Joe Davidson

Expect wild races in Sacramento area high school football leagues

Monterey Trail coach T.J. Ewing
Monterey Trail coach T.J. Ewing Special to The Sacramento Bee

One month into the high school football season, one thing is certain: nothing is for certain.

If Folsom can be toppled, as it was last week by upstart Sacramento 32-27, then every team is on notice. Folsom towered over the region, unbeaten in regular-season games from 2012 to 2015 with four Sac-Joaquin Section championships.

The race is officially on for teams to try to reach what often is the requirement for a playoff berth: at least six wins, including at least two in league play, which begins Friday.

“As we all start league play, we understand the reality of it,” Monterey Trail coach T.J. Ewing said. “The reality is our leagues are really good, really well-coached. We’re in leagues where players train year-round, and coaches prepare, and people are ready for serious football. I don’t know if we’ll ever be at the ridiculous level of Texas high school football, where it’s intense even at the youth level, but we’re pretty high-quality here.”

A peek at the league races:

Capital Athletic League – You know it’s a new era when Mira Loma enters league play with a 2-2 record, as do El Camino, Rio Americano, Casa Roble and Vista del Lago. Earlier this season, Mira Loma snapped a 31-game losing streak.

Vista del Lago and Christian Brothers are the favorites, however, in this Division III league.

If Folsom can be toppled, as it was last week by upstart Sacramento 32-27, then every team is on notice.

Capital Valley Conference – Five CVC teams are ranked by The Sacramento Bee and six may qualify for the playoffs in the eight-team D-II league.

Antelope is the defending champion. The Titans are ranked eighth this season, joined in the Top 20 by No. 12 Whitney, No. 13 Roseville, No. 15 Del Campo and No. 19 Cosumnes Oaks. It’s anyone’s guess who’ll take the title.

Players to watch include Antelope running back Elijah Dotson (523 yards), Antelope quarterback Nick Spagnola (729 yards), Roseville running back Brendan McMinn (nine total touchdowns) and Roseville tight end/defensive end Jimmy Jaggers, who has committed to UCLA.

Delta League – If the Sierra Foothill League was the class of the section in recent seasons, the new top league might be the Delta.

Second-ranked Elk Grove and No. 3 Grant meet next week. No. 7 Jesuit, No. 9 Franklin, No. 10 Monterey Trail and No. 14 Sheldon also are in the mix, meaning six of the eight teams in this D-I league could reach the playoffs. Sheldon’s Chancellor LaChapelle is the league’s leading passer (494 yards), followed by Elk Grove’s Jayden Machado (491). Sheldon’s Graylon Lindsey is the leading rusher (366 yards), and Franklin’s Kaderro Tamondong is the leading tackler (42).

Golden Empire League – Capital Christian seeks its fifth consecutive GEL title. Quarterback Jacob Norville (977 yards) and running back D’Marcus Ross (365 yards, eight total touchdowns) lead the Cougars. Marysville and Dixon are also contenders in this D-V league.

Metropolitan Conference – Coming off its upset over Folsom, fifth-ranked Sacramento is the favorite. Burbank (0-3) is a dark horse. Last season, Kennedy reached the playoffs for the first time since 1990.

The top player in the D-II league is Sacramento running back Tariq Hollandsworth (476 yards).

Pioneer Valley League – Placer and Bear River are a combined 2-5 but still the favorites in this D-IV league over Center (3-1) and Colfax (3-1).

Colfax’s Austin Weir is the PVL’s leading passer (627 yards), and teammate Mason Ahrens leads in rushing yards (409) and total touchdowns (10).

Sierra Delta League – Bradshaw Christian is the overwhelming favorite in this D-VI league. Contenders Rio Vista and Highlands are followed by struggling San Juan (0-3), Encina (1-3) and Golden Sierra (1-3). Highlands’ Darian Houston leads the league in passing yards (393), and the top rushers are Bradshaw Christian’s Gerrett Robbins (577 yards) and Mateo Bromstead (481).

Sierra Foothill League – Top-ranked Del Oro is the favorite in a league that again could produce five playoff teams. The SFL is a D-I league by classification but regularly sends teams to the D-II playoffs, per enrollment.

As we all start league play, we understand the reality of it. The reality is our leagues are really good, really well-coached. We’re in leagues where players train year-round, and coaches prepare, and people are ready for serious football. I don’t know if we’ll ever be at the ridiculous level of Texas high school football, where it’s intense even at the youth level, but we’re pretty high-quality here.

T.J. Ewing, Monterey Trail coach

Last year, Del Oro placed fourth but won the CIF State Division II-AA championship. No. 4 Rocklin, No. 6 Folsom, No. 11 Oak Ridge and No. 17 Granite Bay were playoff teams last season.

Folsom’s Joe Curry is the SFL’s leading passer (1,331 yards), Woodcreek’s Tyler England the top rusher (380 yards), Del Oro’s Mason Hurst the leading receiver (499 yards) and Nevada Union’s Justin Houlihan the top tackler (54).

Sierra Valley Conference – No. 20 El Dorado is the favorite in this D-IV league, though defending champion Liberty Ranch is a factor. Also look for Cordova with quarterback Xavier Johnson (950 yards) and Galt with Zach Orman, the SVC’s leader in rushing (690) and total touchdowns (10).

Tri-County Conference – Inderkum has won seven of the past eight championships and is the favorite again in this D-III league behind quarterback Trajon Cotton, tight end Josh Falo and coach Terry Stark.

Woodland is 3-1, and River City, Yuba City, Rio Linda and Pioneer are 2-2.

Joe Davidson: 916-321-1280, @SacBee_JoeD

FRIDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL

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