Off and running again, beware the Monterey Mustangs.
A year after going a school-record best 12-1, The Bee’s second-ranked team has overcome mass losses to graduation in the backfield to reload, regroup and unleash the veer run game.
Otha Williams rushed for 219 yards and four touchdowns to lead a rushing attack that generated 395 yards in racing past Spanish Springs of Nevada, 47-7 last Friday. Monterey Trail beat Sheldon 42-14 in an opener by rushing for 372 yards and five scores, including three by Williams, a junior.
The credit goes to the backs, certainly, and the offensive line of Andreas Argumedo, Jasdev Banwait, Mario Keanon, Daniel Ramirez, Lathun Snipes and Kelepi Talakai, the anchors of the program, according to coach T.J. Ewing.
The defense has been led by Marcus Jones and William Reyes, who combined for 22 tackles against Spanish Springs. Antonio Williams had eight tackles and returned a fumble 83 yards for a touchdown.
Said assistant coach Rick Arcuri, “This is a good group. They’re establishing themselves.”
Change of pace
Longtime Northern Section power East Nicolaus was in scramble mode after Mesa Verde forfeited this week’s game against the Spartans due to low varsity numbers.
So athletic director and assistant coach Neil Stinson worked the internet and the phones in quick order to find a Saturday game – in San Francisco at Galileo High, which opened in 1921. The Lions went 12-1 in 2013, 11-2 in 2017 and 7-3 last season.
East Nicolaus has peeled off successive seasons of 13-2, 13-1 13-1 and 13-1. One of the team stars is running back JT Stinson, son of Neil.
Mira Loma woes
Mira Loma, a storied program from the late 1960s through the early 1980s, is also battling the numbers problem.
Down to 21 roster players and even thinner with injuries after an 0-2 start, Matadors coach Leonard Casillas decided to forfeit Friday’s game at powerhouse Center.
He said the plan is heal, regroup and resume the schedule, starting with a home game Sept. 20 against Galt.
Grant’s road warriors
Grant will play at national power Eastside Catholic of Sammamich, Wa. on Friday.
How on Earth did this game come about? Eastside reached out to Grant and offered to fly up 42 Grant players and coaches to compete. Pacers coach Mike Alberghini and athletic director Carl Reed agreed.
It’s a whale of a challenge, with Grant at 0-2, but it’s a grand opportunity for the Pacers to come together.
Eastside is coming off seasons of 13-1, 11-3, 13-2, 13-0, 11-2, 10-1 and 13-1.
Sheldon quarterback Sean Nixon has passed for 351 yards and five touchdowns, 155 of those yards and three of those scoring strikes going to fellow junior Wonya Williams.
Sheldon is 1-1 and aims for more with one of the section’s top passer-to-receiver hook-ups. And Nixon speaks like a coach’s son.
His father, Chris Nixon, is the Sheldon offensive coordinator and the one-time championship coach at Elk Grove. Young Nixon praises his offensive line, his receivers and his coaches. He hasn’t mentioned Otter Pops just yet, the tasty frozen treats sometimes brought out to practice.
After an 0-10 campaign in 2018, Pleasant Grove is 2-0 behind coach Matt Costa and quarterback Nathan Valencia.
And “paddle” is a thing at PG.
“Coach Costa says, ‘row the boat,’” Valencia said. “Turn the ship 180 degrees.”
It’s turned. Valencia found a paddle at a yard sale and had teammates sign it.
Said defensive lineman James Turrentine, “We’re back. PG’s back.”
Frank Negri is a football lifer, a 200-game winner during his head-coaching career, most of it at Foothill.
He’s now an assistant at Rio Linda, where he got his career start somewhere around the Civil War.
Said Rio Linda coach Jack Garceau, “I have a sick old man on staff. He’s got the flu and he is 85 years old. All of us are telling him to stay home, and this is the response we get: ‘Bring me a practice schedule to the field. I don’t miss practice unless I am in a coffin.”
Picking the preps
Well, let’s see here.
Last week we picked five games and missed on three. We blame the defenses that allowed too many yards and touchdowns.
One mother on social media scolded us for not getting with the picture, and how dare we pick Christian Brothers to beat Pleasant Grove when PG rolled CB 56-12.
We could’ve predicted, “Don’t go! It’ll be a dog! Pet yours instead!”
Bishop Manogue (0-1) at No. 3 Oak Ridge (2-0)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Why go: Powerhouse Miners of Reno have a pedigree that includes 13 state champions, dating back to 1957. Oak Ridge has a QB marvel in Justin Lamson, the program’s next run-pass threat.
We think we know: Oak Ridge 35-21
Cardinal Newman (2-0) at No. 15 Placer (1-1)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Why go: Cardinal Newman is a storied program from the North Coast Section and one-time owner of the state’s longest winning streak of 47 from the 1970s. Placer has played ball since the turn of the century and has a back to behold in Hans Grassman, who gets to break in a new Field Turf.
We think we know: Placer 28-27.
Bella Vista (0-2) at Oakmont (2-0)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Why go: Bella Vista is bent on winning its first game since 2016 and has a proven coach in Justin Reber, who has won championships at previous stops. Oakmont coach Tim Moore is pleading to his troops, “Overlook no one!”
We think we know: Oakmont 38-30.
Franklin (1-1) vs. River Valley (2-0)
When: Friday, 7 p.m., at Cosumnes Oaks
Why go: Franklin has a power run game with a speed element, and the stars on the team are the linemen. River Valley is coming off its best season, and still hungry.
We think we know: Franklin 28-21.
Roseville (1-1) vs. Rio Americano (1-0)
When: Friday, 7 p.m., at Del Campo
Why go: Rio has a QB leader in Mitchell Dixon and a rowdy and fun student-rooting section. Roseville will go for two and the win if given the chance under coach Joe Cattolico.
Vista del Lago (2-0) at Casa Roble (1-1)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Why go: The offense of VDL with QB Aydan Edwards and RB Jaxson Hansen take on the hitting crew from CR, led by LB Mason Brown, averaging 15 stops.
We think we know: Vista del Lago 35-34