It was cold enough to be football weather, a wintry chill blasting through the region, right on through Prairie City Stadium.
Those without sleeves competed in drills — linemen, linebackers, skill players — while those in the stands huddled under anything warm.
On Saturday afternoon, Folsom High School was the host site for the Northern California Under Armour regional camp, a who’s who of returning star players from across the West Coast, including scores from the Sac-Joaquin Section.
Daniyel Ngata was among the student-athletes who turned heads. The Folsom junior, rated the No. 2 all-purpose back in the country by 24/7, dazzled in drills — running, catching, etc. He was also the only one on hand to receive an invite to the Under Armour All-America Game next winter (older brothers Ariel, now at Washington, and Joe, now at Clemson, played in this event).
Ngata has offers from Alabama, LSU, Michigan, Oregon, Tennessee, Washington and several others. He was paramount in helping Folsom win back-to-back CIF State Division 1-AA championships.
Speculation — or just reckless, rampant rumors — of Ngata returning to his home in Reno, or heading to IMG Academy in Florida, or to Mater Dei in Santa Ana, are unfounded. This included assistant coaches from area programs who insisted the departure of Folsom coach Kris Richardson and others to Sacramento State prompted such a family move. False.
Ray Ngata, father of Daniyel, confirmed to The Bee his son will finish at Folsom, saying, “Daniyel and the other (soon-to-be) seniors are expected to step up to that leadership position and help Folsom not only go through this coaching transition but also to keep their eye on new titles.”
Other Folsom players who impressed included national recruits Elijhah Badger, a receiver who worked out at defensive back, and defensive end DeShawn Lynch. All-purpose star CJ Hutton also fared well for Folsom.
Rocklin two-way lineman Bobby Piland — the only freshman to make The Bee’s All-Metro football lists — earned praise for his work, as did Placer two-way lineman Kyle Christensen, Grant two-way lineman Omarr Norman-Lott and Davis tackle Gerad Lichtenhan, a towering fellow at 6-foot-8.
Dusty Baker, as great an all-purpose athlete this area has seen, will be inducted into the National Federation of State High School Associations Hall of Fame this summer. Baker played football, basketball, baseball and track at Del Campo in the mid 1960s.
He set scoring records in football as a running back and return specialist, averaged 15 points and 13 rebounds in basketball, set a school record in the 100-yard dash at 9.8 seconds and was a star in baseball, eventually playing 19 major-league seasons before becoming a manager.
Del Campo has named Aaron Goldfried as football coach after the program’s winningest coach — Mike Dimino — officially tendered his resignation. Goldfried was a longtime assistant to Dimino, who wanted Goldfried to replace him.
At Cosumnes Oaks, Andrew Bettencourt has been named the new football coach. He replaces Derick Milgrim.
Tony Martello, a 200-game football winner at his alma mater of Colfax, will be honored and inducted at the 49th Northern California Sports Association Hall of Fame dinner March 16 in Yuba City.
Martello over 23 seasons has gone 212-63-1 with 20 playoff teams, 14 league and four section titles in 10 title-game appearances. Colfax played for the CIF State Division 5-A championship Last season.
Others being inducted include Dave Humphers, a winner of 200-plus games at Nevada Union and his current school of River Valley, retired Granite Bay football assistant and wrestling coach Mike Lynch and John Smith, the retired Sacramento State baseball coach.
For information: 530-906-4014.
The end of basketball season included the end of remarkable coaching careers by three of the region’s best leaders and champions, each expressing a need to catch their breath and spend time with family.
Ray Gagnon bows out at Center after winning 500 games combined with the girls and boys teams. He’s the winningest coach for each program.
Rob Richards stepped away from Antelope, where he founded the program 10 years ago and produced two section championship teams.
At Colfax, Terry O’Keefe stepped down to allow himself more time to watch son Garren play football at UC Davis. O’Keefe led Colfax to the section finals a year ago.
And Josh Williams, the youngest of the three, is out after seven enormously successful seasons at Liberty Ranch in Galt, where he won 174 games (third-most in the section in that stretch for public schools) and reached the section finals three times and the NorCal playoffs six times. His home playoff record was 14-1.
Football Foundation fun
The National Football Foundation, Sacramento Chapter, honored student-athletes and named Ross Evans as the first Fred Arp honoree, recognizing an area assistant coach. Evans has been a staple at Jesuit for 40 years, as classy as he is game-day firm.
Arp was the decades-long UC Davis assistant coach who died in July.
Local high school players recognized for their grade-point average, good character and football achievements: Blake Baughman, Placer; Logan Benoit, Inderkum; Eric Bledsoe, Oakmont; Jonathan Boyd, Capital Christian; Will Buck, Capital Christian; Joey Capra, Placer; Daniel Carrion, Winters; Parker Clayton, Folsom; Andre Crump, Monterey Trail; Andrew Dettling, Christian Brothers; Connor Ericksen, Casa Roble; Chance Gallup, Christian Brothers; Jake Green, Colfax; Tyler Hardeman, Folsom; Hank Harvego, Jesuit; Matt Jenner, Oak Ridge; Elijah King, Cosumnes Oaks; Zach Larrier, Monterey Trail; Laitu Latu, Jesuit; Charlie McBride, Rocklin; Colton McElroy, Placer; Connor McIntee, Jesuit; Joseph Mintmier, Oakmont; Dante Pericin, Del Oro; Peter Povey, Casa Roble; Kaden Richardson, Folsom; Charlie Rogers, Del Oro; Michael Stuck, Placer; Carter Sullivan, Antelope; Jacob Trach, Cosumnes Oaks; Alex Weir, Colfax; Carson Westlake, Del Oro; Ryan Whalley, Del Oro; Cade Wyant, Rocklin; and Tyson Ybarra, Rio Linda.