Some of the posters taped up at Del Oro’s stadium by their rivals were tore down as soon as they were discovered. One was left fluttering in the breeze to serve as motivation. Rivalry Week in Placer County is always interesting when the Del Oro Golden Eagles and Granite Bay Grizzlies play.
Sometime over the last few days, students from Granite Bay High School snuck onto the Del Oro High campus and affixed various signs meant to taunt their rivals.
The No. 3 Golden Eagles used that extra bit of motivational juice to crush the No. 8 Grizzlies 42-7 Friday at Granite Bay in the Sierra Foothill League opener. Del Oro moved to 5-0 overall. Granite Bay, the defending Sac-Joaquin Section Division II champ, dropped to 2-3 and 0-1. The Grizzlies beat the Golden Eagles last fall 22-0 in the section final.
“There have been some fun things, nothing too bad,” Del Oro senior tight end and linebacker Charlie Rogers said of the pranks and ribbing throughout rivalry week. “There were some posters put up about the 2017 (Sac-Joaquin) Section title game that just said ‘22-0.’ But that was last year and you can’t live in the past. We left that one up. We wanted to practice under that one.”
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In retaliation, Rogers said he heard some Del Oro students came down the hill and Saran wrapped one of the buildings on Granite Bay’s campus. It was Del Oro’s defense and special teams that wrapped up Granite Bay Friday night.
Hunter Silva blocked a punt at the Grizzlies’ 10-yard line on the game’s fourth play, scooped it up at the 4 and rumbled in for a score before most of the student rooting sections were seated. Granite Bay committed two more turnovers, a fumble and an interception, that led to scores – an Aiden Foster 1-yard run and a Sheldon Conde 4-yard run, respectively.
Foster added a 4-yard scoring run just before the half to stake the Golden Eagles to a 28-0 lead. Conde and Foster each added short scoring runs in the third quarter.
Dante Pericin had two interceptions to lead a stout Golden Eagles defense.
“Our defense, man, every week it can be a different player and tonight it was Dante’s night to shine,” Del Oro coach Jeff Walters said. “He’s a fantastic player and a fantastic human being. I’m so happy for him.”
Many of the players on both rosters have either played youth football with or against each other for years. Couple that with the SFL games and frequent playoff matchups, and these two teams have built as healthy a rivalry as any in the region.
“(Granite Bay’s) Ty Peterson, I spent some time with him over the summer, he’s a pretty cool guy,” Rogers said. “I got to know their quarterback and some of the running backs, and I’ve been playing against them since the sixth grade. Rivalry week is just fun seeing those guys every year.”
Del Oro debuted an all-white away jersey Friday night called “ghosts.” The numbers on the front and back had thin, black outlines and they replaced the normal gold wings on their helmets with white wings just for this game.
“The ‘ghosts’ are kind of nice,” Rogers said. “We’re only going to wear them for two games – Granite Bay and Rocklin … two rivalry games.”
The Del Oro student rooting section, known as the “Black Hole,” came mostly dressed in camouflage. Rogers said “they were on the hunt.”
Granite Bay scored its lone TD late in the game when quarterback TJ Robertson connected on a 4-yard pass to Cobe Weeks.
The Grizzlies are still recovering from a rash of injuries that started in a Week 1 loss to Monte Vista. Granite Bay coach Jeff Evans said some of those injuries are season-ending but he doesn’t expect the rest of the SFL to shed any tears for the Grizzlies.
“We’re pretty thin right now but everyone is beat up,” Evans said. “The guys who have been forced into action have matured. We’ve had the injuries all year and the guys who were injured were seniors, so the juniors had to step up and it took them a couple of weeks.”
Evans knew going in that his team had a tough task trying to slow down the Golden Eagles who had outscored their first four opponents 203-65. But committing five turnovers wasn’t in the game plan.
“If we had to rely on my speeches to get these guys ready we’d go 0-10 every season,” Evans said. “These guys know what they need to do to put their mark on this program, they know the history and tradition, so there’s nothing left for me to say because these guys feel it. We try to play up to a certain standard no matter who we’re playing.”
In the postgame huddle near the north endzone, Walters gathered his players and told them to look over their shoulders at the scoreboard. Then he told them to forget the score.
“If that is the highlight of our season,” he bellowed, pointing to the glowing bulbs, “then we should be ashamed of ourselves, because we didn’t meet our goals.”
Beating Granite Bay on the road was one goal. But the Golden Eagles have championships on the mind.