Oak Ridge quarterback Marco Baldacchino is running out from the shadows of cousin Dano Graves and Ian Book, the Trojans’ prolific passer now on scholarship at Notre Dame.
Friday night in El Dorado Hills, Baldacchino had touchdown runs of 67, 16 and 2 yards to lead the No. 7 Trojans to a 28-0 victory over Granite Bay in Sierra Foothill League action.
The junior only attempted five passes in the game after amassing 873 yards through the air and 12 touchdowns for the Trojans (6-1, 3-0). After Friday’s rushing effort of 122 yards and three touchdowns, he’s totaled 543 yards and 10 scores on the ground.
Oak Ridge relied on its running game against Granite Bay (1-6, 0-3) amid gusty winds and driving rain for much of the contest.
“We prepared for the rain all week by throwing wet footballs,” Baldacchino said. “But it was obvious early that throwing it would be tough. So luckily I have some ability with my feet, a God-given talent.”
If he can lead his team to SFL road wins against No. 3 Del Oro next week and No. 2 Folsom on Nov. 4, then Baldacchino will move one step closer to his own sunshine.
Graves, the 2010 Bee Player of the Year, led his Folsom Bulldogs to a state title.
Book, an All-Metro selection last season, set plenty of team records before grabbing a scholarship with the Fighting Irish.
Baldacchino will have the company of running back Michael Pittman this year and junior wide receiver Justin Poerio through the 2017 season.
Pittman had a season-high 207 yards last week in a 27-15 victory over Rocklin. His 96-yard touchdown run set a school record. But he was quiet Friday with 58 yards on 12 carries, including a 7-yard TD in the third quarter.
The Grizzlies’ defense focused on him, allowing Poerio to have a breakout night with 96 yards on 17 touches. In the first six games, he had 121 yards on 17 carries. Poerio’s 17-yard catch in the third quarter set up Baldacchino’s 2-yard TD.
“(Baldacchino) was having success up the middle and they were keyed on Pittman so we ran a lot of fly sweeps and that was working all game,” Poerio said. “At halftime, our coaches said there was no need to change things up. The fly sweep was working.”
Poerio, who also added all four point-after kicks, had the most impact on defense. He made two interceptions that the Trojans converted into touchdowns. The Oak Ridge defense also forced two fumbles.
“With a rain game we knew people would be making mistakes,” Poerio said. “The first one was thrown a little outside, but on the second I watched (the quarterback’s) eyes and broke on the ball.”
Granite Bay last missed the playoffs 17 years ago when many of its current players were yet to be born. There’s been plenty of league titles and playoff berths during that run, capped by a 2012 Division I state championship.
A sweep of Del Oro and Folsom will assure the Trojans of a SFL title and the playoff berth that comes with it. A split and the Trojans will likely still get a playoff berth and a favorable seeding due to the SFL’s strength.
Poerio, for one, is ready for the remaining schedule and the looming matchups.
“We say ‘Bring it on,’ ” Poerio said. “We lost Ian Book and people doubted us this year. Our only loss to was the Nevada state champion (Reed High, 55-34) so we’re confident that we’ll do well against those two great teams.”
Mark Billingsley is a Carmichael-based freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org, @editorwriter001