Joe Davidson

Prep preview: With playoffs nearing, teams face key games

Running back Tariq Hollandsworth, carrying the ball against Burbank last November , and Sacramento High will visit the No. 19 Titans on Saturday at 1 p.m.
Running back Tariq Hollandsworth, carrying the ball against Burbank last November , and Sacramento High will visit the No. 19 Titans on Saturday at 1 p.m. Sacramento Bee file

The playoffs are closing in fast.

Week 9 of the high school football season offers a fresh challenge for top-ranked Sacramento: a competitive game. The Metropolitan Conference title will be decided when the Dragons face rival Burbank on Saturday. Jesuit and Monterey Trail meet in Carmichael on Saturday to sort out the pecking order in the Delta League. The Sierra Foothill League race appears headed for a regular-season-ending showdown between Folsom and Oak Ridge, though both face stiff tests Friday night.

No. 1 Sacramento (7-1) vs. No. 19 Burbank (5-3)

When: Saturday at Burbank, 1 p.m.

Outlook: The Dragons are eager for some competition after plowing through Laguna Creek 69-10, Valley 74-0 and Johnson 65-0. They will be tested against a fast, run-heavy team from Burbank, which has won five consecutive games after opening with losses to powerhouse programs Clovis, Grant and Oak Ridge. The Dragons are led by quarterback Derek Shelton, running back Tariq Hollandsworth and wide receiver DaVon Owens. Burbank runs the triple-option well with running back Taniela Fisilau, and the Titans have a top defensive end in University of Miami-bound DJ Johnson.

No. 2 Folsom (7-1) vs. No. 20 Rocklin (4-4)

When: Friday at Rocklin, 7:30 p.m.

Outlook: Folsom is gearing up for a Week 10 showdown against No. 3 Oak Ridge with the SFL championship on the line, though the Bulldogs also are extremely mindful of the trap game against Rocklin. The Thunder desperately needs to finish the regular season strongly to ensure a playoff berth after reaching the Division II section final last season. Folsom is led by quarterback Joe Curry (2,260 passing yards, 30 touchdowns) and running backs Davin Simmons (595 yards, five TDs), Brandon Rupchock (270 yards, four TDs) and Kaiden Bennett (255 yards, six TDs). Rocklin started the season 4-1 – losing the opener 21-20 at Grant in the final moments – but the Thunder have lost their last three games to Oak Ridge 27-15, Del Oro 26-14 and Woodcreek 24-14. Closing out with two wins would clinch a playoff spot; splitting might not be enough.

No. 8 Grant (6-2) vs. No. 13 Davis (4-4)

When: Friday at Grant, 7:15 p.m.

Outlook: Davis, seeking just its third playoff appearance in 17 seasons and its first winning record since 2007, has been the upstart team of the year. Davis’ overall record isn’t what’s impressive. The Blue Devils’ victories have come in Delta League play against Elk Grove 16-14, Sheldon 24-21, Franklin 26-21 and Pleasant Grove 38-21. Grant’s losses came in close games at Elk Grove 24-17 and Sheldon 20-14. Quarterback John Lagattuta has been steady for the Blue Devils, passing for 990 yards and seven touchdowns and rushing for five. Ethan Iacono has stepped in nicely for injured running back Ish Perez, and Stanford-bound tight end Tucker Fisk is one of the best players in program history. Grant has already secured its ongoing section record 26th consecutive playoff berth, but finishing strongly with quarterback Cam Davis (1,031 passing yards, nine TDs) and running back Tyree Marcelle (1,180 yards, 13 TDs) is the goal.

No. 9 Jesuit (5-3) vs. No. 12 Monterey Trail (5-3)

When: Saturday at Jesuit, 1 p.m.

Outlook: Jesuit plays on a nice field on campus that is in its second season, but the team’s most painful defeats this season have come at home against Elk Grove, 23-6, and Sheldon, 43-32. Jesuit closes the Delta schedule with home games against run-happy Monterey Trail and Grant, with the Marauders need-ing at least a split to ensure another playoff trip. Jesuit is led by quarterback Calvin Brownholtz, running back Lorenzo Burkes and wide receiver Jonathon Amadi. Monterey Trail also needs at least a split of its final two games to secure a playoff berth. The Mustangs have lost to Sheldon 27-22, Grant 29-23 and Elk Grove 21-14 despite strong outings by the defense and quarterback Robert Holt.

No. 14 Vista del Lago (6-2) vs. El Camino (5-3)

When: Friday at Folsom, 7:30 p.m.

Outlook: Vista del Lago coach Mike Struebing and the Eagles seek their fourth consecutive postseason berth and third consecutive Sierra Valley Conference championship, with a Week 10 showdown against Christian Brothers looming. Brent Schaeffer has had a stellar senior season for Vista, passing for 2,344 yards and 31 touchdowns with just two interceptions and rushing for seven scores. Dominick Norris has rushed for 856 yards and 10 touchdowns for Vista, which has lost to Oak Ridge and Monterey Trail. El Camino, needing at least a split in the final two regular-season games to qualify for its third playoff spot since 2012, has three playmakers in running backs Dale Armstrong (850 yards, 13 touchdowns) and William Horne (645 yards, 12 TDs) and defensive end Jahari Kirkendoll (11 1/2  sacks).

Friday night football

The Bee’s print edition will feature expanded coverage every Sunday, including insight from Joe Davidson, highlights of the top weekend games, how The Bee’s Top 20 fared, scores and more. Can’t wait until Sunday? Go to after the games on Friday nights for highlights, scores, photo galleries and more.

Live chat

Join us every Friday night at 6:30 p.m. to discuss that night’s games before they start and as they are played.

Where’s Joe D?

The Bee’s Joe Davidson will be in Del Paso Heights on Friday when No. 13 Davis visits No. 8 Grant in a Delta League game.

Photo galleries

Bee photographers will be at the Grant-Davis and Vista del Lago-El Camino (played at Folsom High School) games on Friday night.

Sports Night newsletter

Sign up for The Bee’s nightly email with the latest results, plus links to game stories, photo galleries, scores and more.

Calling on coaches

Area high school football coaches are encouraged to report results immediately after games. Call 916-441-4100 or email

Friday’s games

All kickoff between 7-7:30 p.m., unless noted

Top 20

No. 2 Folsom at No. 20 Rocklin

Nevada Union at No. 3 Oak Ridge

Franklin at No. 4 Elk Grove

Pleasant Grove at No. 5 Sheldon

Bella Vista at No. 6 Antelope

No. 13 Davis at No. 8 Grant

No. 10 Roseville at Ponderosa

No. 11 Whitney at Cosumnes Oaks

No. 14 Vista del Lago vs. El Camino at Folsom

No. 15 Inderkum at Moreau Catholic-Hayward

Casa Roble vs. No. 16 Christian Brothers at Hughes Stadium

Natomas at No. 17 Capital Christian

Granite Bay at No. 18 Woodcreek

Byes: No. 7 Del Oro

Other games

Bear River at Placer

Center at Colfax

Cordova vs. Liberty Ranch at Galt

Del Campo at Oakmont

Encina at Vacaville Christian

Galt at El Dorado

Highlands at Golden Sierra

Kennedy vs. Florin at Monterey Trail

Lincoln at Foothill

McClatchy vs. Laguna Creek at Cosumnes River College

Lindhurst at Dixon

Pioneer at Rio Linda

Rio Americano vs. Mira Loma at El Camino

River City vs. Woodland at Pioneer

Rosemont at Union Mine

San Juan at Rio Vista

Western Sierra at Foresthill

Yuba City at River Valley


No. 1 Sacramento at No. 19 Burbank, 1 p.m.

No. 12 Monterey Trail at No. 9 Jesuit, 1 p.m.

Mesa Verde vs. West Campus at Burbank, 7:15 p.m.

Valley at Johnson, 1 p.m.