High School Sports

Some lead top area teams. Others face hard times. For new coaches, the pressure is on.

Meet 25 Sacramento-area high school football senior stars

The Sacramento Bee highlights 25 high school seniors expecting to make an impact on the football field: in the trenches, skill players and defenders.
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The Sacramento Bee highlights 25 high school seniors expecting to make an impact on the football field: in the trenches, skill players and defenders.

The high school football season starts Friday night with “Zero Week” games, and what value does zero have here?

It’s an easy way of saying that schools have 11 weeks to play 10 regular-season games.

New coaches dot the landscape, including one who never anticipated a change.

Jesse Armas has gone from low-pressure assistant coach at Whitney to sudden interim head coach for the Wildcats, who are reeling from a trying week.

The Sac-Joaquin Section ruled that Whitney, already on football probation, would not be eligible for the postseason this season for five minor practice-session violations over two-plus years, and Whitney replaced coach Paul Doherty with Armas, a Spanish teacher on campus who leads the No. 15 Wildcats into Davis for an opener.

Other first-year coaches include:

▪ John Heffernan, who after 15 playoff seasons at Burbank takes over at Elk Grove, where the No. 6 Thundering Herd hosts No. 7 Inderkum. Eddie Elder, the former Burbank star, replaces Heffernan.

▪ Casey Taylor, who won six Sac-Joaquin Section championships, two Northern California and one CIF State title at Del Oro, now leads upstart Capital Christian, which plays Service of Alaska.

▪ Jeff Walters, who led Liberty High in Brentwood to two playoff appearances in four seasons, returns to his alma mater of Del Oro, where he played sports and got his coaching start. Del Oro plays Cathedral of San Diego, coming off a 15-0 season.

▪ Matt Costa, who elevated Kennedy from 0-10 to back-to-back playoffs appearances, is at Pleasant Grove, coming off an 0-10 season and opening at Placer. Brian Lewis replaces Costa.

▪ Justin Reber, who led Sacramento to some of its greatest seasons, leads an El Dorado program that has returned to relevance with four consecutive playoff berths under Joe Volek, the school’s athletic director. El Dorado plays Del Mar of San Jose. Joe McCray now coaches Sacramento, which opens against Mitty of San Jose.

▪ Jack Garceau, a longtime assistant Rio Linda assistant, is now the head coach for a Knights program that went 11-2 and 10-3 in 2013 and 2014, but dipped to 1-9 and 4-6 in the last two seasons. Rio Linda plays Center.

▪ Chris Horner moves up after leading championship junior varsity teams at Casa Roble. He replaces the program’s winningest coach, Norm Ryan, now an assistant at Granite Bay. Casa Roble plays Bella Vista.

Low numbers – West Campus is the only regional program to drop varsity football this season due to low participation numbers.

Vacaville Christian dropped its varsity program for the same reason, the section learned Thursday. Lathrop and Kimball of Tracy, both newer schools, dropped junior varsity teams, as did Nevada Union.

Violations – The section announced Galt forfeited its five victories last season due to playing an ineligible player. The violation was self-reported by the school.

▪ Capital Christian, Galt and Woodland each lost two days of practice this month for conducting contact drills during a dead period.

Basketball finals – The section basketball finals will return to Pacific, but the semifinals for all divisions will be held at home sites. The semifinals at Pacific included a lot of Sacramento-area teams, but attendance numbers weren’t good.

Joe Davidson: 916-321-1280, @SacBee_JoeD

Kicking off

With the high school football season starting Friday, The Bee’s print edition will feature expanded coverage every Sunday, including insight from Joe Davidson, highlights of the top weekend games, how The Bee’s Top 20 fared, scores and more. Can’t wait until Sunday? Go to sacbee.com after the games on Friday nights for highlights, scores and more.

Report your results

Coaches are encouraged to report results immediately after games. Call 916-441-4100 or email scores and stats to preps@sacbee.com.

Live chat

Join us every Friday night at 6:30 p.m. to discuss the night’s games as the action unfolds around the region.


Where’s Joe D?

The Bee’s Davidson will be at Elk Grove High School for the sixth-ranked Thundering Herd’s game against No. 7 Inderkum.

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