A peek at The Sacramento Bee's prep football Player of the Year candidates
The high school football regular season comes down to four league championship showdowns Friday night and games that will determine seedings for the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.
Champions will be crowned in the Capital Athletic League, Delta League, Pioneer Valley League and Sierra Foothill League. The section committee will crunch the numbers Saturday, when seedings for six divisions will be made.
No. 2 Folsom (8-1) vs. No. 3 Oak Ridge (8-1)
When: Friday at Folsom, 7:30 p.m.
Outlook: The winner between these rivals expects to be the top seed in the Division I playoffs, with the loser perhaps seeded as high as third based on strength of league and overall schedule. Both teams are riding five-game winning streaks, Folsom losing to No. 1 Sacramento, and Oak Ridge falling to Nevada power Reed of Sparks. Both are led by standout quarterbacks, Joe Curry for Folsom and Marco Baldacchino for Oak Ridge, though this one could come down to the run game. Folsom features Davin Simmons, Brandon Rupchock, Kaiden Bennett and Eric Davis as the Bulldogs average 185.3 rushing yards. Baldacchino and teammate Michael Pittman have combined for 22 rushing touchdowns. The Trojans average 238.9 rushing yards.
No. 4 Elk Grove (8-1) vs. No. 5 Sheldon (7-2)
When: Friday at Sheldon, 7:15 p.m.
Outlook: Both teams will be in the D-I playoffs with a legitimate shot to make a run at the championship with strong running games, capable quarterbacks and big-play defenses. League titles are old hat for the Thundering Herd, who have won 15 since 1990. Sheldon seeks its second in school history and first since 2006. It may come down to defense. For Elk Grove, that means stoppers Jake Bellecci, Dylan Eldred, Marshaun Hunter and Gavin Reinwald. For Sheldon, Alex Cook has led the defensive charge for a unit that shut out Grant in the second half of a 20-14 win, and Graylon Lindsey sealed a 43-32 win at Jesuit with a last-minute 79-yard interception return for a score.
No. 8 Grant (7-2) vs. No. 9 Jesuit (6-3)
When: Saturday at Jesuit, 1 p.m.
Outlook: Grant is in the playoffs for an ongoing section record 26th consecutive time under coach Mike Alberghini, and the Pacers are locked into the D-II field. Jesuit is in, but will it be in D-I or D-II? Jesuit has never been in the D-II field but could wind up there if there are 16 schools with larger enrollments in the D-I field. Jesuit is led by quarterback Calvin Brownholtz and running back Lorenzo Burkes. Grant will counter with the deep-ball-threat combination of Cam Davis to Lawrence Hardy and the speed of running back Tyree Marcelle.
No. 11 Vista del Lago (7-2) vs. No. 12 Christian Brothers (7-2)
When: Friday at Hughes Stadium, 7:30 p.m.
Outlook: For the third consecutive season, the CAL comes down to these two teams. Vista del Lago won the previous two meetings, a point emphasized at practice this week at CBS. Regardless of the outcome, both squads will contend in the D-III playoffs. As talented as these teams’ quarterbacks are – Tyler Vander Waal of CBS and Brent Schaeffer of Vista – the best run defense likely will be decisive. Dominick Norris has rushed for 1,006 yards and 10 touchdowns for Vista, while Jamarri Jackson has scooted for 463 yards and seven scores for CBS. Aarmon Euwing also has seven rushing TDs for the Falcons. Jackson also is a game breaker on kickoff returns and in the secondary.
No. 19 Placer (5-4) vs. Lincoln (5-4)
When: Friday at Lincoln, 7:30 p.m.
Outlook: Placer already has clinched at least a share of its fifth league championship in recent seasons under coach Joey Montoya. A win for Lincoln would secure the Zebras a share of their second title since 2009. Ryan Graham leads Lincoln in rushing with 1,262 yards and 21 touchdowns, and Isaac Adams has passed for 1,080 yards and nine scores. For Placer, Mario Perez has rushed for 961 yards and 14 scores, and Morgan Rein-Robinson has scored 10 of his team’s 33 rushing touchdowns for a team that averages 285.8 yards on the ground.
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 sacbee.com after the games on Friday nights for highlights, scores, photo galleries and more.
Join us every Friday night at 6:30 p.m. to discuss that night’s games before they start and as they are played. sacbee.com
Where’s Joe D?
The Bee’s Joe Davidson will be at Sheldon High School on Friday, when the No. 5 Huskies host No. 4 Elk Grove in a Delta League game.
Bee photographers will be at the No. 4 Elk Grove at No. 5 Sheldon and No. 3 Oak Ridge at No. 2 Folsom games on Friday night. sacbee.com/high-school
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. sacbee.com/newsletters
Calling on coaches
Area high school football coaches are encouraged to report results immediately after games. Call 916-441-4100 or email email@example.com.
This week’s schedule
All games start 7-7:30 p.m.
McClatchy at No. 1 Sacramento (at Rio Linda)
No. 3 Oak Ridge at No. 2 Folsom
No. 4 Elk Grove at No. 5 Sheldon
No. 6 Antelope at No. 14 Whitney
Woodcreek at No. 7 Del Oro
Oakmont at No. 10 Roseville
No. 11 Vista del Lago vs. No. 12 Christian Brothers at Hughes Stadium
No. 13 Cosumnes Oaks at Ponderosa
Rio Linda at No. 15 Inderkum
No. 16 Davis at No. 17 Monterey Trail
No. 18 Capital Christian vs. Mesa Verde at San Juan
No. 19 Placer at Lincoln
Highlands at No. 20 Bradshaw Christian
Bella Vista at Del Campo
Center at Bear River
Colfax at Foothill
Cordova at Rosemont
Delta vs. Valley Christian at Highlands
Dixon at Argonaut
Foresthill at Woodland Christian
Kennedy at Burbank
Liberty Ranch at Galt
Lindhurst at Natomas
Mira Loma at El Camino
Pleasant Grove at Franklin
Rio Americano at Casa Roble
River Valley at River City
Rio Vista at Golden Sierra
Rocklin at Granite Bay
Turlock Christian at Western Sierra
Union Mine at El Dorado
Valley vs. Florin at Cosumnes River College
West Campus at Marysville
Woodland at Pioneer
No. 8 Grant at No. 9 Jesuit, 1 p.m.
Laguna Creek at Johnson, 1 p.m.