Section volleyball playoff brackets are out and if there's a theme, it's that the usual suspects look to be in prime position once again.

Defending Division II champion Oak Ridge grabbed the top seed in Division I as the Trojans moved up a division this year. Perennial power Rocklin is the top seed in D-II while three-time defending D-III champion St. Mary's of Stockton is tops in that division once again, as is four-time defending D-IV champion Christian Brothers.

For the first time in five years Nevada Union is not the top seed in Division I, instead the Miners grabbed the No. 11 seed and if they are to win their unprecedented eighth straight title must do it on the road, including a possible trip to No. 2 seed Napa, which took the Miners to the limit in last year's D-I final.

Click here for the D-I bracket

With its sweep of Nevada Union last night Rocklin won its second straight Sierra Foothill League title and vaulted itself to the top seed in D-II ensuring it home-court advantage until the Section finals at UC Davis.

St. Francis will be the No. 2 seed in D-II by way of an unblemished record in the Delta River League -- the ninth straight year the Troubadours have not dropped a match in league play. The Troubadours have a brutal road in front of them if they are to get back to the D-II final for the third straight year as they would face either seventh-seeded Roseville or No. 10 seed Ponderosa in the second round and possibly No. 6 seed Granite Bay or No. 3 seed Atwater in the semifinals.

Click here for the D-II bracket

Three-time defending champion St. Mary's of Stockton has the top seed in D-III. El Camino, which under first-year coach Martin Soyama swept through the Capital Athletic League with a 15-0 record, is the No. 3 seed while Del Oro, seeking just its second section championship and first in 30 years, holds the sixth seed.

Click here for the D-III bracket

Four-time defending champion Christian Brothers holds the top seed in D-IV but likely will have to go through perennial challengers Ripon (No. 3) and Golden Sierra (No. 5).

Click here for the D-IV bracket

Bradshaw Christian snatched the top seed in D-V while defending champion Ripon Christian, one of the most decorated schools in the section in terms of volleyball championships with 12, will be the No. 10 seed. Woodland Christian has the No. 5 seed but to get back to the section finals for the fifth time in seven years the Cardinals would have to go through the Pride in the semifinals, which would be a rematch from last year.

Click here for the D-V bracket

November 5, 2009
A closer look at The Bee's Top 20 football rankings

Here's a closer look at The Bee's Top 20 football rankings with comments.

This will be a major weekend of football with league title tilts. And possibly more rankings upheaval. If Del Oro beats Rocklin, Folsom beats Pleasant Grove, Dixon beats Rio Linda and Casa Roble beats Del Campo, there will be a major rankings shakeup.

The Bee's Top 20

1. Grant (8-0)
Pacers have lost to two local teams since the end of the 2005 season (Burbank and Ponderosa in 2007) and have won 22 straight. End with McClatchy and Burbank before playoff march.

2. Rocklin (8-0)
Wins over then No. 2 Nevada Union and then No. 3 Granite Bay prove staying power with previous No. 2 Del Oro next. Very legit team that seeks first D-II section title.

3. Inderkum (8-0)
Should improve to 10-0 and maybe 13-0, though Casa Roble and Del Campo will be in D-III playoffs, too. Loaded with excellent leader coach in Terry Stark.

4. Nevada Union (7-1)
Lost only to Rocklin in a game Miners felt was theirs; been inpsired and prolific ever since and should cap regular-season 9-1 for second straight season and seeks another D-I title.

5. Del Oro (7-1)
Lost to pesky Woodcreek, the same team that also beat then No. 4 Del Campo; big win over then No. 2 Granite Bay; Rocklin next with a chance to redeem Woodcreek loss.

6. Granite Bay (6-2)
Close losses to then No. 3 Del Oro and then No. 4 Rocklin; dangerous playoff team to be sure that could roll from here behind Matt Kine and host of others.

7. Del Campo (7-1)
That loss to Woodcreek kickstarted Cougars; 20-7 win over Pleasant Grove in Week 5 justifies high ranking, with biggest game of year next at Casa Roble.

8. Pleasant Grove (6-2)
Have impressed since loss to Del Campo, routing Sheldon and rallying to beat Monterey Trail in recent showings. Matt Robinson, Taylor Congdon and Jalen Sauders are studs.

9. Monterey Trail (6-2)
Six-game winning streak ended in 28-21 loss Friday to Pleasant Grove; still major D-I threat that could roll from here behind that fast and fierce defense.

10. Folsom (7-1)
Lost 2 weeks ago to Monterey Trail 22-21 in overtime; all is good again with win Friday over Pleasant Grove, which prompts soar in rankings. Look for Dano Graves to be inspired.

11. Lincoln (8-0)
Best team since 1970, and probably best team in school history with wins over Whitney and Placer and 10-0 start likely for a team that has never won a section title.

12. Rio Linda (8-0)
Never off to this good of a start, though detractors wonder about ranked foes. Friday against Dixon is major test for Capital Valley Conference title.

13. Placer (7-1)
Agonizingly tough loss to Lincoln will inspire Hillmen from here; beat Casa Roble on last play this season - and beat Woodcreek. Whitney looms huge now.

14. Whitney (6-2)
Losses only to unbeaten Oakdale and unbeaten Lincoln on late play; battling rash of injuries yet still dangerous. Showdown with Placer looms.

15. Oak Ridge (5-3)
Beat Casa Roble, CBS and Vista del Lago when those teams were all ranked; darkhorse threat in D-I after winning five straight, and counting.

16. Casa Roble (5-3)
Close losses to Placer and Oak Ridge and a blowout loss to Folsom, yet this is the CAL champs with win over Del Campo on Friday. Have won 4 CAL titles this decade.

17. Sheldon (6-2)
Losses only to Monterey Trail and Pleasant Grove in successive weeks, and still strong despite major injuries. QB Raymond Dickerson is a real talent.

18. Burbank (5-3)
Losses to CBS and Granite Bay early with chance to show how good the Titans are in Week 10 showdown at Grant, the last Metro team to beat the Pacers (in 2007).

19. Dixon (7-1)
Only loss was to still unbeaten Vanden, in a rout, with a chance to win Capital Valley Conference on Friday against Rio Linda, a repeat of last year.

20. Vista del Lago (5-3)
First year with seniors and Vista lost 7-6 to Oak Ridge in what likely was the Sierra Valley Conference title game.

November 5, 2009
A look at the latest NorCal Top 15 with 6 local teams

A look at the Cal-Hi Sports/ESPN Northern California Top 15. Notice how Cal-Hi kept Del Oro ranked ahead of Nevada Union. Rocklin moves up to No. 5. All rankings are interesting, all good for conversation.

Northern California Overall Top 15 (CIF North Open Division)
1. (1) Grant (Sacramento) 8-0
2. (2) De La Salle (Concord) 6-2
3. (3) St. Mary's (Stockton) 8-0
4. (5) Amador Valley (Pleasanton) 7-1
5. (7) Rocklin 8-0
6. (8) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 7-0-1
7. (9) Bellarmine Prep (San Jose) 6-1-1
8. (11) Berkeley 9-0
9. (12) Palma (Salinas) 6-1-1
10. (6) St. Francis (Mountain View) 6-2
11. (4) Del Oro (Loomis) 7-1
12. (10) Granite Bay 6-2
13. (14) Oakdale 8-0
14. (15) Nevada Union (Grass Valley) 7-1
15. (NR) Serra (San Mateo) 5-3

Breakdown: Although Del Oro lost a game last week, 16-9, to Woodcreek of Roseville, that still wasn't enough to drop the Golden Eagles all the way out from the NorCal top 15. Already on the year, Del Oro has picked up impressive wins over California of San Ramon, Cardinal Newman of Santa Rosa and Granite Bay and will have a chance for another huge win this week and a chance at winning the Sierra Foothill League with a road game at Rocklin. The Thunder is currently alone atop the league standings at a perfect 8-0, including a 14-7 win on the road two weeks ago vs. Granite Bay. Rocklin also has handed Nevada Union its only loss of the season. If Del Oro beats Rocklin, all three SFL teams would be in the NorCal top 15. If Rocklin wins, Granite Bay may have to drop in the rankings as well since it has a head-to-head loss to Del Oro. The only other team to lose last week from the NorCal rankings was previous No. 13 Los Gatos. The Wildcats have been hit with some injuries and fell to Palo Alto. Serra was put back in even with three losses since those losses have come against De La Salle, St. Francis and Bellarmine in close games. The Padres also are playing Archbishop Mitty this week.

November 4, 2009
Grant slips in Bee's prep playoff projection

Grant has slipped from the top seed to the No. 3 seed in Division II in this week's prep football playoff projection. See the complete projections for all divisions in Nathaniel Levine's Week 8 charts.

November 4, 2009
Video highlights: October high school football games

Check out some of the best players from high school football games in October as seen during Access Sacramento's Game of the Week. Schools include Del Campo, Pleasant Grove, Cosumnes Oaks, Rio Linda, Rosemont and Sacramento. Full game coverage with Will James and Jim Dimino can be seen on Comcast and Surewest Cable Channel 17 on Tuesday's at 7 pm, Friday's and 8 pm and Saturday's at noon.

November 2, 2009
St. Francis, Oak Ridge, Christian Brothers advance to NorCal golf championships

St. Francis, led by senior Marissa Mar's one-under par 71, shot 373 en route to winning the Sac-Joaquin Section Master's Meet at The Reserve at Spanos Park in Stockton on Monday.

The Troubadours, along with Oak Ridge (437) and Christian Brothers (446) qualified for the CIF NorCal championships next Monday at Almaden Park in San Jose.

Mar's 71 tied Enochs of Modesto's Shawnee Martinez for the lowest score of the day, followed by Granite Bay freshman Paige Lee, who shot a 72.

Center's Sagee Palavivatana (73) and Lodi's Marissa Hinchman (75) will join Martinez and Lee as individual qualifiers from the Sac-Joaquin Section for the NorCal tournament.

November 1, 2009
Latest Dimino's Dozen Prep football rankings

The weekly look at the Jim Dimino "Dimino Dozen" rankings with eight additional teams.
Dimino is the long-time color analyst for the Access Sacramento "Game of the Week" (check local listings and on this prep site for weekly highlights).

Dimino's Dozen Rankings
(and The Red Zone teams)
1. Grant 8-0
2. Inderkum (8-0
3. Rocklin (8-0)
4. Nevada Union (7-1)
5. Folsom (7-1)
6. Del Oro (7-1)
7. Del Campo (7-1)
8. Pleasant Grove (6-2)
9. Granite Bay (6-2)
10. Rio Linda (8-0)
11. Monterey Trail (6-2)
12. Lincoln (8-0)
In The Red Zone
13. Placer (7-1)
14. Oak Ridge (5-3)
15. Casa Roble (5-3)
16. Sheldon (6-2)
17. Whitney (6-2)
18. Burbank (6-2)
19. Dixon (7-1)
20. Vista del Lago (5-3)

About the Prep blog

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

Subscribe to Sports Breaking News alerts

Find us on Facebook

Prep Blog on Twitter

Follow "sacbee_preps" and "Sb_joedavidson" on Twitter

May 2013

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31  

Monthly Archives