High School Sports

Oak Ridge makes a statement, expects No. 2 seed in playoffs after handling Elk Grove

Oak Ridge knocked off Elk Grove last night to stake a claim to a top seed in the coming Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.
Oak Ridge knocked off Elk Grove last night to stake a claim to a top seed in the coming Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.

A non-league game in the high school football regular-season finale in the Sac-Joaquin Section is rare. Add that Oak Ridge and Elk Grove are both in The Bee’s Top 10 and you have a game with playoff implications.

No. 3 Oak Ridge showed it should be a high seed in the section playoff brackets, which come out Sunday, in knocking off host Elk Grove 30-21 Friday.

The Trojans had 461 total yards on offense while also forcing three turnovers on defense. They even made a big play on special teams that allowed Oak Ridge to regain the lead for good.

“Our offense really executed on all aspects tonight,” Oak Ridge coach Eric Cavaliere said. “They came through for us tonight when we needed it.”

Oak Ridge only led 17-7 at the half despite outgaining Elk Grove 336-89. Out of the locker room, Elk Grove scored on a 1-yard touchdown run by Carter Harris and an 88-yarder by Hunter Hall to take a 21-17 lead.

The Trojans responded with an Avant Jacobs 92-yard kickoff return to the house. Jacobs also threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Mujahid Samad on a trick play with 8:50 left in the fourth quarter to seal it.

Oak Ridge standout running back Dylan Warfield finished with 94 yards and had a 4-yard touchdown.

“Avant is one of the best players in the section and he can do it all,” Cavaliere said. “He’s one of the best players Oak Ridge has had in a very long time.”

The Trojans have produced great quarterbacks over the years, including the most recent three — Ian Book, the starter at Notre Dame, Marco Baldacchino, the starter at American River College, and Matt Jenner, who plays at St. Thomas More, a prep school in Connecticut.

Justin Lamson might be the next great one, not only from Oak Ridge but from the entire section. The junior passed for 287 yards and a touchdown Friday, 127 yards to Samad, 77 to Jacobs and another 55 went to Brandon Barthel. Lamson also rushed for 55 yards. Lamson is performing even though it’s his first year as the starting quarterback. As a sophomore on varsity last season, he played safety and linebacker.

“He’s tearing it up this year,” Cavaliere said of Lamson. “He can pass the long ball well but he’s also an amazing runner. In the scrimmage versus Vista del Lago this year, he had over 100 yards rushing in the first half.”

Harris of Elk Grove is also familiar with running the ball. He’s the director of the Herd’s triple-option offense. He had 1,094 rushing yards coming into the game and added 138, including 93 in the second half.

“It is tough,” Cavaliere said of trying to stop Harris. “He’s the one who makes their offense happen. That offense has so many layers and you have to cover all of them.”

For the playoffs, Oak Ridge will compete in Division l, while Elk Grove will be in Division ll. Last week, Elk Grove was eliminated from Delta League title contention with a 23-12 loss to Cosumnes Oaks. If the Herd won the league, they would be in D-l with Oak Ridge.

Oak Ridge’s body of work for the section selection committee includes a 36-33 loss to Folsom, which seeks its eighth section title this decade.

“I expect us to be the two seed,” Cavaliere said. “I think that’s where we fit in terms of our schedule and rankings. That’s where we think we will be.”

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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.