High School Sports

Capital Christian doubles up on Vista del Lago as Cougars coaches employ rare ‘program coaching’ model

Eleven weeks in, and Casey Taylor still booms of good cheer.

The football season doesn’t wear down the Capital Christian High School coach as much as it inspires him, even when pulling double-duty.

Taylor and his staff pull the unconventional task of coaching the junior varsity and varsity programs on the same night in an effort to accelerate the learning curve with daily hands-on mentorship.

Hours after the JV team capped a 10-0 season with a win over Vista del Lago, the varsity charges engaged in their own celebratory dance. Behind playmakers and stout defense, No. 4 Capital Christian downed the No. 14 Eagles of Folsom 21-7 on Friday night in Rosemont to clinch the Capital Athletic League.

The Cougars (8-2 overall, 6-0 in the CAL) will bound into the Sac-Joaquin Section Divsion III playoffs as the likely top seed. They are the defending champions, graduated a ton of players and ushered in a host of new stars. On the other sideline, Taylor was doused with a bucket of water afterward.

Austin Amador hit Max Rodarte for an 8-yard touchdown to open Capital’s scoring, a great moment for two senior anchors on Senior Night.

Isaiah Bass returned a punt 80 yards for a score to make it 14-7, Zeke Burnett had a 2-yard scoring plunge and the defense under coordinator Mike Kravich held prolific Vista (8-2, 5-1), twice on downs inside the 25 and came up with three interceptions in holding the Eagles to a season-low point total.

Capital extended its league winning streak, spanning different conferences, to 45. The Cougars won their eighth consecutive league championship and third in succession under Taylor, whose JV/varsity combo coaching method worked wonders at Del Oro, leading to league, section, NorCal and championship success.

“I know some think it takes too much time to do both programs, but we do it and it works,” Taylor said, pointing out the good work by assistants such as Aaron Garcia. “Why be in the business of coaching kids if you don’t want to coach them? It’s program coaching.

“On Mondays and Tuesdays, we focus on skills, drills, fundamentals. So when the JV guys are called up, they know the coaches, what we’re doing, what to expect.”

There’s more. There are weekly academic meetings to monitor progress. There are team dinners to bond and rib each other. It’s added up to a rising power with visions of NorCal and CIF State championship goals.

Rodarte is a do-all player who binds the team together. He catches the ball, takes handoffs, plays defense and special teams.

“He’s a quiet leader, a great player,” Taylor said.

Capital Christian knew it had to contain the area’s leading rusher to win this one. Ethan Menezes came in with 1,484 yards and 16 touchdown. He ran with power and purpose Friday and had 132 yards but was kept out of the end zone.

Vista scored on a Nic Goodwin 22-yard strike to Erik Johnson to tie it at 7-7.

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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.
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