The Bee’s Joe Davidson previews five key area games.
No. 13 Rio Linda (7-1) at No. 6 Inderkum (7-1)
▪ When: 7 p.m.
▪ Outlook: Realignment has brought these traditional powers together for a natural rivalry in the Tri-County Conference, which Inderkum has won six times since 2007. Inderkum has a steady quarterback in Jonathan Henry (604 passing yards, six touchdown passes) and a two good running backs in Austin Thurman (929 rushing yards, 11 rushing touchdowns) and Jimmie Johnson (297, six TDs) and a playmaker in Larry Hardy (five touchdown receptions, five interceptions) and linebacker Nu’umotu Falo, who will have to stop Rio Linda running back Marcel Brown (1,219 yards, 20 TDs). Brown is averaging 9.8 yards per carry. Calvin Robinson (779, seven TDs) and quarterback Zak Burden (500 rushing yards, five TDs and 1,094 passing yards, 13 TD passes) also have had big seasons. Hunter Clark and Fila Hingano have combined for 161/2 sacks for Rio Linda.
No. 4 Rocklin (7-1) at No. 7 Granite Bay (6-2)
▪ When: 7:30 p.m.
▪ Outlook: Second place and playoff seeding is at stake between these Sierra Foothill League rivals. Granite Bay leads the all-time series 12-5, with Rocklin winning last season and Granite Bay winning by a total of eight points in 2010 and 2013. Rocklin has been hammered by injuries to quarterback Max O’Rourke, running back Riley Clark and safety Garrett Kauppila – all lost for the season. Backup quarterback Will Floyd has stepped up and has targets in receivers Blake Laurin and Brady Mays, and running back Evyn Holtz. Defensive tackle Chase Hatada and linebacker Dusty Howenstine have had big seasons for the Thunder, and they’ll have to deal with Granite Bay’s fly sweep run by quarterback Justin Yeaton (1,101 passing yards, 12 TD passes) and running backs Ben Smith, Mike Gemulla and Lucas Baiocchi. The Grizzlies are led on defense by USC-bound linebacker Cameron Smith.
Roseville (4-4) at Ponderosa (5-3)
▪ When: 7:30 p.m.
▪ Outlook: Cosumnes Oaks is in the driver’s seat to win the Capital Valley Conference, but plenty is on the line here for programs that need six victories and/or a second or third-place finish to ensure a playoff berth. Roseville started slow and has rolled since, and Ponderosa started fast and has split its past two games. Roseville has won three consecutive games as quarterback Michael Dobler tossed five touchdown passes total in wins over Bella Vista 41-14 and Whitney 58-24. Bryce Crouch has rushed for 585 yards and eight TDs for the Tigers, who moved back into the CVC after years in the Sierra Foothill League. Ponderosa’s offense is led by quarterback Colby Chiverton (1,781 passing yards, 16 TD passes) and receiver Josh Bist (59 catches, 983 yards, nine TDs).
McClatchy (3-5) vs. Laguna Creek (3-5)
▪ When: 7:15, p.m. at Cosumnes River College
▪ Outlook: Never mind the overall records. What matters are the league records with McClatchy and Laguna Creek posting 3-2 marks and needing to finish in third place behind Sacramento and Burbank to better ensure a playoff berth. Nicholas Henderson has passed for two touchdowns in each of the past two games for Laguna Creek, which beat Florin 44-6 and Kennedy 17-8. Jaqwaun Brown-Collins has rushed for 528 yards this season for the Cardinals, who seek their first playoff berth since 2008. McClatchy, which hasn’t been in the playoffs since 1996, is led by Michael Cook (989 passing yards, six TD passes) and running back Brad Kennedy (341 rushing yards).
Rosemont (4-4) vs. Liberty Ranch (4-4)
▪ When: 7:15 p.m. at Galt
▪ Outlook: Realignment made for a very balanced Sierra Valley Conference, including these teams, which trail unbeaten El Dorado in the standings. Rosemont and Liberty Ranch need closing wins to enhance playoff hopes. Rosemont battled but lost to No. 12 Christian Brothers 35-21, beat Union Mine 43-33, lost to El Dorado 60-43 and beat Galt 58-21 in a wild four-week stretch. Quarterback Buddy Enriquez passed for 535 yards and seven touchdowns against Union Mine and El Dorado. Eddie Ortiz has rushed for 526 yards and eight scores this season. Liberty Ranch quarterback Tyler Regadanz passed for 288 yards and two touchdowns in a 35-32 loss to Union Mine last week, and he has rushed for 781 yards this season. Vincent Trejo (484) and Garrison Halsey (579) make for a formidable Liberty Ranch backfield.