High School Sports

Cosumnes Oaks has come of age, inching closer to Delta League title

Asked to size up his first season as football coach at Cosumnes Oaks High School, Andrew Bettencourt offered this, “It’s been a wild ride.”

And then some.

Bettencourt wanted a challenge this fall, and got one, and Cosumnes Oaks needed a new coach to inject new life, and got their guy.

So here come the Wolf Pack of the Elk Grove Unified School District. They entered the season as an unknown, unranked by The Bee, and muscled their way into the forefront of teams to behold.

First it was an early season win over then No. 2-ranked Monterey Trail. On Friday, it was the signature victory that Bettencourt and company – and the school – have craved.

Overcoming sloppy play early, including three delay-of-game penalties, No. 13 Cosumnes Oaks defeated host No. 7 Elk Grove 23-12 on Friday night in a Delta League contest dripping of championship implications.

The Wolf Pack (7-2 overall, 4-1 in league) can win at least a share of their first Delta title with a home win over Davis in a regular-season finale.

And to beat Elk Grove means something. The Thundering Herd is tradition rich with 35 playoff teams since 1984.

Cosumnes Oaks has been deemed a sleeping giant since opening in 2008. It has fielded good teams under coaches Scooter Gomes and Dave Milgrim, with eight total playoff teams, but there has been little success in the postseason. This current CO edition might just become the best yet.

Cosumnes Oaks coaches embraced when this one was over, and players danced and cheered.

Anthony Grigsby Jr. has been at the forefront of all of it. He struggled in a season-opening loss at Capital Christian, and he’s dazzled in big wins. He started slow in this one, with two interceptions, and then overcame a 12-0 deficit by tossing touchdown strikes of 3 yards to Moses Oladejo and 29 and 35 yards to Branden Jennings to seize control.

There was a safety in the mix there, too, as Hunter Hall of Elk Grove was tackled in the end zone.

Grigsby passed for 221 of his 245 yards in the second half.

Other key players for CO included running back Christian Ridgeway, receiver Ishmael Rehberg and lineman Tristan Weaver.

CO responded after the Capital Christian loss, and it has responded after falling 14-7 to Franklin, which last week was run over by Elk Grove (6-3, 4-2) 60-13.

“The countless sleepless nights and the invasion of gray hair has been subsided by a phenomenal coaching staff, athletic director and administration,” Bettencourt said. “All have given me everything I’ve could ask for in my first year.

“We started slow this season and that was expected with only a few months preparation as a new staff. What it was was a great learning experience. That first loss sprouted growth and motivation. We knew all we had to focus on is us.

“Beating Monterey Tral instilled hope. We rolled out six straight wins. The Franklin loss was hard to swallow, but hat’s off to Franklin. Games like that will seriously damage the foundational pillars to teams, but we pointed out ourselves, coaches pointed at themselves and we agreed to give more. The next morning, we had film and weights at 5:45 in the morning. Every player was there and starving to get back after it.”

He added, “It’s a great privilege to be in the hunt for the Delta League title. We control our own destiny.”

Elk Grove led 5-0 at the half on Ledger Petracek’s 33-yard field goal and a safety, and it was 12-0 seconds into the second half when Carter Harris bolted for a 65-yard touchdown run, moments after he was named Homecoming King.

Cosumnes Oaks settled down from there, and coasted to pole position in the Delta.

Joe Davidson has covered sports for The Sacramento Bee since 1988 and is award-winning authority on high school sports, specializing in going behind the scenes. Davidson was a high school athlete in Oregon, where he participated in football and track.