December 28, 2009
Sacramento area well represented in final NorCal football rankings

The CalHiSports/ESPN final Northern California football rankings show what we have suggested all fall: it was a banner season for the area. The area has never had this many teams ranked this high.

A debate in the Bay Area is this: The Central Coast Section and the West Catholic Athletic League in particular is superior to any group of teams in the Sac-Joaquin Section. That, of course, is absurd as those bloggers defend Bellarmine's beat-down loss at home to St, Mary's as "we were young and it was early."

Here's a look at the rankings, with SoCal rankings below the NorCal grouping.

CalHiSports Northern California
Overall Top 25
Bee comments attached for extra punch

1. (1) De La Salle (Concord) 13-2
Spartans have not lost to a NorCal team since '91; beat 14-0 Crenshaw in state Open game.
2. (2) Rocklin 14-1
Only team to beat Nevada Union; beat Del Oro twice; gutty 33-30 loss to Servite in D-II bowl
3. (3) Grant (Sacramento) 12-1
Beat nationally ranked Bellevue, great defense all season with state-record 77 sacks; lost to Rocklin.
4. (not ranked) Bullard (Fresno) 13-0
Best year in tradition rich program; team feels slighted for not getting a bowl bid (went to Bellarmine)
5. (4) Bellarmine (San Jose) 11-2-1
Bells are good but better than NU? Led most of the way against 14-0 Oceanside in D-I bowl.
6. (5) Nevada Union (Grass Valley) 13-1
Lost only by 5 to Rocklin; steamed to program's fourth D-I section since 1993; felt slighted by bowl pick
7. (6) Del Oro (Loomis) 11-3
Beat Granite Bay; in playoffs beat St. Mary's and Folsom on road; great year for O-line, RB Bryce Pratt.
8. (7) St. Mary's (Stockton) 11-1
Major win Bellarmine rout; lost to Del Oro in playoffs despite team's first 10-0 start and major talent.
9. (9) Folsom 11-2
A team for next year, too, with QB Dano Graves (66 total touchdowns); beat Granite Bay in D-II playoffs.
10. (12) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 9-1-1
Beat Bellarmine on the field in league play, though goes down as a tie in meat-grinder league.
11. (10) Monte Vista (Danville) 9-4
Traditional power had another strong showing.
12. (16) Del Campo (Fair Oaks) 13-1
Only team to beat Inderkum; great defense and Bee Player of Year Ryan Dimino set state records.
13. (14) Granite Bay 9-3
Grizzlies lost only to Del Oro in OT, by a score to Rocklin and to the machine of Folsom; great program.
14. (13) Monterey Trail (Elk Grove) 11-3
Get used to seeing the Mustangs here as coach T.J. Ewing has the program on fast-track success with veer.
15. (11) St. Francis (Mountain View) 9-4
Another member of the brutally tough Central Coast Section's West Catholic League.
16. (NR) Marin Catholic (Kentfield) 13-2
Impressed in state D-III bowl, though Del Campo would've loved a shot at them in a NorCal bowl.
17. (NR) Buchanan (Clovis) 10-1
Always great football in football mad Fresno area.
18. (8) Inderkum (Sacramento) 13-1
Only loss was most painful one - to Del Campo is rain and nasty elements in D-III title game.
19. (NR) Modesto Christian 15-0
Section D-IV champs impressed in small-school state bowl; first section team to go 15-0.
20. (NR) Tracy 11-1
10-0 start had a lot thinking of the 1980s teams before stunner loss in Round II of playoffs to Los Banos.
21. (NR) Centennial (Bakersfield) 9-4
Feels like SoCal down in Bakersfield, but they are a NorCal-ranked team with tradition.
22. (NR) Pleasant Grove (Elk Grove) 9-4
Eagles are force under coach Joe Cattolico; beat Monterey Trail, lost to NU, Del Campo.
23. (NR) Valley Christian (San Jose) 8-4
San Jose power used to play Grant but got beat up so bad gave up the series; still major force in Bay.
24. (NR) Enterprise (Redding) 11-1
Section champs from up north hope to someday North Section in a bowl.
25. (15) Pittsburg 9-5
Traditional power was handled by Granite Bay early and then really handled by De La Salle later.

Southern California
Overall Top 35

1. (3) Servite (Anaheim) 14-1
2. (2) Oceanside 14-0
3. (1) Crenshaw (Los Angeles) 14-1
4. (4) Serra (Gardena) 15-0
5. (6) Edison (Huntington Beach) 13-1
6. (5) Oaks Christian (Westlake Village) 13-1
7. (7) Westlake (Westlake Village) 14-0
8. (8) Mission Viejo 12-1
9. (9) Lakewood 11-2
10. (11) Chaparral (Temecula) 11-3
11. (12) Vista Murrieta (Murrieta) 13-1
12. (13) Eastlake (Chula Vista) 11-1-1
13. (14) Moorpark 12-2
14. (15) Norco 11-2
15. (16) Bishop Amat (La Puente) 10-2
16. (17) St. Bonaventure (Ventura) 11-2
17. (19) Mission Bay (San Diego) 13-0
18. (20) Centennial (Corona) 10-3
19. (21) Redlands East Valley (Redlands) 11-1
20. (22) Cathedral Catholic (San Diego) 12-1
21. (23) Upland 12-2
22. (18) Vista 10-3
23. (24) Long Beach Poly (Long Beach) 6-6
24. (NR) Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach) 12-2
25. (NR) Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks) 9-3
26. (NR) Valencia 12-1
27. (NR) La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad) 11-1
28. (NR) Los Alamitos 8-3
29. (22) Narbonne (Harbor City) 8-6
30. (NR) Carson 10-3
31. (NR) Dana Hills (Dana Point) 9-3
32. (NR) La Habra 13-1
33. (25) Los Osos (Rancho Cucamonga) 9-5
34. (NR) Mission Hills (San Marcos) 9-3
35. (NR) Rancho Cucamonga 10-3

December 28, 2009
Amazing 57-yard field goal in Sacramento vs. East Bay prep All-Star game

The most amazing kick I've ever seen a high school player make was Saturday, at Grant, in the Sacramento vs. East Bay All-Star game. James Langford of Foothill High in Pleasanton boomed a 57-yarder in this 13-13 thriller of a tie.

Yes, 57 yards, meaning he stood at the 50, waited for the snap, took steps forward and unloaded. Thanks to the East Bay fans for sending us this video link. No someone sign that kid up for a scholarship.

December 27, 2009
Another look at The Bee's All-Decade football team, and bring on the debates

Ok, because I am being flooded by readers who do not comprehend the All-Decade Football team, the criteria to be selected and who made the team. I will spell this out gently here one more time:

The team is based on high school achievements only and the players had to come from the immediate Sacramento area. Not Stockton, Merced, De La Salle, Napa or the Oregon border. It does not matter that a player made it to the NFL, or is doing well in college. Prep achievement only.

Here's the complete team again, with final year played listed (and remember, if you insist someone should have been on the team, then suggest who comes off; you can't just randomly declare that a bunch of guys "should be on there" unless you suggest with any degree of logic who should come off).

Player of the Decade: Austin Collie, Oak Ridge, 2003
Coach of the Decade: Mike Alberghini, Grant
Team of the Decade: Grant, 2008 (14-0)

QB-Dano Graves, Folsom, 2009
RB-James Montgomery, Cordova, 2005
RB-Devontae Butler, Grant, 2009
WR-Seyi Ajirotutu, Oak Ridge, 2004
WR-Tony Kays, Elk Grove, 2001
TE-Louie Stanfill, Jesuit, 2002
TE-Matt Traverso, CBS, 2001
OL-Matt Kopa, Elk Grove, 2004
OL-Kenny Wiggins, Elk Grove, 2005
OL-Taylor Dever, Nevada Union, 2006
OL-Devan Cunningham, Grant, 2006
OL-Christian Tupou, Grant, 2006
K-Nick Huppe, Del Oro, 2005
All-Purpose-Ryan Dimino, Del Campo, 2009
Return specialist-Sammie Stroughter, Granite Bay, 2003

DL-Sean Nill, Laguna Creek, 2008
DL-Vei Moala, Grant, 2009
DL-Andrew Jackson, Nevada Union, 2005
DL-Armond Armstead, Pleasant Grove, 2007
DL-Bill Sherman, Del Oro, 2005
LB-Spencer Havner, Nevada Union, 2000
LB-Ryan Coulson, Elk Grove, 2005
LB-Terrance Pritchett, Grant, 2006
LB-Manase Hopoi, Valley, 2000
LB-Alan Darlin, Laguna Creek, 2003
DB-Syd Thompson, Grant, 2004
DB-Isaiah Frey, Jesuit, 2007
DB-Vince Mays, Johnson, 2001
DB-Matt Logue, Bear River, 2001
DB-Richard Watson, Grant, 2000

December 26, 2009
Thoughts and footage from Sacramento vs. East Bay All-Star football showcase from Grant High School

Today's Sacramento vs. East Bay All-Star game was a fitting way to end a superb 2009 high school football season.

There was so much speed on the field today that neither offense could get much going, so it went into double overtime as the teams tied 13-13 in the fourth annual Holiday Classic.

No one anticipated any overtime so there was confusion as to what to do in the extra session. With the team's using college football rules, the teams got their shots from the 25 yard line. And because there was still no real clarification as to how many overtimes would be too many, Sacramento went for a game-tying extra point after scoring the final touchdown. Had Sacramento known the game would abruptly be halted, offensive coordinator Casey Taylor of Del Oro said, "We would've gone for two!"

Regardless, it was a fun game with tremendous athletes.

John Parker will have a story, and we'll have photos, in The Bee on Sunday. For now, enjoy some highlights by my trusty assistant son, Cameron, otherwise known as JOCK - Junior Observer, Cameron-know-it-all.

JOCK got a great shot, up close and personal, of Ian Rhodes pulling in a Broughan Jantz strike down to the 1. And later, in the second overtime, JOCK has the game-tying scoring plunge from James Nunley.

What we didn't get - and none of us can hardly believe - is the 57-yard field goal from the East Bay stars. It's the longest prep field goal I have ever seen.

The public announcer's voice in these highlights is from Rich Payne, the absolute best in the business, from Folsom High.

December 26, 2009
Coaches, organizers made right call ending Holiday Classic in a tie

Many people thought today's Holiday Classic all-star football game between the Sacramento All-Stars and the best from the East Bay would finally settle the score and determine which Northern California enclave plays the best high school football.

In reality, it's more like a first step.

After 48 brutal minutes of defensive dominance and two thrilling overtime periods the East Bay, with the score tied 13-13, said it had played enough football and the Sacramento coaches agreed.

"We don't want anyone getting hurt," event organizer Matt Williams said.

Though the 3/4 capacity crowd at Grant didn't want to see it end that way -- and with the intensity and ferocity with which the game was played, who can blame them? -- the right call was made. These guys have too much to play for, too much in front of them to risk a Boobie Miles-type injury playing in a game that, for all intents and purposes, is an exhibition.

"Ending this game in a tie is no crime," said Grant coach Mike Alberghini, who guided the Sacramento All-Stars defense. "This is supposed to be a showcase and these kids were showcased."

The prevailing attitude among the players was similar to the fans. "Let's keep playing," was a common utterance on the sideline when the announcement to end the game was made.

"It's a little disappointing -- I know the fans didn't want to see a tie," said Nevada Union quarterback Broughan Jantz, who completed six of nine passes for 99 yards and three first downs.

Jantz's frustration is understandable albeit a little misguided.

The game gave players like him, with the ability and desire to play at the next level but as of yet without any scholarship offers, one last chance to prove themselves in person to college coaches.

"It gives them a chance to see not only my ability, but all these guys," he said.

It would be a shame to see what is certain to be a bright future in this sport for many like him cut short by injury in a game that, regardless of outcome, only proved that both areas are deep and rich in elite talent.

For others, like Oregon-bound Burbank cornerback Terrance Mitchell, it was a last hurrah before moving on to the next level.

"It was fun playing with all these guys we've played against for so long," said Mitchell, who in three weeks will graduate early in order to join the reigning Pac-10 champions for spring workouts. "We all came together to take it to the Bay."

We didn't get the answer to who plays the best football in NorCal today, but we did get a heck of a game -- one that very well may have saved the series after three blowouts in the first three games pitting Sacramento against Stockton-Modesto-Merced.

"I think we can grow this into a terrific showcase," Alberghini said. "We're so close together and each year we fight represent Northern California in the bowls - it makes sense.

"The best players in Northern California come from these two areas."

And at the very least we have something to talk about for the next year.

"That makes it more fun for us to try and settle the score next year," Williams said.

December 23, 2009
Sacramento-area prep football All-Stars play East Bay All-Stars Saturday at Grant

Yes, there's one more prep football game this season, All-Star style. Here's the breakdown"

What: 2009 Holiday Classic Football Game
Who: Sacramento All-Stars vs. East Bay All-Stars
Where: Grant High School, 2 p.m.

Sacramento All-Star
Coaches: Mike Alberghini, Grant; Casey Taylor Del Oro

QB-Broughan Jantz, Nevada Union
QB-Connor Benander, Oak Ridge
RB-Devontae Butler, Grant
RB-Bryce Pratt, Del Oro
RB-James Nunley, Woodcreek
TE-J.J. Castillo, Lincoln
WR-Alex Hubbard, Fairfield
WR-James Tillman, Pioneer
WR-Holden Huff, Rocklin
WR-Ian Rhodes, Granite Bay
Slot-Jackson Cummings, Rocklin
OL-Brian Reid, Rosemont
OL-Bryan Gates, Sheldon
OL-Adrian Hill, Grant
OL-Connor Raines, Ponderosa
OL-Alex Khan-Watson, Rio Linda
OL-Ian Joseph, El Dorado
OL-James Alon, Inderkum
OL-Travis Doupnik, Del Oro
OL-Lefi Latuligasenoa, Elk Grove
OL-Sione Fanaika, Florin
DL-Victor Amerson, Burbank
DL-Josh Hines, Jesuit
DL-Alex Gaines, Oakmont
DL-Jacob Tryon, Lincoln
DL-David Weider, Inderkum
DL-Sione Sina, Monterey Trail
LB-Ekenna Anyugafum CBS
LB-Cody Galea, Franklin
LB-Justin Hayden, Casa Roble
LB-Daniel Lessard, Rocklin
LB-Rozale Byrd, Monterey Trail
LB-Ryan Dimino, Del Campo
LB-Robert Isaacs, Grant
LB-Ashkan Mizani, Granite Bay
DB-Cameron Mikell, Rio Linda
DB-Terrance Mitchell, Burbank
DB-Scott Patalano, Casa Roble
DB-Myron Baldoz-McCarn, El Camino
DB-Anthony Serena, Bella Vista
DB-Ronald Fields, Grant
DB-Jalen Saunders, Pleasant Grove
DB-Orlando Ortiz, Del Campo
DB-Jay Flurry, Monterey Trail
K/P-Chase Brunson, Davis

East Bay All-Stars
Coaches Alonzo Carter, Berkeley; Chris Turner, Ygnacio Valley
QB-Andrew Spivey, Albany
QB-David Ross, Washington
RB-Terron Ward, De La Salle
RB-Ricky Galvin, Berkeley
RB-Richard Calhoun, Alhambra
RB-Patrone Wood, Ygnacio Valley
WR-Isaac Goins, El Cerrito
WR-Robert Jiles, Pittsburg
WR-Najee Lovett, St. Mary's-Berkeley
WR-Kristoff Williams, Deer Valley
WR-Jonathon Willis, James Logan
TE-Cameron Davis, St. Mary's
TE-Lenny Jones, San Leandro
OL-Brandon Grinstead, San Ramon Valley
OL-Daniel Marcel, Freedom
OL-Jonathon Murphy, Encinal
OL-Deandre Ward, Castlemont
OL-Sinilau Tauteol, Freemont
OL-Max Schultz, California
OL-Miles Tillman, Deer Valley
OL-Clyde Ignot, Deer Valley
OL-Jonathon Carlson, Clayton Valley
OL-Emilio Garcia-Sanchez, Alameda
DL-Fred Thompson, Oakland Tech
DL-William Stream, Castlemont
DL-Dave Taiese, McClymonds
DL-Cedric Lousi, Washington
DL-Sione Tupouata, Freemont
DL-Aaron Borton-Buford, Berkeley
DL-Kalafitoni, Pole, James Logan
DL-Thomas Patolo, Ygnacio Valley
LB-Jeremy Wiles, Pittsburg
LB-Keenan Coogler, Berkeley
LB-Evan Ward, Riordan
LB-Vince Buhagiar, Clayton Valley
LB-Ryan Murphy, Oakland Tech
LB-Dalton Turay, Amador Valley
DB-Tyrone Duckett, Encinal
DB-Dave Douglas, Oakland
DB-Andre Williams, El Cerrito
DB-Tracy Clark, Pittsburg
DB-Forrest Hightower, Concord
DB-Reggie Davis, California
DB-Mario Brown, Bishop O'Dowd
DB-Delency Parham, Berkeley
DB-Tyler Anderson, De La Salle
DB-Demonte Horton, Washington
DB-Brandon Williams, Deer Valley
K/P-James Langford, Foothill

December 19, 2009
Servite beats Rocklin 33-30 in CIF State Division II bowl game in Carson

Playing short handed and overcoming a 20-point third-quarter deficit in the third quarter, Rocklin High School rallied to make it a game against the No. 2 ranked team in the country in the CIF State Division II bowl game here in Carson.

But Servite High of Anaheim backed up its ranking with a 23-yard field goal as time ran out by Nicholas Echeverry, his fourth field goal of the game.

Rocklin had a stop on its on 2 when Sean Moore recovered a fumble with 2:35 to play. But Rocklin turned it over two plays later on an interception at its own 27 to set up the Friars' last scoring opportunity.

Tiger Sorenson played admirably in place of starting quarterback and good friend Jimmy Laughrea, hitting Holden Huff for two touchdowns.

Rocklin finished 14-1 in its best season - and arguably the second greatest season in regional history. Grant went 14-0 last season, capped by a win over nationally ranked No. 2 Long Beach Poly in the state open game that instantly added credibility to the Sacramento football product in general.

Rocklin carried the torch this postseason, downing Grant - and ending the Pacers' 26-game winning streak - 21-19 in a section semifinal game.

December 19, 2009
Cummings TD ties score at 30-30; see more photos

Jackson Cummings has scored a touchdown and the score is now 30-30 in the fourth quarter.

Meanwhile, see Bee photographer Randall Benton's most recent game photos from the second quarter. To view them, click here.

December 19, 2009
Now it's a championship game to the finish between Rocklin and Servite

So much for any notion of a blowout.

Down 14-0, 17-7, 30-10 - huge holes given the opponent - Rocklin has stormed back in this CIF Division II state bowl game against national No. 2 Servite of Anaheim to tie it 30-30 with 8:51 left in the game here at the Home Depot Center in Carson.

Jackson Cummings has scored the last two touchdowns on runs for the Thunder, seeking to become the first area team to go 15-0. Tiger Sorenson has thrown two touchdowns to Holden Huff.

December 19, 2009
Rocklin cuts Servite lead early in 4th in showing some championship moxie

Jackson Cummings scored on a 17-yard touchdown run a moment ago here in Carson as Rocklin cut it to 30-23 in the CIF State Division II bowl game at the Home Depot Center.

Rocklin played tentative and nervour early and trailed 14-0 after an interception set up one score and a 55-yard punt return accounted for the second score.

Tiger Sorenson has played well in place of injured starter Jimmy Laughrea, hitting Holden Huff for two touchdown passes.

December 19, 2009
Rocklin's Huff scores on second TD pass from Sorenson

Rocklin is trying to battle back and has scored on the second Sorenson to Huff touchdown pass of the game.

But the task at hand is still daunting as Servite of Anaheim leads 30-17 with just under three minutes left in the third quarter in the CIF State Division III bowl game in Carson. Servite is running, passing, playing good defense and playing well on special teams with a 55-yard punt return and booming field goals of 47, 39 and 43 yards.

Tiger Sorenson has played well in place of injured starter Jimmy Laughrea, hitting Holden Huff for two touchdowns.

The 27 points Servite scored in the first half was the most Rocklin has allowed in a half all season. Rocklin is 14-0 and Servite is 13-1.

December 19, 2009
Check out more first half photos

See Bee photographer Randall Benton's most recent game photos from the second quarter. To view them, click here.

December 19, 2009
Servite leads Rocklin 27-10 at the half of State D-II Bowl game in Carson

Servite High School of Anaheim, the No. 2 ranked team in the country according to, leads Rocklin 27-10 at the half of the CIF Division II State Bowl championship game here in Carson.

Rocklin played nervous early, throwing an interception on its first series then allowing a punt return for a score on its second possession. Tiger Sorenson, starting in place of injured starter Jimmy Laughrea, hit Holden Huff for a 29-yard touchdown to cut the Friars lead to 14-7.

Servite is 13-1, having avenged its only loss of the season by beating Edison of Huntington Beach 16-6 in the Southern Section title game. Edison had been ranked No. 1 in the country.

Rocklin is enjoying its best football season since the school opened in 1993. The Thunder is 14-0, including beating Grant in a Sac-Joaquin Section D-II semifinal, and Del Oro in the D-II finals.

In an effort to off-set the loss of Laughrea, a junior with a nice deep ball touch, Rocklin has offered all sorts of offensive looks to Servite, a private school power that won its first football postseason title 50 seasons ago.

Rocklin has gone with Sorenson out of shotgun, Jackson Cummings out of the "Wildcat" and with receiver Kyle Garvella taking snaps. Cody Fajardo of Servite has been superb at quarterback for Servite, running and throwing, including 70-yard touchdown bomb.

December 19, 2009
Photo gallery from Rocklin-Servite game

See Bee photographer Randall Benton's game photos.
Click here

December 19, 2009
Servite leads Rocklin 17-7 after 1 in State D-II Bowl game in Carson

Servite High School of Anaheim, ranked second in the country, leads Rocklin 17-7 after one quarter in the CIF State Division II bowl championship game here in Carson.

Rocklin played nervous early, with an interception ending its first series and a punt return for a touchdown capping the second possession. Rocklin cut it to 14-7 on a touchdown strike from Tiger Sorenson to Holden Huff before Servite boomed a 47-yard field goal for a 17-7 lead.

Rocklin is 14-0 and Servite is 13-1.

December 17, 2009
Rio Americano mom makes moving video tribute for fallen Jesuit basketball star; ceremony is Friday at Jesuit

Friday night at Jesuit will be one of the most emotional scenes a school, a family and a team can ever expect to endure.

And those in attendance will also experience and witness an amazing gift of compassion and sportsmanship.

Before Jesuit and Rio Americano tip off a nonleague boys basketball showdown, there will be a video tribute and jersey retirement for former Jesuit standout Mike Ford. He died in June at 19 of a heart condition, similar to that of what felled Hank Gathers and so many athletes. So sudden and never any closure.

The sportsmanship comes in the form of Jodi Nathanson, a Rio Americano parent whose son Zach is the Raiders leading scorer who admired how Ford competed. Zach reminded his mom that Ford had a game to remember against Rio two seasons ago. So Nathanson compiled a highlight tape of Ford from that game - the decent thing to do, she said today - and it will be part of Friday's ceremony.

Remember, in terms of intense rivalries in basketball, none tops the Jesuit-Rio showdowns. This gesture will become a highlight between the programs. You can see the moving tribute here.

Now the sad irony. Ford's parents, Lorie and David, never missed their son's games. Except one. The Rio-Jesuit game from 2007. They will see their son one last time, in footage on a large screen in front of a packed gym, as they will be greeted and consoled by scores of friends and past classmates and teammates of their son.

"We're extremely touched by the kind of love and giving (Nathanson) is giving us with this, and I hope it's not just a reflection of the player Michael was but also the person he was," David Ford said. "Here is our cross-town rival doing this, and I can't say enough. Very nice. I don't know where else Michael was happier than playing for his school, representing his school."

David and Lorie Ford hope to peak awareness on heart conditions for teenage athletes. Their son had gone through multiple physicals, been in and out of hospitals for other ailments and no tests ever detected any heart problems. An autopsy revealed that his heart was excessively large.

The Fords urge families with athletes to check into their family history of heart trouble, to get extra tests. In other words, don't wind up like them - broken hearted over the loss of a son who still had so much more to give.

"In Michael's case, they said that the first symptom is collapsing and death," David Ford said. "I want to help educate others to get checked out. Look for any warning signs. If I can help one family, I'd walk over coals to do it. I can't imagine anything harder than losing your child. It's been the hardest thing for us to deal with. It will forever be the darkest day for me seeing him in that hospital bed and nothing we can do."

December 17, 2009
Despite injury to QB, don't count out Rocklin in CIF bowl

The logical thing to do here is pick the healthy team, the one playing in its virtual back yard, the one nationally ranked No. 2.

Servite over Rocklin makes the most sense in trying to break this CIF Division II bowl championship game down, but not so fast.

We're talking Rocklin here. The 14-0 Thunder. This unique group that has gone from 4-6 a year ago to the cusp of maybe the greatest team moment in the history of Placer County. The Thunder that has found a way, has soared from non-ranked status by The Bee in September to No. 1 in this region and No. 2 in Northern California behind De La Salle.

Yes, Jimmy Laughrea, Rocklin's fine junior quarterback, is out with a broken arm. Yes, that's a major blow. But look who takes over. Tiger Sorenson is very capable, very dangerous. Remember, he was the starter a year ago before a broken collarbone sidelined him. His teammates believe in him. His coaches believe in him. His student body believes in him. Same with the community.

How can you lose with all that support? You don't. Now you just play the game.

The offensive line has been strong all season. Tailback Jackson Cummings has been superb. So have receivers Holden Huff and Kyle Garvella. Do they every run a bad route, ever drop a pass?

And the defense. Every one of them has had moments of impact, from Andrew McEwan to B.J. Roberts, Sean Moore to Daniel Lessard to Chris Clowdus to the Cooper brothers and others.

Rocklin wasn't supposed to go 14-0 this season. Not with the meat-grinder Sierra Foothill League were very few teams have ever gone unbeaten. The players will even admit that 14-0 was outlandish thinking in August.

But here it is. Beating Grant was no fluke. Rocklin earned that win in every regard, just as it did in beating Del Oro for the section Division II title.

And now this. Logic points to Servite. A hunch tells us otherwise.

December 16, 2009
Neto named All-American

Former Christian Brothers volleyball standout and 2008 Bee Player of the Year Kayla Neto was named an honorable mention All-American by the American Volleyball Coaches Association on Wednesday.

Neto, a freshman middle blocker at Cal State Fullerton, has already been named the Freshman of the Year by the Big West Conference and the Pacific Region Freshman of the Year by the AVCA.

This year Neto pounded home 305 kills, had a team-high 79 blocks (including 18 solo stuffs), and a .319 attack percentage which is the third-best single-season mark in school history.

December 13, 2009
State bowl picks are slap in face to public school football teams

The California Interscholastic Federation section commissioners just don't get it.

While patting themselves on the back for a job well done, they continue to go out of their way to slap the face of the majority of constituents they represent.

How can it be any other way when the 10 commissioners voted today for the selection of seven private schools to play in the five state bowl games on Friday and Saturday at the Home Depot Center in Carson?

Rocklin will be the only public school to represent Northern California. The Thunder was selected for the D-II bowl game against Servite of Anaheim, a parochial school.

Although private school enrollment is significantly smaller than public school enrollment in California, 20 of the 32 representatives that will or have played in this game during the event's four-year existence are private schools.

One can talk about strength of schedule, etc., but the bottom line is that there seems to be a bias among the commissioners for private schools that generally have larger followings, better alumni support and stronger reputations than most public schools.

The real travesty is in the D-I North selection of Bellarmine Prep of San Jose over Nevada Union.

NU had the better overall record at 13-1, and its only loss was early in the season by five points to unbeaten Rocklin. Bellarmine finished 11-1-1 and had a 24-point home loss to St. Mary's of Stockton, a team ousted by Del Oro in the section quarterfinals. Del Oro lost twice to Rocklin.

NU also was higher than Bellarmine in the esteemed D-I state bowl rankings conducted by Cal-Hi Sports.

But the Bells played the stronger schedule based on overall opponents' records and that appears to be the determining factor in the San Jose school's selection. (Or maybe the section commissioners decided to throw a bone to the Central Coast Section, which otherwise would not have had a representative in the game.)

Strength of schedule is a huge Catch-22 for public schools. Private schools like Bellarmine will always have high strength ratings because they are usually playing each other in private school leagues like the West Catholic Athletic League.

There are at least seven public schools in our area that could beat Bellarmine: Nevada Union, Rocklin, Del Oro, Grant, Inderkum, Folsom and Del Campo. All are public schools.

Those that did not win a section championship, of course, weren't eligible for consideration and most aren't in the same division as the Bells.

But like NU, D-III section champion Del Campo, 13-1, was a team that had no chance to go to this game because of strength of schedule issues and because so many public schools are lumped into the D-I or D-II divisions for state bowl consideration, another issue that needs to be addressed.

The commissioners have once again allowed the contentious public school vs. private school issue to rear its ugly head.

But do they care enough to do something about it? Today's vote suggests otherwise.

December 13, 2009
Section's D-III is proving a graveyard for state bowl hopefuls

The 10 California Interscholastic Federation section commissioners will meet later this morning to select the field for the five state bowl football games to be played Friday and Saturday at the Home Depot Center.

Don't expect Del Campo to be in the discussion after beating Inderkum Saturday night 16-12 in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III championship game. The Cougars finished 13-1.

Most pundits are giving Del Campo no chance of landing a spot as Northern California's representative in a bowl game. Undefeated Rocklin, which beat Del Oro 21-14 in Friday's D-II championship game, is expected to have the votes to be the D-II state bowl representative.

Even though it competes at the D-III level in section playoffs, Del Campo's enrollment is too large to be considered for the D-III state bowl game.

Del Campo coach Mike Dimino has no argument with Rocklin being selected. But he says if the CIF is serious about competing with Southern California teams it needs to start looking more seriously at finding more spots for Sacramento area teams.

"We would be a good representative for Northern California," Dimino said. "Sacramento football backs down from no one. Why not two teams? For that matter, why not three?"

Southern California holds a 9-2 advantage in the 11 games played over the previous three seasons. But the Sacramento area's only representative to date, Grant, beat Long Beach Poly in the Open Division stunner last year.

Del Campo, Inderkum, Rocklin and Del Oro, all section finalists this season, were a combined 5-0 against Bay Area teams.

Still, the likely bowl game scenario is this: De La Salle of Concord in the Open Game; Bellarmine of San Jose or Nevada Union in the D-I game, Rocklin in the D-II game; Marin Catholic in the D-III game and Modesto Christian in the Small Schools game.

It's looking like the Sac-Joaquin Section's D-III is a graveyard for teams that hope to play beyond the section finals.

Last year, 13-0 Casa Roble was passed over for a two-loss St. Mary's of Stockton team. The Rams were viewed as having played a stronger schedule.

The same fate likely would have befallen Inderkum had it defeated Del Campo on Saturday. The Tigers would have finished 14-0 -- and stayed home.

They wouldn't get the nod over a Rocklin team that has a D-II semifinal upset of Grant.

The Tigers also lack the reputation, strength of schedule and following to be considered for the Open Division slot that is expected to go to two-loss De La Salle.

December 13, 2009
Inderkum moves ball but Del Campo scores more points in D-III final

It was a tough way to lose a football game.

Coach Terry Stark's Inderkum team moved the ball on Del Campo most of the night in their Sac-Joaquin Section Division III championship game Saturday at Folsom High School, a game that was delayed more than an hour at the start of the second half by lightning.

The team some refer to as "Mini Grant" outgained Del Campo 453 to 301 in total yards.

Inderkum ran 65 plays; Del Campo 49.

And yet the Tigers lost 16-12, ruining their bid for a perfect season and their first section football championship. Instead both teams finish 13-1, but Del Campo gets the banner, the school's second in football.

Del Campo coach Mike Dimino says his program is stingy about allowing points and no game illustrated that more than this one for a team that allowed 132 points in 14 games.

Inderkum quarterback Demetrius Williams threw for 177 yards and scored on a one-yard run. Antonio Bumpers rushed for 93 yards and Devin Hartley and Jordan Adams combined for another 100, with Adams scoring a two-yard touchdown.

The Tigers scored touchdowns on a 91-yard drive in the first quarter and an 80-yard drive in the third quarter. But they had nothing to show on drives of 43, 49, 72 and 35 yards that ended, respectively, on an interception, a missed field goal attempt, an intentional grounding penalty and on downs with 30 seconds to play after four consecutive incompletions.

Inderkum's 453 total yards was just short of its average of 482 a game. But Inderkum came in averaging 46 points a game.

Williams, who is being recruited by several colleges, didn't play that badly. He missed on a few passes and he had a few dropped, but rarely was an Inderkum receiver wide open.

Defensive backs Orlando Ortiz, Artus Nelson, Jaron Wilson and Tyler Larsheid always seemed to be around the ball. Nelson got an interception, Wilson a fumble recovery.

On Inderkum's final drive of the game, Devin Hartley looked as if he was going to haul in a 28-yard pass from Williams just a few yards short of the goal line. But Ortiz got a hand on it, and the ball fell incomplete.

While the defense excelled, Del Campo's Ryan Dimino showed once again why he is arguably the area's best player.

He passed for 135 yards and rushed for 111 and a touchdown. The future UC Davis linebacker ran or threw the ball on all but eight offensive plays for the Cougars.

December 12, 2009
Play resumes in Inderkum-Del Campo game

From Bill Paterson:

After more than a one hour delay, the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III football championship game between Del Campo and Inderkum, postponed just after the second-half kickoff, has resumed at 9:25 p.m. The game is tied 6-6.

December 12, 2009
Lightning delays Inderkum-Del Campo game

From Bill Paterson:

It seems only appropriate that a Sac-Joaquin Section football playoff series that has had its share of fireworks and stunning results, would provide another unique twist during Saturday night's Division III championship game at Folsom High School.

Just after the second-half kickoff, with Inderkum and Del Campo tied at 6-6, a lightning bolt hit close to Prairie City Stadium. That forced the teams off the rain-soaked field and into locker rooms for a delay that has already reached nearly 30 minutes.

Several bursts of lightning have been seen in the distance since the first strike. Each strike delays the game 30 minutes, per safety reasons. The latest has forced the second half re-start to no earlier than 9:15 p.m.

The initial strike came after most of the first half was played in a torrential downpour The teams traded touchdowns in the first quarter before the rain started to come down in buckets.

December 12, 2009
Rocklin and Nevada Union clearly should be in bowl games, and Sacramento football is better than Bay Area this season

We're here to make things a bit easier for the section commissioners who will hustle in from all corners of the state Sunday afternoon in Carson to try and sort out who will play in CIF bowl games - and who will turn in gear starting Monday.

Assuming De La Salle of Concord beats Pittsburg in the North Coast Section title tonight - the Spartans have not lost to a Northern California team since 1991, for heaven's sake - some things seem pretty clear to me. We're just reminding the section voters who might need a refresher course of logic and common sense.

With a De La Salle win, the Spartans have earned the Open division bowl. The Spartans have two losses, sure, but they came to the No. 2 and No. 4 ranked teams in the country. Cannot deny De La Salle the open. Rocklin has argument for the Open, yes, but it will be perfectly fine playing in the D-II bowl as a newcomer to this sort of thing - coaches and players said as much after beating Del Oro in the D-II title game at UC Davis on Friday. So put Rocklin and its sparkling 14-0 record in the D-II bowl.

See how easy that was?

The D-I game will be where it gets tricky. It shouldn't be tricky at all. Nevada Union should get the nod. That simple. No need to drag out any debate or even stand at the debate table. NU is in, see you at Carson.

But it will come down to two teams for the D-I game - NU and Bellarmine Prep of San Jose. It should be a short, quick argument for NU. The Miners have the better overall record at 13-1, losing only to 14-0 Rocklin by five in Week II in a thriller, the same Rocklin that is the D-II champion, the same Rocklin that just bounced nationally ranked No. 8 Grant, the defending Open state champion.

Bellarmine is 11-1-1. The Bells' loss was hideous, an absolute 34-10 beat down to St. Mary's of Stockton - in San Jose, no less. That's like going to a guest's house, raiding the fridge, taking control of the TV remote, winning the poker games and going home with the left over beer. St. Mary's later earned the No. 1 seed in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs in D-II at 10-0 but was bounced in Round II by Del Oro, which then bounced once-beaten Folsom in a semifinal and lost a heartbreaker to Rocklin on Friday.

My theme: D-II this section is the best in the state, so much so that a long-since top seed in St. Mary's is the one team that rushed Bellarmine.

The bowl-selection criteria includes, in order, win-loss record, strength of schedule. Yes, so Bellarmine played in the West Catholic Athletic League. Fine league, yes. It's a stronger league that the Delta Valley, of which NU is a member, but the argument shouldn't get that far. NU is 13-1, losing only to Rocklin. Bellarmine has that brutally bad loss - to a team out of section and preparing for basketball season.

The arrogance of the Central Coast section and the Bay Area in general is this: We're better than Sacramento in football. We deserve to go. That's absurd, of course and anyone paying attention to NorCal football - retired coaches not tied to programs, scouts, recruiters, college coaches, reporters, those from CalHiSports/ESPN who post dead-on rankings - will agree.

The Bay Area is not better, not this year, and Bellarmine does not have a better argument than NU.

December 12, 2009
Nevada Union belts Monterey Trail 20-2 in D-I title game in rain and mud, hopes to now land bowl berth

Nevada Union beat Monterey Trail 20-2 in a football game ideal for those into duck hunting, wet and nasty weather.

The Miners didn't seem to mind a bit, slogging their way to the program's fourth Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship since 1993 at the University of the Pacific.

Broughan Jantz scored on a 13-yard run, Drew Hoskin a 31-yard run and Zach Vallejo a 1-yard run for the Miners (13-1), who now seek a CIF bowl game. Section commissioners from across the state will meet Sunday afternoon in Carson to decide the five bowl teams from the North and the five from the South.

Monterey Trail finished 11-3, the program's best season. NU has lost only to Rocklin, which is 14-0, ranked No. 2 in Northern California and a sure thing to land a bowl.

December 12, 2009
Nevada Union leads Monterey Trail 13-2 in a muddy D-I title game at UOP

Nevada Union has found just enough footing in the mud and muck at the University of the Pacific to take a 13-2 halftime lead against Monterey Trail in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I title game.

Broughan Jantz, NU's superb senior quarterback, scored on a 13-yard touchdown run and Drew Hoskin on a 31-yard run. Jantz was tackled in the end zone by Jay Flury for a Monterey Trail safety.

Monterey Trail has just 45 yards of offense total in the half, far and a way a season low for a veer offensive juggernaut that has crushed teams with line play and speed. NU has 129 yards, 100 rushing, including 54 by Hoskin.

Monterey Trail is in a section final for the first time in the schools' brief history - in any sport. NU is playing in its seventh section football title, seeking its fourth championship - all at UOP. The Miners won section titles under coach Dave Humphers in 1993, 1994 and 2005.

Should NU hold on to win, the Miners hope to land a CIF bowl game. Section commissioners meet Sunday in Carson to decide the bowl entrants. NU has lost only to 14-0 Rocklin this season, by five points in Week 2.

December 12, 2009
Rocklin's Laughrea out with broken arm, Sorenson in, defense ready

For a team that has received every good break imaginable - the great teams find a way - Rocklin High School is collectively wincing at the news of Jimmy Laughrea.

The impressive junior quarterback suffered a broken arm on his left, non-throwing arm in the fourth quarter of Rocklin's 21-14 win over rival Del Oro on Friday in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II title game at UC Davis.

He will have surgery, and the cast will cover his wrist and hand enough to prevent him from playing in a CIF bowl game.

That's the bad news as Laughrea has had a fine season.

The good news is Rocklin has tremendous depth at the position. Now taking over is Tiger Sorenson, who was the Rocklin starter last season before he went down with an injury against Nevada Union, thus the promotion of Laughrea from the junior varsity team.

Sorenson has been a steady receiver all seaon, and his 29-yard touchdown catch from Laughrea made it 21-14.

In an act of brotherhood and sportsmanship, Sorenson and Laughrea traded texts and ideas well into Friday night.

Rocklin (14-0) finds out Sunday afternoon, at around 4, what bowl game it will be in. It is likely in the D-II bowl, perhaps against Crenshaw, a Grant-like team in terms of speed, strength and ferocity. Don't expect Rocklin to be even the least bit concerned.

Rocklin beat defending state Open champion Grant 21-19 in negating a lot of that speed, strength and ferocity, outside of some amazing runs by Devontae Butler.

Rocklin's defense was stellar against Grant and it was again in the second half against Del Oro, led by B.J. Roberts, Sean Moore, Andrew McEwan, Scott Polaske, Chris Clowdus, the gutty Daniel Lessard and a host of others. Lessard played with a sore knee that he feared was blown to bits in an earlier playoff game against Atwater (he missed the Grant game).

"Our defense has been great all year," Rocklin coach Greg Benzel said. "They keep stepping up."

December 11, 2009
Rocklin edges rival Del Oro 21-14 in D-II title thriller

There was a sign draped across the visitor's grandstand at UC Davis tonight that weathered the elements to illustrate a subtle point.

It read, "It will rain, but it will not Thunder."

The play on words was clever, given the opponent's mascot, but the all things considered, it thundered juswt enough with the ripple effect sure to continue right into next week. Rocklin High School defeated Placer County neighbor and chief rival Del Oro 21-14 in a steady downpour and a scoreless second half to lay claim as Sac-Joaquin Section Division II champions.

Jackson Cummings, the team's ace leader and tailback all season, iced it with an interception at his own 40 with 1:47 to play and then helped run out the clock out with runs.

Now the Thunder anticipates the season-long momentum to end in Carson next weekend.

That's where the California Interscholastic Federation bowl games will be contested. Section commissioners meet Sunday morning to sort out the field. Rocklin will either land the D-II game, or, perhaps, the more prestigious Open game, though common prep football logic seems to suggest that the Open game is there for De La Salle of Concord to lose should it beat Pittsburg in the North Coast championship today.

Regardless, Rocklin is in no mood to complain. This is one giddy bunch with the season it has produced: a 14-0 start, the program's first football section championship, wins over Del Oro (11-3) in the Sierra Foothill League and here and a stirring last-minute stand to beat defending Open state champion Grant last week.

"We feel so fortunate to even be in this situation, considering where we were last year," Rocklin coach Greg Benzel said Thursday.

Where the Thunder were last season was an injury-plagued 4-6. It was also a campaign that offered a glimpse of Jimmy Laughrea, who took off for a 59 yard run on the game's first play. The poised junior was also elusive, firing a second-quarter 29-yard touchdown strike to Tiger Sorenson, whom he replaced as the starting quarterback last season when Sorenson went down early with a season-ending injury.

And the roles were reversed the second half of the fourth quarter here as Laughrea was sidelined with a left, non-throwing arm injury. Sorenson kept Rocklin moving, with a lot of Cummings, to work the clock.

Cummings scored on runs of 5 and 1 yards and had 155 yards to win his head-to-head duel with Bryce Pratt of Del Oro. Pratt had two touchdowns to finish with 39 on the season. Cummings has 40 total touchdowns.

And there was the Thunder defense. Rocklin knew it had a team to behold earlier this season when it made a defensive stand against Granite Bay in a 14-7 victory, and there was the Grant effort in a semifinal.

The defensive coordinator is Jason Adams, an energized sort who doesn't mind burning a time out to debate a call with the referees. He's also one to disdain warmth even on the most frigid of nights. He normally wears shorts during games, and he ditched his sweat suit at the half for his customary look in the second half.

Adams and Benzel put Cummings in for late passing downs, though he has rarely played defense this season to stay fresh on offense and special teams. Rocklin's defensive also included Sean Moore, BJ. Roberts, Dean Phillips and Daniel Lessard, who missed the Grant game with a knee injury and played tough and inspired.

Del Oro, in its 50th season, was attempting to win its seventh section title since 1989. Rocklin, open since 1993, had established itself as a basketball power in recent seasons. Add football to the list.

December 11, 2009
Rocklin leads Del Oro 21-14 at the half of typical D-II thriller

In a back-and-forth first half with big plays and drama that everyone anticipated, given the teams and the stage, Rocklin High School leads Del Oro 21-14 at the half of tonight's Division II section title game.

It has rained throughout the game at UC Davis, but the field turf hasn't been a problem. Jackson Cummings has two touchdown runs and Jimmy Laughrea a nifty 29-yard touchdown to Tiger Sorenson for Rocklin.

Bryce Pratt has scored twice on the ground for Del Oro, which seeks its seventh section title in 20 seasons and second under coach Casey Taylor since 2005. Rocklin seeks its first section title.

Rocklin is 13-0, which includes a 24-21 Sierra Foothill League win over Del Oro in Week 9. Del Oro is 11-2 with heart-stopping playoff wins over St. Mary's and Folsom.

The winner here also covets a bowl game next weekend in Carson. We will have twitter updates and a blog update after the game

December 11, 2009
Rain to let up at UC Davis in D-II game, tickets still available

The weather is bleak now at this moment at UC Davis for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II title tilt between Del Oro and Rocklin, but there is a ray of sunshine sliver of good news.
The weather forecast shows that the rain will let up by the 8 p.m. kickoff.

Section commissioner Pete Saco said there are still plenty of tickets. If moisture isn't your thing, then the game can be found on Comcast, with Jim Kozimor, Mike Pawlawski and the ever-brave Christine Nubla on the sideline.

Follow us on twitter as well as here for updates.

December 10, 2009
Neto named region's top freshman

RTB_NETOK.JPGFormer Christian Brothers volleyball standout and 2008 Bee Player of the Year Kayla Neto keeps racking up the hardware.

On Wednesday Neto was named the west region's top freshman by the American Volleyball Coaches Association in addition to making the West Region Honorable Mention team.

This comes after a season in which Neto, a middle blocker at Cal State Fullerton, posted 305 kills, a team-high 79 blocks (including 18 solo stuffs), and a .319 attack percentage which is the third-best single-season mark in school history.

Last month Neto was named the Big West Freshman of the Year and first-team all conference. During the course of the season Neto won the Big West Player of the Week award twice, something no other freshman has ever done in the history of the conference.

With Neto patrolling the middle the Titans tied a school single-season record for wins with 18.

December 8, 2009
Sorting out the prep football bowl possibilities for local hopefuls

There's been a lot of on-line chatter about who is headed to bowl games, supposedly heading to bowl games, allegedly heading to bowl games and locks for bowl games. Posters who say they have inside knowledge and say Del Oro has no chance really don't have any knowledge at all. It's all up in the air. For one thing, this weekend's games have to be played.

The bowl selection criteria is as follows:

* Won-loss record
* Strength of schedule, including nonleague, league and playoffs
* Head-to-head competition
* Common opponents

To break it down a bit more:

* If Rocklin beats Del Oro in the Division II title game at UC Davis on Friday, the Thunder is in for sure. That's a certainty as Rocklin is ranked No. 2 in Northern California and No. 1 in the NorCal Division II bowl ratings. Rocklin would be 13-0 with regular-season wins over Nevada Union (Miners only loss), Granite Bay and Del Oro and playoff wins over Del Oro and unbeaten Grant.

The only debate would be if the Thunder is going in the D-II bowl or the Open. I would guess D-II as De La Salle seems suited for the Open, with a section title win Saturday (the Spartans have not lost locally since 1991 and are loaded again). The state wants a marquee team in there. Grant was that team last year and De La Salle would be this season, seemingly. Rocklin has some argument for the Open - it did beat Grant - but for now, Rocklin's resume can't touch the overall sparkle of De La Salle, never mind that De La Salle hasn't fared well in bowl games. De La Salle is ranked No. 1 in NorCal and Rocklin No. 2, and the Open is supposed to showcase the best team in NorCal against the beast from down south. So based on rankings and reputation, that's going to be De La Salle.

* If Del Oro beats Rocklin, then the Golden Eagles have a very strong argument to get into the D-II bowl. In the playoffs, they would have beaten top-seeded and unbeaten St. Mary's on the road, No. 4 and once-beaten Folsom on the road and No. 2 and unbeaten Rocklin at UCD a week after Rocklin downed defending Open bowl state champion and unbeaten Grant.

* If Inderkum beats Del Campo on Saturday in the D-III title game, the Tigers have an argument, too. They would be 13-0, for one. If Rocklin beats Del Oro, Inderkum would hope that Rocklin gets into the Open game and Inderkum grabs the D-II game (where it would be slotted based on state enrollment). If Del Oro wins, then it'll be an argument as to who goes.

Del Oro has two losses. One was close loss in Sierra Foothill League play to Woodcreek, the other to Rocklin in a close game, though the Rocklin defeat would be avenged. Inderkum would argue that it belted Woodcreek in nonleague and lost to no one. Del Oro could counter with the SFL schedule, the best league in Northern California, and it's playoff run - meaning overall strength of schedule.

Del Campo would be a longshot as it is not ranked high enough, and that loss to Woodcreek. And also consider that going 13-0 doesn't secure anything. Grant was 13-0 in 2006 and did not get a bowl. A year ago, Casa Roble was 13-0 and did not get a bowl, with St. Mary's getting a slot instead despite two losses (to formidable foes, however).

* If Nevada Union beats Monterey Trail in D-I on Saturday, the Miners have strong chance to get the D-I game, especially if Rocklin beats Del Oro the night before. NU's only loss was a close one early to Rocklin, so Rocklin's success has helped NU down the stretch.

* In Monterey Trail wins, the Mustangs have little chance to get into the D-I bowl with two losses, one a season-opening setback to Fairfield, which got butchered by Grant in the playoffs, and one to Pleasant Grove by a hair, the same team that just lost to NU.

* If Modesto Christian beats Placer in D-IV, it is a sure thing for a bowl. If Placer wins, it seems like there's no way, based on rankings, and that's a shame because the Hillmen would be 13-1 and quite deserving of some mention.

December 7, 2009
Football thoughts on Grant, Rocklin, Del Oro, Inderkum and more

Thoughts and ideas off a frantic football weekend...

* I have a column running tomorrow on Grant coach Mike Alberghini's thoughts on the 21-19 loss to Rocklin. He heaped praise on Rocklin, for one thing, talking about how strong that defense was on the goal-line stand, how good the coaches were, Jimmy Laughrea, Jackson Cummings, the receivers, etc.

And he continues to be amazed at the Grant following. He also said his team will grow from the experience and that "Rocklin had that fire in their belly more than we did" through four full quarters."

* Grant's schedule next season with 17 returning starters: Home against Folsom (with a ton of talent back, including Dano Graves, who had 66 total touchdowns), a national prep showcase in San Diego against a team TBA, Burbank, Edison-Stockton.

The Week 3 slow is open and could be anyone, perhaps Nevada Union, with Alberghini saying he will talk to NU coach Dave Humphers after the Miners season.

* The reason the Grant-Rocklin game wasn't played at Sacramento State or Sacramento City College is because those fields have natural grass. Though Sac State's field is in good shape, Rocklin coach Greg Benzel and Alberghini made it clear they wanted a field turf.

Sac State and Sac City will get a field turf in the coming season.

* To me, the Del Oro-Rocklin winner is a lock for a bowl game. Has to be.

If Del Oro wins, it will have beaten the No. 1, 2 and 4 seeds away from home in unbeaten St. Mary's, unbeaten Rocklin and once-beaten Folsom, the No. 4 seed. If someone argues, "but DO lost to Woodcreek" then that's getting beyond the point of what DO did in the playoffs.

If Rocklin wins, a slam dunk. Already rated No. 1 in the D-II NorCal bowl rankings, it's a no brainer. As for going to the D-II game or the Open, I would think if De La Salle wins its section - it hasn't lost in section play since 1991 - then that's a lock.

And what about Inderkum? The Tigers first need to beat Del Campo in D-III on Saturday and hope it gets into the D-II bowl (where its enrollment puts the Tigers for a bowl). As for Del Campo, a long shot. NU could a real look at the D-I bowl if it beats Monterey Trail.

December 5, 2009
Capital Christian beats LeGrand at its own game in D-V football final

Capital Christian didn't meet the eye test in its match-up with LeGrand in tonight's Sac-Joaquin Section Division V football championship game at Oakmont High School.

LeGrand may be a small school from the Central Valley, but the Bulldogs have impressive size.

The offensive line averages 240 pounds. The defense is big and physical, too, anchored by 220-pound linebacker Bob Perez.

For awhile, it appeared that the Bulldogs were going to simply outmuscle the Cougars, not exactly the most intimidating looking bunch.

LeGrand led 21-7 at halftime. The offense controlled the clock with Perez and 185-pound halfback Tony Ortegon crashing through the Cougars' line to keep the chains moving. The defense was stuffing Capital Christian's run game and pressuring quarterback James Lee into hurried passes.

But it was a different game in the second half.

The Cougars responded with a 28-point run of their own to win 35-27 and capture the school's first section football banner.

Lee passed for 206 yards and ran for three touchdowns, Keith Johnson rushed for 103 yards and two touchdowns and the defense and special teams made a slew of big plays and tackles.

The Cougars wound up being the intimidators.

So what was that halftime talk like?

"We didn't really make any big adjustments at halftime as far as Xs or Os," said Lee, who completed just seven of 19 passes for 70 yards with an interception in the first half.
"It just came down to who wanted it more. In the first half, they were stuffing our run game and confusing us on blitzes. We just said let's out-pound them, out-physical them, and that's what our line did."

Lee said they weren't intimidated by LeGrand's size. A brutal preseason of games against Bear River, Monterey Trail, Placer and Modesto Christian more than prepared them for that aspect of the game.

"Some of their guys are pretty big but nothing that we aren't used to," Lee said. "When we played Bear River in our opener (a 29-14 Capital Christian win), we could see that we could play with the big boys."

The 9-3 Cougars would like to play one more big boy. That could happen if Capital Christian is selected to play in a California Interscholastic Federation state bowl game Dec. 18-19 in Carson.

As a section champion, the Cougars are now bowl eligible, although Modesto Christian, which plays Placer on Friday for the D-IV section title, remains the favorite to be the Northern California Small School representative. The Crusaders are unbeaten, including a 49-21 win over Capital Christian earlier in the season. But if Modesto Christian loses to the Hillmen, it can't be considered.

Lee and Capital Christian coach Karl Zierhut agree that if Modesto Christian loses, then they deserve strong consideration.

"Anyone who wins their section would like to go one more week," Zierhut said. "(CIF officials) can't pick everybody. But we feel our record speaks for itself. Our three losses are to teams that are a combined 36-3 and are all playing in section championships next week."

Monterey Trail is 11-2 and playing Nevada Union for the D-I title; Placer is 12-1 and Modesto Christian 13-0.

Lee thinks the Cougars would represent Northern California well.

"Absolutely we'd love to play, especially as hot as we are," Lee said. "We definitely can succeed in that state bowl game."

December 5, 2009
Rocklin's win over Grant in prep playoffs no fluke at all

There's something about the setting at Prairie View Stadium. Maybe the cold, crisp air, too.

But weird things happen here, and an overflow crowd standing and swaying and praying one way or another are still trying make sense of it all.

A night after Del Oro survived a cardiac 43-42 victory over Folsom when a chip-shot field goal hit the cross bar, Rocklin escaped with a 21-19 thriller over Grant in another Division II semifinal when a 22-yard field goal hooked just left on the final play - this time on the opposite goal posts.

A playoff bracket that was expected to come down to the final plays in the semifinal rounds did exactly that, and the survivors are two Sierra Foothill League teams. Rocklin beat Del Oro to win the SFL outright earlier this season, and now it seeks its first football section championship.

The teams will play Friday at UC Davis at 8 p.m.

Rocklin's defense held Grant in check despite having its top stopper sidelined since last week with a knee injury. The Thunder allowed only a handful of big runs by Devontae Butler, including a highlight 65-yard touchdown romp for the final points midway through the fourth.

Grant's final drive was set up by a blocked punt by Puka Lopa, who recovered it at the Rocklin 29 with 3:24 left, and Grant ran the clock and ran it with their top talent in Butler to the goal line.

Butler had three straight runs up the middle from the 1 in the closing moment and was stopped each time.

Finally, after a time out, Grant elected for the equivalent of an extra point. It just missed, though Grant players and fans initially thought it was good. Instant joy for Rocklin.

And make no mistake. This was no fluke effort. Rocklin is the only team to beat Nevada Union. It beat Del Oro and Granite Bay. It more than held it own against Grant's speed defense, power and size up front.

Grant came in with a state-record 77 sacks, most in the country for any large schools and most of any team this side of the Rockies. Rocklin allowed none tonight, thanks to the superb line play of Vince Gibbs, Joey Ramos, Justin Blattel, Shaun Braly, Brian McNay and Holden Huff.

Jimmy Laughrea overcame an early interception to toss two touchdowns and 229 yards. His scoring strikes of 30 yards to Kyle Galvea and 41 yards to Holden Huff were the sort of throws that make the junior such and intriguing recruit.

Grant couldn't solve Rocklin's defense, couldn't find much luck on special teams, could get to Laughrea, couldn't stop Jackson Cummings enough - and a 26-game winning streak comes to a close. Rocklin's season continues, cruising at 13-0 even if suddenly out of breath.

"It's the best win in Rocklin history," Thunder coach Greg Benzel said. "It's the best goal line I've seen."

Grant returns a ton of talent next season, though Butler will graduate. He rushed for 214 yards and three scores in his final game and had 2,851 yards this season.

"I'm proud of how we played all year and I'm proud of how we played in the second half," Grant coach Mike Alberghini said.

December 5, 2009
Rocklin stuns Grant on 21-yard missed field goal on final play

Rocklin High School beat Grant 21-19 tonight in a defensive slug fest as Grant missed a 21-yard field goal on the final play.

Grant's 26-game winning streak ends and Rocklin now plays Sierra Foothill League rival Del Oro for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II championship Friday at UC Davis.

December 5, 2009
Christian Brothers falls in third state title match in last four years

Christian Brothers started off hot, but could not contain La Jolla Country Day's Lauren Birks and fell in the CIF Division IV state championship match 3-0 (25-19, 25-20, 25-19) on Saturday afternoon at the Bren Events Center on the campus of UC Irvine.

"This was a winnable match," Falcons coach Jeff Deter said. "But the situation was bigger than we could play to."

The Falcons led the first set 9-5 before Country Day mounted a 6-0 run to take control and it did not look back. The Torreys led the second set wire to wire.

Christian Brothers led the third set 13-8 but, as happened in the first set, unforced errors and violations cost them as the Torreys stormed back to seize control and eventually, the championship.

Birks was named the match's most valuable player as she led all attackers with 12 kills.

Katie Hoekman
and Kelly Pelz were named the players of the match for Christian Brothers, while Kim Fazio was honored after the match with the CIF's Pursuing Victory with Honor sportsmanship award.

Senior outside hitter Erika Cuevas, playing in her third state championship match, led the Falcons with seven kills, while senior libero Whitney Swain led the Falcons with 14 digs and senior setter Kelly Pelz paced the CB attack with 23 assists.

December 5, 2009
News and notes from prep football playoffs, and a look at Mighty Moala

A quick glance around the region from Friday night's madness, and a look at Vei Moala and the Grant defense.

* Heady Hillmen
Placer beat Sonora 15-14 in a Division IV semifinal that wasn't an offensive showcase, but it was still a classic.

Dalton Dyer tossed a halfback pass on 4th-and-7 to Cameron Southward for a first down to the three with just over five minutes to play and then scored on a 3-yard run. Rather than risk another kicking heartache - the Hillmen had two field goals blocked earlier - Placer coach Joey Hillmen went for a 2-point conversion run, and Asher Gotzmer scored for the difference.

Gotzmer expected to get the 2-point run carry, and he said he ran as fast as he could to the outside. Dyer, however, never expected to throw a pass. It was the first of his career.

"We wanted to do somethng differe, surprise them," Montoya said.

Now the Hillmen seek the program's first title since 1982.

* Del Oro-Folsom drama

It literally was two games in one.

Folsom rolled the first half of a D-II semifinal, taking a 35-7 lead behind the five-touchdown effort from Dano Graves. As if they cleared the stadium, charged people again and filled the place again, Del Oro won the "night-cap" 36-7, as Bryce Pratt rumbled for three 1-yard touchdowns to end the scoring, capped by a 2-point conversion run with 40 seconds to go for a 43-42 lead.

The drama continued, of course, right on down to Graves moving his Bulldogs to within field goal range. The clock ran out, then a second was put back on - the right call - and a 25-yard field goal attempt was partially blocked and hit with a thud into the cross bar. Game over. Bedlam for Del Oro.

* Del Campo-Inderkum, as expected

Didn't we expect this showdown from way back in, I don't know, last December? Inderkum is 13-0 and the top seed in D-III. Del Campo is 12-1 and the No. 2 seed, and the teams meet for the title next Saturday night at Folsom.

Del Campo has superb line play, a game-turner in Ryan Dimino who accounted for all six scores to beat Sierra on Friday, and a tough defense. Inderkum has speed to burn, headed by Devin Hartley, which outscored Oakdale.

* Mighty Moala

* Mike Alberghini says to wait until the lad is 17. That left me to wonder, is that a warning or a promise? Alberghini is the Grant High School football coach who was raving about the enormous upside of his enormous defensive tackle, Vei Moala. He's No. 55 on the roster, with the size-16 feet, the Earl Campbell thighs and shovel-like hands. He's the unblockable one with the sort of grades, talent and ferocity that make him a national recruit. As a 16-year old junior.

Moala is 6-foot-3 and 340 pounds. Check his side profile. No gut, straight up and down, a virtual quarter-ton of Polynesian pride. If a tough guy in the trenches is your thing, Moala is your man tonight in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division II semifinal against Rocklin that pits The Bee's two highest-ranked teams the second half of the season.

Moala is the top stopper on the top defense in the state. Maybe the top defense anywhere. Grant has 77 sacks, bettering by three the season state record set in 1987 by Carson High. The Pacers lead all large-school programs in the country in sacks. They lead all schools of any size west of the Rockies in this category. They need a nickname. How about the Grand Avenue Sack Exchange after the school's street address?

Grant's defensive efforts this season have been the most impressive prep efforts I have seen since Elk Grove set national total offensive yardage records in 1998 with Ryan Dinwiddie and Lance Briggs.

Without helmets, the Grant defenders are a friendly, jovial and polite lot. In gear, they're terrors seeking tackles. Four teams have scored on Grant this season. The Pacers have come up with 40 takeaways. Moala has 15 sacks and Puka Lopa 19.

A defensive end, Lopa is only a junior, too. As is linebacker Darryl Paulo. And defensive end Caleb Cameron. And safety James Sample. They're not all juniors, the Grand Avenue Sack Exchange. Shaq Thompson, a playmaking cornerback recruit, is a sophomore.

December 5, 2009
Christian Brothers' Cuevas could be key in today's state title match

ha_prep_vball019.JPGIRVINE -- The Christian Brothers girls volleyball program will lose 10 seniors following today's noon CIF Division IV state championship match against La Jolla Country Day, but none that have seen and done all that outside hitter Erika Cuevas has.

Cuevas is the only Falcon to have played on the varsity squad at Christian Brothers all four years. Today she ends a career in which she has smashed over 500 kills, each one followed by her signature fist pump.

Cuevas is one of few players that can match -- if not exceed -- coach Jeff Deter's intensity and it's no surprise that she has been a leader in the two years Deter has had the program.

But don't expect Cuevas to be content with just making it back. She and the rest of the Falcons are here to win.

"I don't think just playing in three championship matches is any kind of reward -- it's more of a let-down," she said. "I'm hungry for this ... we all are."

December 4, 2009
Del Oro over Folsom on final play is game for the ages, and aged all of us watching it

I've seen a lot of football playoff classics in my 20 years at the Sacramento Bee.

Saw one in 1989, the City Championship game when Nevada Union beat Davis 7-6 when the Hooper Stadium goal posts seemed to sway for a Davis chip-shot field goal and an extra point.

Saw one in 1997 at Sacramento State when Elk Grove edged Grant in the City Championship on a late Ryan Dinwiddie field goal. Saw one in 2001 when Elk Grove rallied from 27-7 down to beat Nevada Union.

And then tonight in Folsom where the Bulldogs looked all-world in the first half in roaring to a 35-7 lead and the Del Oro looked all universe in charging back for a 43-42 win in a Division II semifinal. They should have charged people twice for this one, it was that good.

Dano Graves accounted for all six Folsom touchdowns, giving the remarkable junior 66 total for the season. Bryce Pratt and his bruising offensive line stole the show, however, with Pratt scoring the final three touchdowns of the game on 1-yard power runs and then scoring the deciding 2-point conversion with 40 seconds to go.

But it wasn't over. We're talking Folsom and Dano Graves here.

Graves calmly got the Bulldogs down field and set up a 25-yard field goal attempt with a second to play. It was partially blocked and hit the cross bar, and then down. Del Oro holds on. Bedlam.

Pratt was superb, and he was human. He lost two fumbles but showed tremendous guts and character to stick with it, despite an ankle tender to the touch. He had 327 yards on 39 carries.

Del Oro turned it over five times but it also recovered two late onside kicks. Folsom players are crushed, but the Bulldogs need to remember - to a man - that it had a record season. They can learn from this. The bulk of the roster returns next season and opens against Grant in 2010.

For now, it's Del Oro, thrilled to survive and ready to take on the winner of the Grant-Rocklin game. Tonight's effort was testament to coach Casey Taylor, who kept reminding his bunch that it wasn't over, to stick with it. It was a credit to the offensive line that kept surging. It was a credit to the defense that overcame a first-half blister job to hold the prolific Bulldogs to seven points in the second half.

December 3, 2009
Inderkum AD hopes Natomas community will get behind unbeaten football team

Inderkum High School athletic director Matt Hinton has his fingers crossed.

He's hoping that Natomas residents will turn out in large numbers to support the Tigers in Friday's Sac-Joaquin Section Division II football semifinal against Oakdale.

Although Inderkum is the the top seed and 12-0 this season, the Tigers still have trouble drawing spectator support for their home games.

So the worst thing in Hinton's mind is that there could be more Oakdale rooters sitting in the stands than Inderkum fans. The Mustangs are renowned for traveling well.

"We've been in the playoffs four years in a row and we reached the section final last season," Hinton said. "I don't know how much more winning we can do to get the crowd support out here."

Hinton said the school got good crowds for homecoming against Pioneer and its rivalry game with Natomas. But Inderkum's stands were sparsely filled and Casa Roble brought more fans for last week's quarterfinal game, which the Tigers won 60-6.

"We're trying to make this a community atmosphere," said Hinton, Inderkum's athletic director since the school opened six years ago. "I'm not sure what more we can offer to put us over the edge."

Although the team is 50-9 in five varsity seasons under coach Terry Stark, the Tigers haven't attracted the same support that other new schools such as Pleasant Grove in Elk Grove and Whitney in Rocklin have attained.

It doesn't help that Inderkum is located next to a shopping center and near Arco Arena.

Sometimes visitors mistake the school's striking two-story main building for an architecturally distinctive office structure. The unorthodox 40-acre, $58 million facility is unlike any other area high school campus built in the last 50 years.

Hinton lives in Rocklin. So he's constantly talking up his school to those he meets in Placer County.

He says most people first mistake his school for older Natomas High School, which is located just off of Interstate 80 at Truxel Boulevard.

"I'm constantly telling people it's across from Arco, not Truxel," he said.

If Inderkum can get past Oakdale tonight and win its first section football title in school history Dec. 12, the Tigers could have a good shot at a CIF state bowl berth.

Hinton said that no doubt would help raise the program's profile. But for now there is little outward talk about that.

"You've got to respect Oakdale," Hinton said. "They have a heck of a program, a great tradition. We expect it to be a great game.

"We're also expecting a nice turnout from our comunity because our players, our coaches and our school really deserve it."

December 3, 2009
Nevada Union is still formidable despite being eclipsed by bitter former rival Grant

There is little debate that since Grant dropped to Division II four years ago it has eclipsed Nevada Union, its once formidable rival.

The Pacers have built a national profile. They are No. 19 in USA Today's Super 25, No. 2 in California in Cal-Hi Sports' Top 25 and they are defending California Interscholastic Federation State Bowl Open Division champions.

They are the only Sacramento-area team so far to have the privilege of playing in the prestigious state bowl event, which will be held for the fourth time Dec. 18 and 19 at the Home Depot Center in Carson.

The 12-0 Pacers also are working on their third undefeated season in four years as they prepare to play Rocklin Saturday night in the much anticipated D-II semifinal game at Folsom High School.

Nevada Union is still in Division I. But Grant dropped with the Metro Conference from D-I to D-II at the same time that D-II was evolving into the section's powerhouse division.

That has to gall Nevada Union coach Dave Humphers just a little. He didn't hide his feelings in the preseason football questionnaire he submitted to The Bee.

He listed his team as No. 1 (just ahead of Rocklin) and put Grant tied with Del Oro at No. 10.

Humphers isn't about to concede anything to his bitter coaching rival, Grant's Mike Alberghini.

Perhaps that's because during the last season of the famed Nevada Union-Grant rivalry in 2005, the Miners dominated the Pacers. They beat Grant 21-0 in league then again 30-0 in the D-I City Championship (semifinal) game at Hughes Stadium. The Miners, 12-1 that season, went on to beat West 46-7 for their third section football championship.

But Nevada Union slipped to 7-4 in 2006, before tumbling to 4-6 in 2007. The Miners missed the playoffs that season for only the second time in Humphers' 19 years as head coach.

Nevada Union rebounded to 10-2 and won a Delta Valley Conference co-championship with Laguna Creek last season, albeit with a downsized non-league schedule that earned them some crticism.

Heading into Friday's D-I semifinal against visiting Pleasant Grove, Nevada Union is looking like a team that can win it all.

After all, the Miners are 11-1 with their only loss coming in Week 2, 41-36, to 12-0 Rocklin, and they are playing like the "band of brothers" Humphers envisioned at the start of the year.

They have continued to improve and are dominating on both sides of the ball in climbing to No. 3 in Cal-Hi's Northern California D-I bowl rankings, behind Grant and No. 2 De La Salle of Concord. The Miners remain long-shots, for sure, but at least worthy of some state bowl talk.

They've done it with a talent-laden roster that includes DVC Player of the Year Dan Pettinato, a defensive end-tight end, and DVC Defensive Player of the Year Eric Niederberger, a linebacker-running back.

They also have one of the section's top quarterbacks in senior left-hander Broughan Jantz, who has passed for 23 touchdowns and thrown just two interceptions. He was the DVC Offensive Player of the Year.

For good measure, kicker Conor Maloney earned DVC Special Teams Player of the Year and linebackers Juan Espinoza and Zach Vallejo; running back Drew Hoskin; and linemen Conner Klauer, Chad Knight and Conor Scott all made the All-DVC first team.

Grant has sent a slew of players on to major college programs in the last several seasons. But the Miners aren't doing too badly, either.

Pettinato (Arizona) and Niederberger (Colorado State) have already verbally committed and Jantz and a few others should move on to the next level in the fall.

That's something Humphers likes to emphasize when he talks with reporters. He says that 16 Miners are playing or have played college ball this season, and that doesn't count NU alumn Spencer Havner, a tight end with the Green Bay Packers.

"They were all hard workers in the weight room, and they've kind of helped develop that culture among the guys we have here now who are working hard every day to get bigger and stronger," Humphers said.

December 3, 2009
Title contenders have defensive stoppers who seek section titles

Ever heard of this one - defense wins championships? Worn out cliche, but it's as true as it gets in football, right on down to the high schools. Here's a breakdown on some of the title conteders and some of the team's top stoppers.

* Grant Pacers (12-0)
Stoppers of note: Vei Moala, James Sample, Darryl Paulo, Puka Lopa, Ronald Fields.
Defensively speaking: We could list the entire defensive unit here, it's been that dominant, with eight shutouts, 40 take-aways and a stunning 77 sacks. Moala is an all-time great already, unblockable and relentless. He has 15 sacks and Lopa has 19.

Inderkum Tigers (12-0)
Stoppers of note: Jordan Adams, Garrett Brewer, David Weider, Darius Jenkins, Lawrence Holliday.
Defensively speaking: It starts with the D-ends in Weider and Jenkins, who dominate the line of scrimmage; Adams has 12 sacks and Weider and Jenkins have 212 total tackles between them. Brewer has 8 interceptions. Fast, fierce unit wants D-III section title.

* Del Campo Cougars (11-1)
Stoppers of note: Orlando Ortiz, Eddie Plantaric, Keith Sutherland, Ryan Dimino.
Defensively speaking: There is strength on the line, at linebacker, in the secondary, and the difference maker in the big games this season, including the playoffs, has been Dimino, a terror at linebacker who bucklers ball carriers. D could run into Inderkum in D-III finals.

* Monterey Trail Mustangs (10-2)
Stoppers of note: Jim Meadows, Kalamani Fili, Lamin Wilson, Fili, Rozale Byrd, Ethan Clark.
Defensively speaking: Outside of Grant, this is the fastest most ferocious defense in the section, an attacking, blitzing unit with four shutouts and two smother jobs in the playoffs. Held Folsom to season-low points, picked off Dano Graves twice; Clark has 9 picks.

* Nevada Union Miners (11-1)
Stoppers of note: Dan Pettinato, Eric Niederberger, Juan Espinosa, Zach Vallejo, Chad Knight, Justin Fike.
Defensively speaking: The Miners have shutdown all comers in the playoffs with a DE stud in Pettinato, ace LBs and strong secondary. A staple to the great NU teams over the years has been wing-T mastery and dominant defensive playoff efforts.

* Del Oro Golden Eagles (10-2)
Stoppers of note: Adrian Williams, Tyler Adair, Blake Landry, Freddie Cargile, Spencer Butterfield.
Defensively speaking: Plays tough, physical defense, and belted fast teams such as Franklin of Elk Grove, had stops to beat Granite Bay and major stops to stop the section's highest scoring team in St. Mary's in a D-II quarterfinal. Even the defensive backs pop with Cargile and Butterfield.

Rocklin Thunder (12-0)
Stoppers of note: Daniel Lessard, Andrew McEwan, Scott Polaske, B.J. Roberts, Sean Moore.
Defensively speaking: You don't start 12-0 on offense alone, and wins over NU, Del Oro and Granite Bay and two routs in the playoffs had defensive moments. Lessard has been a standout but may not play against Grant with a knee injury; Jackson Cummings may play a ton in the secondary from here on out.

* Placer Hillmen (11-1)
Stoppers of note: Josh Klem, Cameron Southward, Brent Lenz, Jarrad Weaver.
Defensively speaking: Yes, the Hillmen have allowed points at times, but they have also made a ton of stops, and they have jumped ahead of two playoff foes early, thanks in large part to the D. Klem has 98 tackles, 5 picks.

* Pleasant Grove Eagles (9-3)
Stoppers of note: Devin Young, Kenny Taylor, Jonathan Bias, Charlie Rodriguez.
Defensively speaking: Yes, the Eagles gave up a lot of rushing yards to Vacaville in a D-I
quarterfinal, but PG also held the Bulldogs to their lowest scoring output since Week 2 - by a long shot. Tough line play, tough linebackers, tough secondary men. Major challenge with NU's wing-T.

* Folsom Bulldogs (11-1)
Stoppers of note: Burton DeKoning, Jordan Richards, Sam Lueken, Kori Babineaux.
Defensively speaking: Yes, this is an offensive machine, and yes the Bulldogs allow points, but they did have enough stops on a Granite Bay team that had been scoring 52 points a game in the final five down the stretch. DeKoning is an impact player but missed the second half against Granite Bay and may be tender against Del Oro with an ankle. His loss will be brutal if he's out.

December 3, 2009
A look at remaining prep rushers in playoffs, with comments

Here's a look at a fleet crop of cruisers, bruisers and burners from area football teams still in the playoffs. It's a very up season for the runner. Listed in order of yards rushing.

* Devontae Butler, Grant
Numbers: 2,637 yards, 46 touchdowns, 12-0 record
Rundown: Runs hard, fast, over foes, around them. Can grind away on goal line or break the 80-yarder and rarely carries more than 20 times. Best Grant back since Onterrio Smith.

* Ryan Dimino, Del Campo
Numbers: 2,351 yards, 23 touchdowns, 11-1 record
Rundown: Yes, he's a quarterback, but by title only. He's really a bulldozer with a QB title, relentless with instincts and hard to contain. Deadly out of shotgun formation, headed to UC Davis to play LB.

* Bryce Pratt, Del Oro
Numbers: 2,036 yards, 33 touchdowns, 10-2 record
Rundown: After a 1,000-yard season and 20 scores in 2008, he's emerged as a superior talent - stronger, faster, wiser, a leader. School record holder runs hard and is best Del Oro back ever.

* Jackson Cummings, Rocklin
Numbers: 1,957 yards, 34 touchdowns, 12-0 record
Rundown: Best back in school history, easily, and the primary weapon out of the Pistol offense. Fast, elusive, tough, determined with local schools and Ivy League programs wanting his leadership and GPA.

* Antonio Bumpers, Inderkum
Numbers: 1,901 yards, 33 touchdowns, 12-0 record
Rundown: School-record holder is a cinch for 2,000 yards; runs hard and is fast enough to bounce off safeties. Transfer from Grant who has adopted to wing-T for team that seeks D-III section title.

* Tyler Takahaski, Bradshaw Christian
Numbers: 1,688 yards, 20 touchdowns, 10-1 record
Rundown: Small school, yes. Big time production, absolutely. Has the Pride rolling along in D-VI field with a 10-game winning streak.

* Drake Tofi, Monterey Trail
Numbers: 1,577 yards, 25 touchdowns, 10-2 record
Rundown: The ace option in the veer offense, he runs hard and often pulls away from the pack up the middle. Also hard to stop on the goal-line. His overtime touchdown and 2-point conversion handed Folsom only loss. And this: only a junior.

* Brady Dragmire, Bradshaw Christian
Numbers: 1,558 yards, 24 touchdowns, 10-1 record
Rundown: Only a junior, the Brady Bunch won a section title a year ago, closing in on one now and could be heavy favorites to do so next season, too. Part of the Pride's lethal 1-2 punch for best ever team.

* Asher Gotzmer, Placer
Numbers: 1,468 yards, 20 touchdowns, 11-1 record
Rundown: AG is the top option in the Hillmen's heady wing-T attack that is on the cusp of the program's first section title since 1982. Runs hard, runs fast, can block, execute fakes - all staples of the wing-T.

* Devin Hartley, Inderkum
Numbers: 1,030 yards, 9 touchdowns, 12-0 record
Rundown: A receiver in any other offense, and for sure in college, Hartley is a blur of a halfback for the Tigers and a true breakaway threat. Also loves to fake and block, key elements for this scheme.

December 3, 2009
A look at the remaining prep passers, with comments

A look at some of the surviving quarterbacks, with comments (in short, it's a heck of a season of talent).

* Dano Graves, Folsom
Numbers: 3,540 yards, 49 touchdowns, 11-1 record
Amazing junior spread-offense leader has completed 76 percent of his passes and rushed for 11 scores, too. State leader in TDs, competion percentage. Extremely hard to contain. A leader, a winner, a stud.

* Jimmy Laughrea, Rocklin
Numbers: 2,259 yards, 19 touchdowns, 12-0 record
Poised junior has been steady all season, though he had three picks last week and now faces the men of Grant for ultimate challenge. Has beaten Nevada Union, Del Oro, Granite Bay. Recruit for next year.

* James Lee, Capital Christian
Numbers: 2,397 yards, 30 touchdowns, 8-3 record
Never mind any small-school talk. Kid can play, lead, impact games, score and win. Seeks D-V title Saturday and has a college future; can throw deep, short and run, too.

* Broughan Jantz, Nevada Union
Numbers: 1,968 yards, 23 touchdowns, 11-1 record
Wing-T wiz with sensational instincts and feet - and confidence - has tossed just two picks and also rushed for 9 scores for a machine that seeks D-I title; plays some D and special teams, too. Complete player.

* Max Magleby, Del Oro
Numbers: 1,950 yards, 23 touchdowns, 10-2 record
Only a junior, Mad Max had huge night to down unbeaten St. Mary's with deft passing; only 4 picks and a great balance to running game. Super showdown with Graves next will be telling. Running threat, too.

* Ryan Dimino, Del Campo
Numbers: 1,792 yards, 16 touchdowns, 11-1 record
Most amazing thing is that he runs like a fullback with power and purpose with a NorCal QB rushing record 2,351 yards. Nice passing touch, too, poised, calm, confident. A leader, a winner, a man.

* Colin Burnett, Placer
Numbers: 1,745 yards, 15 touchdowns, 11-1 record
Always fear the wing-T teams that can throw, too, and Colin sure can; nifty runner, executes fakes, blocks, plays smart, only 3 picks; seeks D-IV title, program's first section since 1982.

* Taylor Congdon, Pleasant Grove
Numbers: 1,695 yards, 16 touchdowns, 9-3 record
Admirable comeback from blown knee in 2008 is proof of dedication and desire; speedy running threat who loves to compete (would play nose guard if his coaches let him); showdown with Jantz is classic.

* Demetrius Williams, Inderkum
Numbers: 1,142 yards, 16 touchdowns, 12-0 record
Also a dangerous run threat, DM is key cog in the Tigers wing-T machine and the leader for team's unbeaten season and D-III title romp.

* Glenn Deary, Grant
Numbers: 1,135 yards, 10 touchdowns, 12-0 record
Hasn't had to throw much with dominating defense and run game but does have a good arm and super burners on the outside for runaway machine; runs like a LB and confident, with huge games looming.

* Mike Calvan, Monterey Trail
Numbers: 941 yards, 15 touchdowns, 10-2 record
Very steady and effective in the veer offense with just one pick and 728 yards rushing and 9 scores; record-setting dream season continues with Calvan a huge reason why.

December 2, 2009
Inderkum defense has keyed 12-0 championship start

When you talk Inderkum Tigers football, the wing-T and offensive fireworks readily come to mind. And no wonder.

The trio of Demetrius Williams, Antonio Bumpers and Devin Hartley is a prolific, dangerous lot. But it's the defense that has really made the difference for Inderkum. The stoppers have their finger prints all over the team's school-record 12-0 start and 2-0 blitz through the Division III playoffs as the top seed.

Terry Stark, the head coach, heaps praise on his defensive coordinator, Tod Hamasaki, who has defensive linemen aces in linemen David Weider and Darius Jenkins. Weider has 106 tackles and Jenkins 104.

Jordan Adams has been in on 73 tackles, including a team-high 12 sacks. The Tigers have allowed seven or fewer points eight times this season and made 25 interceptions, eight by Garrett Brewer and five by Lawrence Holiday.

But it starts with Jenkins and Weider.

"They both have awesome motors, relentless," Stark said. "They're the biggest reason for our defensive success."

Next for Inderkum is an Oakdale team that beat the stuffing out of a speedy Vanden team 56-14. The Mustangs are used to playoff marches and they will not be bugged out by Inderkum's speed.
But can Oakdale handle Inderkum's defense when so many others have not? Inderkum has allowed 7 or fewer points 9 times this season, including a 60-6 beat down on a very solid Casa Roble team in Round II.

December 2, 2009
Class of 2009 prep basketball stars make contributions as true college freshmen

The leading members of last season's star-studded Class of 2009 are making contributions to their respective men's college basketball programs this season as true freshmen.

Here's a brief rundown on each:

• 2008-'09 Bee Player of the Year Brendan Lane of Rocklin has played in five of six games for 2-4 UCLA. Lane, who had an early-season ankle sprain, is averaging nine minutes and 2.4 points a game.

• All-Metro first team guard Xavier Thames of Pleasant Grove is playing nearly 15 minutes a game and averaging 4.3 points and 1.8 assists for 6-0 Washington State.

• All-Metro first team guard Chase Tapley of Sac High is averaging seven points in 18.5 minutes for 4-2 San Diego State.

• All-Metro guard Ryan Sypkens of Franklin is averaging 4.8 points in 13.8 minutes for 3-3 UC Davis.

• All-Metro guard Tony Johnson of Folsom has 15 assists and 10 steals and is averaging 19 minutes for the 4-3 Lafayette Leopards.

• Second-team All Metro guard Patrick Scott of Bear River is playing a team-leading 29.5 minutes and averaging 9.5 points for 0-4 Sonoma State.

• Third-team All-Metro guard Marcus Jackson of Sheldon has played in four games and is averaging 3.8 minutes for 6-1 Arizona State.

December 2, 2009
Grant, Rocklin, Nevada Union, Del Oro in NorCal top 5 rankings

A look at the CalHiSports/ESPN Top 15 NorCal rankings.
And look at the strength of the region with all the local teams. Never been a better year for football around here.

Northern California Overall Top 15 (CIF North Open Division)

1. (1) Grant (Sacramento) 12-0
2. (2) De La Salle (Concord) 10-2
3. (4) Rocklin 12-0
4. (5) Nevada Union (Grass Valley) 11-1
5. (9) Del Oro (Loomis) 10-2
6. (3) St. Mary's (Stockton) 11-1*
7. (6) Bellarmine Prep (San Jose) 10-1-1
8. (11) Inderkum (Sacramento) 12-0
9. (12) Folsom 11-1
10. (14) Monte Vista (Danville) 9-3
11. (15) St. Francis (Mountain View) 9-3
12. (10) Granite Bay 9-3*
13. (NR) Monterey Trail (Elk Grove) 10-2
14. (NR) Pittsburg 7-4
15. (NR) Central Catholic (Modesto) 11-1
Breakdown: It should be no surprise that the only two teams still ranked among the top 15 in NorCal but which are done for the season are both from the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Div. II playoffs. Grant, which is on a 26-game winning streak and is firmly up into the top 10 in the latest ESPN RISE FAB 50 national rankings, is still the favorite, but faces Rocklin on Saturday and then either Del Oro or Folsom in the final if it doesn't get upset. If Rocklin were to win the title, the debate between the Thunder and De La Salle for the Open Division berth isn't as clear-cut as it is between DLS and Grant. Both teams that DLS lost to in September -- Don Bosco Prep of New Jersey and Lakeland of Florida -- are still top 10 in the country. Bosco has been sitting at No. 2 for weeks and probably will clinch no worse than No. 2 this weekend in its final game. The Spartans, who have found their rhythm on offense with a two-pronged running game led by Terron Ward and Ryan Anderson, also only lost to Lakeland by one point in overtime. Dropping out from last week's top 15 in NorCal were previous No. 7 Tracy, No. 8 Deer Valley of Antioch and No. 13 Vacaville.

December 1, 2009
Grant holds steady at No. 2 in State Top 25

A look at the CalHiSports/ESPN Top 25, with Grant at No. 2 and several other local teams in the Top 25 as well...

1. (1) Oaks Christian (Westlake Village) 12-0
As we move into the final two weeks prior to the CIF state bowl games, the dynamics at the top of the overall state rankings has not changed. The Lions, who have been No. 1 since the preseason and have done nothing to deserve to get dropped, continued to roll last week in the CIF Southern Section Northwest Division playoffs with a 45-10 win over Harvard-Westlake of North Hollywood. Nick Montana had a career-best 316 yards passing, completing 22 of 32 passes, with two TDs and another 40 yards rushing. He had the most success going to super soph Jordan Payton, who caught eight passes for 174 yards and both scores. The best news of the weekend, however, may have come from Washington as Skyline of Sammamish captured a Class 4A state semifinal game over Bothell, avenged an earlier loss and now is favored to win its third straight state title this weekend. Skyline, which is now back up to No. 40 in the ESPN RISE FAB 50 national rankings, is the feather in the Oaks Christian hat that could be the difference in eventually getting a CIF Open Division state bowl bid due to a 28-23 win by the Lions over the Spartans back in September. This week, head coach Bill Redell's team plays 11-1 Cathedral of Los Angeles in the section semifinals and then it's likely unbeaten Serra of Gardena in the final.

2. (2) Grant (Sacramento) 12-0
Due to Del Oro of Loomis knocking off previous state No. 8 St. Mary's of Stockton, the Pacers may in effect be playing their CIF Sac Joaquin Section Div. II championship in this week's semifinals against unbeaten and No. 12 Rocklin. The game has been moved to Saturday at Folsom High since Folsom itself has a home game on Friday in the other semi against Del Oro. Grant followed up its 65-0 playoff-opening win with a 66-12 manhandling of Fairfield in last week's quarterfinals. It was another monster effort by senior Devontae Butler as the state player of the year candidate rang up six touchdowns and rushed for 292 yards on 18 carries. Speaking of monsters, 6-3, 335-pound junior Vei Moala was just that against Fairfield as well. He had eight tackles, including three sacks. He also blocked a punt and even scored a touchdown when he grabbed another blocked punt out of the air and ran it in for score. Unlike No. 1 Oaks Christian, which could win out and not get picked for the CIF Open Division bowl game, if Grant wins out, the Pacers are a virtual lock to get the CIF Open Division bowl bid from Northern California.

3. (3) Crenshaw (Los Angeles) 12-0
Strength of schedule is often a reason many are saying Crenshaw is in the favorite's role to get the CIF Open Division bowl bid from Southern California instead of Oaks Christian. Looking at the L.A. City Section, though, the only other top 25 team in these rankings is No. 24 Carson (which just went in this week) while Serra of Gardena is ranked No. 13 and is a likely opponent of Oaks Christian next week. Like the Lions, Crenshaw also is leaving no chinks in its armor so far in the playoffs and is crushing inferior opponents as expected. In last week's L.A. City quarterfinals, the Cougars blanked Westchester, 55-0, and advanced to this week's semifinals vs. Dorsey. DeAnthony Thomas had seven carries for 53 yards and one TD plus three catches for 52 yards and another TD to lead the way. If Crenshaw doesn't get into the Open Division for the bowl games, the team still would be favored to get the Division II South spot, although even that could get a challenge if Servite of Anaheim were to win the CIFSS Pac-Five crown.

4. (4) Edison (Huntington Beach) 12-0
We'll find out this weekend if the Sunset League might have been overrated this year in strength or if the Chargers are indeed an elite squad that deserves to be even higher in state and national rankings. After disposing of Dana Hills (Dana Point) by 46-16 in last Friday's CIFSS Pac-Five quarterfinals, Edison is taking on No. 6 Lakewood in this week's semis. It was more of a passing attack in the team's latest win as QB Matt Viles completed 18 of 28 passes for 262 yards and four TDs. He connected with Jeff Trojan for two of his scores with the other two going to Dylan Leener. A 14-0 Charger team at the end of the playoffs with a CIFSS Pac-Five title is certainly going to be tough to deny at the CIF state bowl game selection meeting.

5. (5) Oceanside 11-0
In their first game since getting flipped with Edison in the state rankings and after having a bye in the first-round of the San Diego Section Div. II playoffs, the Pirates were fired up against Mt. Carmel of San Diego last Friday and stormed out to a 38-0 lead at halftime in an eventual 38-14 win against the Sundevils. Quentis Clark hit on 13 of 16 passes for 153 yards and two TDs in the win. Rene Siluano added 81 yards rushing on 13 carries and scored twice. This week, Oceanside will take a 35-0-1 unbeaten streak into the section semifinals where it face Mission Hills of San Marcos. That tie from last year continues to be a thorn even now. If the Pirates had won that game instead of tying, it's likely they would have gone to the CIF Div. II bowl game and maybe they would have come into this season as a two-time defending state champ.

6. (6) Lakewood 11-1
While Elite 11 quarterback Jesse Scroggins gets most of the attention, what should not be overlooked is Lakewood's overall balance on offense, completeness on defense and explosiveness on special teams. That was evident in last week's 34-17 CIFSS Pac-Five quarterfinal victory over previous No. 16 Bishop Amat. Kevin Anderson's 64-yard punt return for a score swung momentum towards Lakewood, but an earlier 39-yard punt return by sophomore Darius Powe set up Lakewood's first touchdown of the game. In the secondary, Dion Bailey is the rock, but Andrew Diaz and Brennan Kelley are underrated defenders. Up front, there may not be a healthy defensive lineman in the Pac-Five better than Justin Utupo, who sacked Amat quarterback Jerry McClanahan four times. "What was the Edison score," Lakewood head coach Thad MacNeal asked a throng of reporters about the state's No. 4 ranked club and this week's semifinal opponent. "I was an assistant for eight years at Los Al, so I know all about Dave White's club. I think they have been the best team in the Pac-Five since week one."

7. (7) De La Salle (Concord) 10-2
As the funnel narrows in the race to Carson, it would seem that the other remaining teams in the North Coast Section Division I playoffs have only a small chance to derail the Spartans in their effort to be the only squad to appear in all four modern era CIF State Football Championships. It certainly wasn't Foothill of Pleasanton and its Pac-10 bound QB Sean Mannion, as Sparta easily tossed aside the Falcons, 56-14, using a combination of its powerful running game and patented bone-crushing defense to dismantle the visitors while holding them to minus-31 yards on the ground. Now comes what most consider the real D1 title game in a re-match with Danville Monte Vista in the semifinals on Friday night in Concord. The last meeting was a 28-21 victory on the road in East Bay Athletic League play that featured a 20-minute delay during the game due to lights failing. It didn't bother Terron Ward. When the lights came back on he finished with a school record 398 yards rushing. On the other side of the bracket, Pittsburg is favored over Fremont Washington. Pittsburg beat De La Salle in 1991; the last time a Northern California team has accomplished that feat.

8. (9) Mission Viejo 12-0
The Diablos move up a spot after throttling bubble squad Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks in the CIFSS Pac-Five quarterfinals. Mission Viejo was the favored club coming in, but the final score (40-14) and the manner in which it manhandled one of the state's most highly-regarded teams coming into the season was a bit of a surprise. Mission Viejo led 21-0 at halftime and began the second half with a nine-play, 80-yard scoring drive to take complete control of the game. Exavier Edwards-Ford led a strong ground attack with 155 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries while junior Tre Madden added 49 yards on six carries as a threat in the Wildcat formation. Madden is also a linebacker on one of the state's best defenses that harassed Notre Dame quarterback Ryan Kasdorf all night and held Kenny Boggs to 17 yards on 10 lugs. Up next in the CIFSS Pac-Five semifinals is No. 9 Servite. Mission also is now up to No. 44 in this week's ESPN RISE FAB 50 national rankings.

9. (10) Servite (Anaheim) 11-1
The Friars were able to preserve a 21-18 victory over Long Beach Poly by blocking a 39-yard field goal attempt with 11 seconds remaining in the game. With the win, Servite moves on to the CIFSS Pac-Five Division semifinals, where it will take on No. 8 Mission Viejo. Squeaking out a win over a team that finished with a .500 record doesn't seem to warrant a ratings move upward, but almost everyone with any interest in this game coming in figured it would be close even though Poly lost its opener to the Friars, 30-7. Not only did Poly make some personnel changes since then, Servite was without the services of tight end Troy Niklas and the most dominant player in the first win over Poly, Karifi Leuta-Taula, was banged up. Not to mention highly-recruited lineman Matthew Jakubiec never suited up for Servite this season. As long as Servite has QB Cody Fajardo in its lineup, who found an open Chris Nicholls for the game-winning score on a fourth and two from the 10-yard line with two minutes remaining, it will have a shot this week against No. 8 Mission Viejo. He's the one player for coach Troy Thomas that is indispensable.

10. (12) Westlake (Westlake Village) 12-0
After picking up a 54-24 win against Hueneme of Oxnard in the CIFSS Northern Division playoffs, the Warriors move up two spots and into the top 10 of our state rankings. With wind gusts up to 50 miles per hour according to the Ventura County Star, the Warriors featured the run game early and often as Tavior Mowry led the rushing attack with 223 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries, all in the opening half. Westlake opened up a 34-0 lead by the halftime break and never looked back. Dallas Clayton also went over the 100-yard mark on the ground as he rushed for 148 yards on just six carries. Quarterback Nick Isham played a big part in five touchdowns on the night as he passed for three scores and reached the end zone with the ball twice. A tough matchup on Friday against No. 14 St. Bonaventure is now all that stands in the way of a championship game appearance by Westlake.

11. (11) Norco 11-1
Having to battle Arlington of Riverside into overtime in the second-round of the CIFSS Inland Division playoffs doesn't cost the Cougars a spot in these rankings, but they did get hopped by new No. 10 Westlake. The 26-20 win actually went to a second overtime and was clinched on a 22-yard TD pass from Taylor Villoria to Carl Bradford followed by the Norco defense denying Arlington. For the game, Deantre Lewis topped the Norco offense with 180 yards, including a 20-yard TD in the first overtime. This week, while the CIFSS Pac-Five semis are more in the spotlight, the Inland Division semis are stacked as well. Norco plays No. 16 Vista Murrieta in one of them while the other is Corona Centennial vs. Chaparral of Temecula.

12. (19) Rocklin 12-0
This week's highest mover is the Thunder. They go up this high due to their CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Div. II playoff performances so far, due to a team they beat (Del Oro) ending the unbeaten hopes of Stockton St. Mary's and because they will get to take a crack at No. 2 Grant on Saturday at Folsom High. In the 35-6 win last weekend against Atwater in the quarterfinals, Jackson Cummings got going in the second half and ended the night with 135 yards and five TDs. Chris Clowdus led the defense with two interceptions as the Thunder defense held the opposition to seven points or less for the fifth time this year. Rocklin will be the underdog when it goes up against Grant, but Del Oro was in a similar situation against St. Mary's and had to play on the road. While Rocklin won't be at home, the team will be at a neutral site.

13. (13) Serra (Gardena) 12-0
Playing in the CIFSS Northwest Division, Serra coach Scott Altenberg figured his team might have to travel up California's coast for a playoff game, so he put together a strict travel itinerary for his team to stick to. The plan worked, as Nipomo went down in defeat, 48-18. The early departure from L.A.'s South Bay included a walk-through at a local junior college. For the locals playing Serra, it probably felt like strapping it up against Allan Hancock or Cuesta College as Robert Woods got Serra on the board by taking a slant 82 yards for a touchdown on the third play from scrimmage. Junior George Farmar also played well, catching two touchdown passes from QB Conner Preston, who accounted for four scores, and added 34 yards rushing on four carries. This week, it will probably be another military-like regime for Altenberg and his boys as they face 12-0 St. Joseph of Santa Maria in what should be a much more hostile battle in enemy territory.

14. (14) St. Bonaventure (Ventura) 11-1
Despite playing on the road, the Seraphs continue to look like they're playing on their own field as they defeated Newbury Park, 39-0, in the CIFSS Northern Division quarterfinals. Devon Blackledge carried the ball 16 times for 162 yards and scored two touchdowns and a two-point conversion while also adding another score on a 33-yard toss from Logan Meyer. In the win, Meyer also passed for 230 yards and three touchdowns with the majority of those passes going to Christian White, who caught seven passes for 140 yards and a touchdown. As the regular season has wound down and now into the playoffs, the Seraphs' defense has shined as it has now recorded shutouts in three of the last four games after a six-sack performance on Friday against the Panthers. In order to make the section championship game, St. Bonnie will have to hand Westlake its first loss of the season this Friday when they meet in the semifinals.

15. (17) La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad) 11-0
Garrett Krstich hit on 14 of 19 passes for 160 yards and rushed 11 times for 45 yards and two TDs as the Mavericks moved on in the CIF San Diego Section Div. I playoffs with a 21-7 win over Torrey Pines of San Diego. The other big news was that wideout Kenny Stills set a new section record when he upped his career pass reception yardage total of 2,954. Stills caught seven passes in the game for 103 yards. The Mavs hope leading rusher Seth Hanson comes back this week after missing the Torrey Pines games. His replacement, Weston Manor, did well with 20 carries for 148 yards. Up next for the defending Div. I section champs is a matchup in the semifinals this week against Vista.

16. (20) Vista Murrieta (Murrieta) 12-0
After getting a four-spot jump in this week's rankings, the Broncos will be looking to go much higher next week since they are playing No. 11 Norco in the CIFSS Inland Division semifinals. They come into that game after impressing in a 33-6 victory over Redlands. Derrick Brown continued to star on offense with 17 carries for 111 yards and two scores plus 72 yards through the air and another touchdown. Eddie Lackey's 21-yard TD run was another key play in the contest. A plus for Vista Murrieta's ranking is that league rival Chaparral of Temecula was the one that knocked out previous No. 15 state-ranked Redlands East Valley in another Inland Division quarterfinal.

17. (21) Valencia 12-0
The Vikings also get a four-spot bump this week and continue on a collision course with perhaps No. 10 Westlake or state power St. Bonnie in the CIFSS Northern Division finals after a 49-22 thrashing of Ventura Buena in the quarterfinals. Darrol Mitchell's 22nd sack of the season set up Valencia's fifth first half TD, as the boys from the Santa Clarita Valley led 35-7 after two quarters. Quarterback Alex Bishop had four TDs and 284 yards passing on a pinpoint 12-of-14 attempts before he and his mates took a halftime break. The 5-10, 166-pound signal caller added a touchdown run and threw a 50-yard TD pass to wide receiver Zach Tartabull in the second half before coming out midway through the third quarter. Running back Steven Manfro had 99 yards rushing and one score to go with two receptions for 109 yards and a receiving touchdown. Before Coach Larry Muir and his charges can think about anyone in the finals, of course, it will have to deal with No. 19 Moorpark in the semifinals at home on Saturday night.

18. (23) Bullard (Fresno) 11-0
It's a five-spot move upward for the only Division I team in the Central Section left undefeated, as the Knights took care of business in a 35-9 drubbing of Fresno Clovis West. Bullard used a vise-like defense and quarterback Kerr Taubler was very efficient, completing 12 of 16 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receiver Jajuan Hammond was on the other end of 10 of those passes for 161 yards and both scores. With top-seeded Clovis Buchanan losing on the other side of the bracket in the Central Section Division I playoffs, second-seeded Bullard, with its best record ever, would seem to be in a good position to win its first-ever section title in the 54-year history of the school. Before the fans get too excited, however, head coach Donnie Arax's boys must still win two games. First, they have to get past a Bakersfield team in this week's semifinals that beat them in the section title game four years ago.

19. (22) Moorpark 11-1
Austin Edmonson reached the end zone three times in the second quarter alone and finished with 175 yards rushing as the Musketeers blasted Camarillo and recent state boys athlete of the week Jeff Mathews, 49-7, in the second-round of the CIFSS Northern Division playoffs. Brian Blechen also had a nice game running the ball as he scored on an eight-yard run to tie the game in the first quarter and then opened the scoring after the halftime break with a 45-yard touchdown run. The best case scenario for Moorpark over the next two weeks is to beat No. 17 Valencia in this week's semifinals and then hope for rematch and the possibility of an avenging win over No. 10 Westlake in the finals. A CIF Div. II state bowl could even in the cards if that happens as well, especially if Crenshaw were to nab the Open Division berth and if Servite of Anaheim and Norco lose in the Pac-Five and Inland Division playoffs.

20. (24) Nevada Union (Grass Valley) 11-1
A week after making their debut in our state rankings, the Miners have now mined their way into the top 20 after a 41-7 victory over Sheldon of Sacramento in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I quarterfinals. With top seed and previously unbeaten Tracy ousted, NU looks like a slight favorite to us to win the title in that division. Broughan Jantz led the Miners to scores on their first four possessions, as he was 7-for-11 for 146 yards and three touchdowns while also contributing on the defensive side of the ball with an interception. Arizona-bound tight end Dan Pettinato was the go-to guy for Jantz, as he was on the receiving end for the first two touchdowns of the game while Drew Hoskin rushed for 126 yards and two scores. Pettinato and Chad Knight each recorded two sacks on defense as they held the Huskies to just 147 total yards on the night. NU, which has lost only to Rocklin, goes up against Pleasant Grove of Elk Grove in this week's semifinals.

21. (NR) Del Oro (Loomis) 10-2
Head coach Casey Taylor hopes we continue to predict losses for his team this season since the Golden Eagles are 2-0 in those games, including last Friday's 30-29 upset of previous No. 8 St. Mary's. Del Oro still has an ugly loss to Woodcreek of Roseville on its resume, but the win against St. Mary's still jumps the team into this week's overall state rankings. After Taylor's defensive coaches had to figure out ways to slow down the St. Mary's offense (they did), the midnight oil will be burning again this week as the Golden Eagles are playing 11-1 Folsom in the semifinals. The Bulldogs run a no-huddle spread often with an empty backfield and it's been almost impossible to stop so far this season, especially with magician Dano Graves running it from the QB position.

22. (8) St. Mary's (Stockton) 11-1*
In one of the most talked about results of the weekend, the Del Oro Golden Eagles went to Stockton and ended the Rams' season in a back-and-forth 30-29 contest that came down to the final minute. After a surprising scoreless first quarter, the Rams quickly showed why the offense was considered to be one of the best in the state this year as Marcus McDade tossed two touchdown passes which included a 20-yarder to Louie Lechich for the game's first score. With a 14-0 lead, the Rams gave up a late score right before half and Del Oro continued the momentum in the third quarter. McDade managed to rally the Rams back to retake the lead after running for a score and passing for a third touchdown on the night, but he was unable to lead a last minute rally after the Rams gave up the game-winning score with just over a minute remaining. Due to a 34-10 win over Bellarmine Prep of San Jose, which is still going in the Central Coast Section, St. Mary's did not drop out of this week's rankings. To stay in, the Rams need the Bells to win the CCS title.

23. (25) Bellarmine (San Jose) 10-1-1
In a battle of running attacks, it was the Bells who had the more potent weapons in a 20-10 CIF Central Coast Section Open Division semifinal victory at San Jose City College over West Catholic Athletic League rival Serra of San Mateo. Kyle Olugbode scored twice on short runs and finished with 129 yards on 21 carries. Quarterback Mike McGovern had 122 yards rushing on 15 carries, including a 51-yard TD run that closed out the scoring after Serra had closed to 13-10. The defense also came up big, limiting six Serra runners to a combined 159 yards on 35 carries. Coach Mike Janda's boys now go for a second-straight CCS Open Division title this Friday night against league rival St. Francis of Mountain View in an all WCAL title game matchup once again at San Jose City College.

24. (NR) Carson 10-2
The Colts crack the top 25 this week following a 31-7 victory over L.A. Locke in a Wednesday quarterfinal matchup last week in the L.A. City Section Div. I playoffs. The Colts' victory over the Saints is not the particular reason why the Colts jump in this week as much as their overall body of work. They have lost to only one in-state foe, No. 13 Serra, by 10 points (27-17) and went through the rugged Marine League undefeated. Besides the three-interception performance by cornerback Dwan Gill, Carson coach Mike Christensen was not too thrilled by his team's performance against Locke. He knows his team will have to be firing on all cylinders if it is to have any chance to defeat state No. 3 Crenshaw in a probable city final matchup. First things first, however, as Carson has a semifinal date with a hot Narbonne of Harbor City team the Colts previously beat during league play, 41-28.

25. (NR) Centennial (Corona) 10-2
After losing in their regular season finale to Norco by one point, the defending CIF Division I state bowl game champs have ramped it up in the CIFSS Inland Division playoffs. In last weekend's game, the Huskies faced unbeaten Rancho Verde of Moreno Valley and impressed with a 52-21 win. The game wasn't even that close as it was 38-7 at halftime and 52-7 after three quarters. Denzel Hawkins led the ground game with 15 carries for 121 yards and three TDs while Dion Bass came up with 94 yards and two scores on 14 attempts. Coach Matt Logan's club faces 9-3 Chaparral of Temecula in this week's semifinals. It's a rematch of an opening game in which the Huskies topped the Pumas, 28-21. Chap is coming in after a 14-7 win over previous No. 15 Redlands East Valley.

December 1, 2009
Sac High's Turner stars at Tip Off Classic against St. Mary's of Berkeley

Led by a dominating performance from 6-foot-3 junior guard Josiah Turner, Sacramento High School opened its boys basketball season with an impressive 63-57 win over St. Mary's of Berkeley Saturday night at the Nor Cal Tip Off Classic at Newark Memorial High School.

The game was the nightcap of seven games involving top Northern California teams.
Turner, considered the top junior class recruit in Northern California, scored 27 points and was named the Player of the Game.

The Dragons played without senior guard Travon Abraham, who missed the game with a leg injury.

Lee Hubbard, who covered the event for, noted that 6-10 post Robert Garrett, a junior, and 6-8 senior forward Will Davis "must have blocked 20 shots between them" and he also was impressed the play of junior guard Lee Carter and sophomores Darius Graham and Erick Kenny.

Dominique and Demetrius Lee combined for 37 points for St. Mary's.

December 1, 2009
Breaking down tonight's NorCal championship matches

Each of the past six years a team from the Sacramento area has qualified for the CIF state volleyball championships. Three -- Oak Ridge, St. Francis and Christian Brothers -- have the chance to get there tonight as regional finals will be contested across the northern and southern portions of the state.

Can Oak Ridge break through and make its first state championship appearance? Can St. Francis storm the castle and take down the ever-powerful Archbishop Mitty Monarchs, who have ruled volleyball in the northern half of the state for the better part of a decade? Can Christian Brothers make a repeat trip -- which would be a third in four years -- to state?

By about 10 tonight, we'll have answers. Stay tuned.

Division I

No. 3 seed Salinas (28-4) at No. 1 seed Oak Ridge (28-11)

Plenty of motivation here for two programs seeking to make their first-ever state championship appearance. Trojan middle blockers Sarah Horning and Hayley Simmons will have their hands full with a powerful, athletic Salinas front line that likes to execute its offense as quickly as possible.

Division II

No. 3 seed St. Francis (39-6) at No. 1 seed Archbishop Mitty-San Jose (38-0)

It would be much easier if the Monarchs had one or even two players to focus on stopping but the fact is, they have five viable attack options, including two -- Kristina Graven and Rachel Williams -- who have better than 300 kills this season. Graven and Williams had each had big games when these two teams faced each other in the first round of the Archbishop Mitty Invitational in mid-September, a match the Monarchs swept.

Division IV

No. 3 seed Ripon (39-10) at No. 1 seed Christian Brothers (29-9)

The latest in what is becoming one of the valley's more entertaining -- if not a tad lopsided -- rivalries. The Falcons have beaten Ripon the past eight times the two teams have played, including four playoff matches, four of which have gone five sets. In last year's NorCal championship match the Indians stunned Ron Limeberger Gymnasium by taking the first two sets before the Falcons stormed back. In last week's Sac-Joaquin Section D-IV championship match it was Christian Brothers which saw a two-set lead evaporate before gutting out a fifth-set comeback.

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

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