Come hail or high water, the clash between The Bee’s top-ranked high school football teams will play out as scheduled Friday night at Sacramento State.
Amid fan concerns that the pounding storm expected to roar through the region late Wednesday and throughout Thursday, California Interscholastic Federation executives in Sacramento insisted the Northern California Division I Regional championship game between Grant and Folsom will not be postponed. What’s more, the coaches want to play Friday, regardless of conditions, as forecasts show the rain and wind should let up by the 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
Still, fear of stormy conditions could keep fans away from Sacramento State’s Hornet Field, where some 20,000 fans could be expected. A smaller gate also would hurt the CIF at the ticket booth.
No matter, says the CIF.
“Weather is not a deciding factor, unless it’s really serious with flash flooding and lightning and safety becomes an issue, and we’re not expecting that,” said Ron Nocetti, associate executive director of the CIF, the governing body of the state’s high school athletics. “Everyone hopes for good weather, but we won’t get in the business of moving games around to maximize revenue possibilities. The schools in these games are on a routine, and they’re expecting these games to play on schedule.”
Nocetti said the NorCal Regional game schedules have been set for the three years they have been in play: Division I and IV play on Friday and Divisions II and III on Saturday. That aligns with the Southern California Regional finals. And it lines up with the CIF State Bowl games in Carson, where D-I and IV teams play on Dec. 19 and the other divisions go on Dec. 20.
Capital Christian’s NorCal D-IV title game at Central Catholic of Modesto is also on schedule for Friday, though the natural grass field may become swampy.
Also, all coaches from North and South schools expect to have the same amount of days to prepare as their opponents, Nocetti said, all the more reason to stick with the schedule.
It would be natural to suggest pass-heavy Folsom would be at a disadvantage in stormy conditions, which would make passing difficult with a wet ball and gusts of wind. That hasn’t been the case in the past, however.
“We actually love to play in the rain, because we don’t change what we do, and we’ve had some of our greatest moments in terrible weather and conditions,” Folsom co-coach Kris Richardson said.
In 2010, Folsom played Vacaville in a Sac-Joaquin Section D-II playoff game in howling wind and sheets of rain. Folsom scored a national prep record 75 first-half points en route to a 75-6 victory. Folsom capped that season in the mud, muck and rain at the Home Depot Center, and beat Serra of Gardena 48-20 for the CIF State D-II championship.
Grant coach Mike Alberghini said weather doesn’t bother his team, either. The Pacers will runand pass regardless of conditions, Alberghini said, much like his team did in the first half during a torrential downpour last Friday. On Sac State’s field turf, Grant beat St. Mary’s of Stockton 21-14 to win the section D-II championship.
The players also want to play Friday, rain or not.
“Oh yeah, we don’t care if it rains or not because we can still play well,” Grant quarterback Donovan Brown said.
Said Folsom defensive end Sam Whitney: “We welcome any conditions, any challenge. Rain won’t slow us down. I’m sure it won’t bother Grant, either.”
Et cetera – Tickets for the NorCal D-I game can be purchased on the campus of the competing schools: Wednesday and Thursday at Grant during school hours, and Wednesday and Thursday from 3 to 4 p.m. at Folsom, and Wednesday night from 6 to 7 p.m., at the stadium ticket booth. Tickets also can be purchased at the Sac State ticket office Friday starting at 5 p.m. There are no online ticket sales. Tickets range from $8 to $12.
▪ The Folsom-Grant game will be televised on ComcastSportsNet California, and The Bee will offer continuous Twitter updates via @SacBee_JoeD.
▪ Capital Christian will sell tickets on campus through Thursday, and tickets can be purchased Friday at Central Catholic High School’s stadium ticket booth in Modesto.
Follow Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD.