There’s a Romo in Dallas who has a simmering fan base.
And there’s a Romo who roams Placer County, quietly crafting together a championship season, with all the promise to keep the momentum going.
Drew Romo wasn’t spectacular as much as he was steady in keying Whitney High School past Cosumnes Oaks 34-9 on Friday night in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoff game expected to be a great deal more competitive.
A 6-foot-4, 200-pound senior, Romo was paramount in the Wildcats of Rocklin recovering from a 1-3 season start to win the Capital Athletic League last week with a victory over Antelope. The encore was a balanced offensive attack, a sterling effort by a secondary that faced two Pacific-12 Conference wide receiver recruits and a seven-game winning streak that carries the program into Loomis next Friday to face Bee No. 2-ranked Del Oro, the top seed in D-II.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Sacramento Bee
Romo, named this week as the CAL Offensive Player of the Year, showcased his versatility in eliminating the Wolfpack. He hit Kwane Wilkinson for a 13-yard touchdown pass to open the scoring and plowed in from a yard out to make it 27-3.
“He’s pretty good,” Whitney coach Mike Gimenez said. “We are playing great football at the right time. Drew’s smart, athletic and can make all the throws.”
The X-factor here was how the Whitney defense would handle national receiver recruit Alex Van Dyke, headed to UCLA, and junior standout wideout L.J. Reed, who has a number of Pac-12 scholarship offers. The defense won that competition, with Josh Gallofin playing some superb one-on-one coverage on the 6-4 Van Dyke, known to obliterate foes with his vertical game. He had five catches for 64 yards, including an 18-yard touchdown reception on a pass from Jaaron Stallworth in the fourth quarter to pull to the Wolfpack within 27-9. Reed had four catches for 55 yards.
Nolan Squyres had a 1-yard score for Whitney, and Jordan Traynor was again strong at linebacker for Wildcats (8-3). He returned an interception 65 yards for a score to make it 13-0 and then capped the scoring with a 15-yard touchdown run. Justin Nishita had two interceptions and Kyle McCray had two second-half sacks for Whitney, which rejoiced afterward with a coaching staff that remains loyal to the tradition of wearing shorts, no matter how cold.
The offensive line of Mark Mueller, Nishita, Matt Magee, Geno Chiarpotti and Nate Hilliker stood as unsung performers for Whitney in keeping the faster Wolfpack at bay.
“CO is very athletic and dangerous,” Gimenez said. “Van Dyke is special, but they have a bunch of weapons. Scary team.”
And suddenly, Whitney looms as a very dangerous one. The Wildcats know well they have to play similarly relaxed at Del Oro in facing a run-dominant team that has excelled on the lines all season.
Cosumnes Oaks (7-4) bids a fond farewell to two program scholars and leaders in quarterback Alex Kropp, a 4.7 student who may graduate at the top of his class but had to leave the game during the third quarter with concussion-like symptoms. Left tackle Kameron Schroeder, a 4.2 student, is headed to Duke. Van Dyke, a 3.5 student, now prepares for basketball, expressing disappointment that he couldn’t do more to elevate his team.
On this night, he was outnumbered.
Follow Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_Joe D. Joe Davidson and Mike Finnerty break down the section playoffs from 9 to 10 a.m. on ESPN1320 (linked later to ESPN1320.net).