Week Six of the high school football season will feature several showdown games as league play reaches the third week.
In the Sierra Foothill League, No. 7 Del Oro visits rival No. 3 Rocklin and No. 10 Granite Bay plays at No. 8 Oak Ridge.
In the Delta League, No. 6 Monterey Trail hosts No. 11 Franklin in an effort to keep pace with No. 2 Grant, which hosts Pleasant Grove. Also, No. 4 Elk Grove and No. 5 Jesuit travel to Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara to meet in the second game of a doubleheader.
Del Oro is 10-3 against Rocklin since 2004, including beating the Thunder for the 2005 Sac-Joaquin Section Division II championship, and SFL wins in 2011 and 2013 that led to state bowl seasons. Rocklin beat Del Oro twice in 2009, in SFL play and in the section Division II championship en route to a bowl game.
Rocklin is 5-0 for the first time since it went 14-1 in 2009. Friday, quarterback Max O’Rourke passed for five touchdowns and ran for another in the Thunder’s 59-21 victory over Oak Ridge.
“He’s been great,” Rocklin coach Greg Benzel said of O’Rourke. “He’s very smart. He’ll be running a company some day.”
Del Oro’s 2-4 record is misleading, with losses to powerhouse programs Kamehameha of Hawaii, Helix of La Mesa, De La Salle of Concord and top-ranked Folsom.
Granite Bay (3-2) and Oak Ridge (3-2) are meeting for the first time as SFL members after realignment. Granite Bay beat Oak Ridge for the 2012 section Division I championship 35-23, en route to a CIF State Division II title, and Oak Ridge beat Granite Bay 28-17 in the playoffs last season.
In the Delta League, Monterey Trail (5-0) is off to its best start, highlighted by wins over No. 17 Antelope (27-20) and No. 9 Inderkum (29-27). But the Mustangs will play Franklin (3-2), Grant (5-0), Elk Grove (4-1) and Jesuit (4-1) in consecutive weeks.
“It’s a good start, but we really haven’t done anything yet,” Monterey Trail coach T.J. Ewing said. “We’ll have to keep getting better.”
Franklin lost its league opener at Grant 43-14but bounced back to rout Sheldon 56-3 last week.
Elk Grove and Jesuit are both in the Delta for the first time since the 1980s. Elk Grove is coming off a 26-19 loss to Grant, despite sophomore quarterback Tyler Vander Waal passing for 267 yards and two touchdowns. Jesuit, which has bounced back from a season-opening 63-0 loss to De La Salle, is led by running back Beau Bisharat, quarterback Cole Brownholtz and receiver Isaiah Bailey. The Mauraders’ regular-season schedule concludes with Sheldon, Franklin, Monterey Trail and Grant, the last two at home.
Balance of power – Folsom, known for an offense led by state record-setting quarterback Jake Browning, has been strong running the ball and on defense, too. In a 42-7 victory over Del Oro, the Bulldogs (6-0) allowed just 62 rushing yards (2.2 per carry) and 139passing yards. Bailey Laolagi returned an interception for a touchdown. The defense has been led by Tyler Crandall, Sam Whitney, Sam Whittingham, Jarod Nooner and Lukas Hendricks. Whitney and Nooner also are offensive linemen who helped Folsom rush for 284 yards on 43 carries, with Bryan Weldy going for 102 yards and Tre Green 92.
Idle Hillmen – Placer will have 20 days between games after a bye last week and a forfeit this week against Center, which doesn’t have enough players to field a team after a bench-clearing brawl against Encinal in Alameda on Sept. 27 led to mass ejections.
Per CIF rules, ejected players have to sit out the following game. Center athletic director John Gallagher expressed disappointment for his program and for Placer not having a home game, including a loss of gate receipts. In recent seasons, the Center-Placer series in Pioneer Valley League play has featured competitive games. Center beat Placer last season in a PVL game and in the playoffs.
“What a bummer deal, but we have to get ready for the next game,” Placer coach Joey Montoya said.
Up and downs – The most stunning score in the state over the weekend was Long Beach Poly beating Compton 99-9 after trailing 6-0. Poly used all 75 players on its roster, and even Compton coaches insisted the Jackrabbits did not try to run up the score. Compton’s nine points were the most scored by a league opponent against Poly this season.
In this region, Union Mine scored 51 points in the first quarter in a 58-0 victory over Mira Loma to improve to 4-1. Mira Loma (0-5), once a powerhouse program, has scored 16 points and been shut out three times after going 0-10 last season.
On the flip side, Natomas is proof teams can turn things around quickly. The Nighthawks entered this season with a 32-game losing streak but are 4-1.
THE BEE’S TOP 20
Last week’s ranking in parentheses
1. Folsom (1) 6-0
2. Grant (3) 5-0
3. Rocklin (4) 5-0
4. Elk Grove (2) 4-1
5. Jesuit (7) 4-1
6. Monterey Trail (8) 5-0
7. Del Oro (6) 2-4
8. Oak Ridge (5) 4-2
9. Inderkum (9) 5-1
10. Granite Bay (10) 3-2
11. Franklin (11) 3-2
12. Sacramento (12) 4-1
13. Woodcreek (13) 5-1
14. Christian Brothers (14) 4-1
15. Rio Linda (15) 5-1
16. El Dorado (16) 5-0
17. Antelope (17) 4-1
18. Del Campo (18) 4-1
19. Bear River (19) 4-1
20. River Valley (20) 4-2