High School Sports

Center quarterback Wortham has breakout game in upset win over Rio Linda

Center’s Michael Wortham didn’t shy away from contact during Friday’s 48-40 win over Rio Linda.
Center’s Michael Wortham didn’t shy away from contact during Friday’s 48-40 win over Rio Linda. jpierce@sacbee.com

At 5-foot-9, 160 pounds, Center quarterback Michael Wortham might not seem like the kind of guy who would put fear in an opponent’s heart. His performance Friday might change that.

Wortham accounted for four touchdowns as Center took down sixth-ranked Rio Linda 48-40 in a packed Marion L. Adams Memorial Stadium. The win by the Cougars marked the second year in a row they managed to upset the Knights.

Doing a lot with a little is something of a theme for Center, which has just 27 players on its roster.

Center coach Digol J’Beily can appreciate a good quarterback because he was one himself. He enjoys coaching a player with Wortham’s skill set because of his ability as a football player and leader of the team.

“(J’Beily) over the past few seasons taught me everything he learned while he played quarterback at Center,” Wortham said. “He’s done so much for me over the past four years and I can’t thank him enough.”

Wortham has a deep connection to Center High School. He strives to make it big, so he can give back to his school. Many former players have come back to the program to be assistant coaches, which could be in the cards for Wortham some day.

J’Beily said he appreciates the rivalry Rio Linda and Center have. When he was the quarterback for Center in the late 1980s, they traded victories and ran the football. To him, winning games like this never gets old.

“When I played at Center, we always played Rio Linda and it was a big rivalry back then,” J’Beily said. “Once wins like this get old, that’s when you have to stop coaching. Wins like this just helps boost confidence for this team.”

Rio Linda is a run-heavy team led by senior Cameron Skattebo, who rushed for 3,550 yards last season. However, versus Center the last two seasons, Rio Linda struggled to get it going out of the gate.

The defense and special teams also played a big factor in the win by returning a kickoff for a touchdown, blocking extra points and forcing multiple fumbles. J’Beily hopes the win over a ranked team gives his team a jumpstart.

“Rio Linda is such a great team,” J’Beily said. “Getting a win over somebody like that, can boost the whole team’s confidence for the rest of the season.”

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