It’s been 11 years since Hughes Stadium hosted a high school football playoff game between local teams.
Rivals Grant and Nevada Union slugged it out at Sacramento City College in 2005 in the City Championship, marking the end of an era. What was left of the stadium’s grass and sod was churned into a muddy mess by cleats after the field was softened by heavy rain during the Miners’ 30-0 win.
The City Championship, a regional fixture for decades, is now known as a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I semifinal, played at home sites since 2006. But Hughes Stadium is back in the forefront. The venerable venue will be the site of a Division III playoff game Friday night when third-seeded Christian Brothers hosts 14th-seeded Cordova in a contest heavy on historical significance.
In the 1980s, Christian Brothers and Cordova were among the area’s biggest football rivals as Metro League opponents often battling for league and City Championship honors. The programs endured challenging seasons in the 1990s and 2000s, including 1-9 campaigns, but lately have been on the upswing.
Christian Brothers beat two-time defending Capital Athletic League champion Vista del Lago 74-32 on Friday at Hughes Stadium after trailing 32-19 in the first quarter. Christian Brothers’ Tyler Vander Waal passed for a school-record 490 yards and four touchdowns, two to Matt Marengo, who finished with 233 receiving yards. Carlos Strahl rushed for 139 yards and three scores for the Falcons, who won their first league championship since 2008.
Cordova routed Rosemont 59-0 for a share of the Sierra Valley Conference title, the Lancers’ first since they took the Metro in 1991 under coach Max Miller, who also guided Cordova to its last postseason in 2006. Coached by Darren Nill, the Lancers are led by Deante McCullough, who has rushed for 1,339 yards and 16 touchdowns, and sophomore Xavier Johnson, who has passed for 1,862 yards and 19 touchdowns and run for 551 yards and six scores.
Mr. Marauder – Jesuit senior Calvin Brownholtz passed for 312 yards and three touchdowns in a 27-24 victory over Grant that locked up the No. 4 seed for the Marauders in the D-II field and a Saturday home game against Tracy. In 2014, the Bulldogs won a playoff game at Jesuit and reached the D-I final for the first time since 1987.
Thursday openers – Because of Veterans Day on Friday, when schools are closed, the section left it up to the host teams to schedule their playoff games for Thursday or Friday nights. Most teams chose Thursday.
Milestone maker – Del Campo junior running back Greg Cabral entered Friday’s game against Bella Vista with 1,856 rushing yards. After rushing for 145 yards to help his team to a 49-0 lead, Cabral was pulled by coaches Mike Dimino and Steve Kenyon in the third quarter, giving him 2,001 yards. That’s the second-most rushing yards in school history behind Ryan Dimino’s 2,702 in 2009. The Cougars won 69-0.
Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs
All games Thursday at 7 p.m. unless noted:
No. 16 Kennedy at No. 1 Folsom, Friday, 7 p.m.
No. 9 Sheldon at No. 8 Napa, Friday, 7 p.m.
No. 12 Lincoln-Stockton at No. 5 Turlock
No. 13 Gregori-Modesto at No. 4 Elk Grove
No. 14 River City at No. 3 Oak Ridge
No. 11 Cosumnes Oaks at No. 6 Davis, Friday, 7 p.m.
No. 10 Monterey Trail vs. No. 7 Pitman at Turlock, Friday, 7 p.m.
No. 15 Modesto at No. 2 St. Mary’s-Stockton
No. 16 Stagg at No. 1 Sacramento
No. 9 Whitney at No. 8 Inderkum
No. 12 Downey-Modesto at No. 5 Central Catholic-Modesto
No. 13 Tracy at No. 4 Jesuit, Saturday, noon
No. 14 Central Valley at No. 3 Antelope
No. 11 Granite Bay at No. 6 Grant, Friday, 7 p.m.
No. 10 Vacaville at No. 7 Roseville, Friday, 7 p.m.
No. 15 Laguna Creek at No. 2 Del Oro
No. 16 McNair-Stockton at No. 1 Oakdale
No. 9 Vanden at No. 8 Vista del Lago
No. 12 Beyer-Modesto vs. No. 5 Merced at Golden Valley-Merced
No. 13 East Union-Manteca at No. 4 Del Campo
No. 14 Cordova vs. No. 3 Christian Brothers at Hughes Stadium, Friday, 7 p.m.
No. 11 Burbank vs. No. 6 Benicia at Vallejo
No. 10 Lincoln at No. 7 Yuba City
No. 15 El Camino at No. 2 American Canyon
No. 8 Dixon at No. 1 Manteca
No. 5 El Dorado at No. 4 Los Banos, Friday, 7 p.m.
No. 6 Center at No. 3 Sierra-Manteca
No. 7 Liberty Ranch at No. 2 Placer, Friday, 7 p.m.
No. 8 Modesto Christian at No. 1 Sonora
No. 5 Ripon at No. 4 Capital Christian, Friday, 7 p.m.
No. 6 Marysville at No. 3 Calaveras, Friday, 7 p.m.
No. 7 Colfax at No. 2 Hilmar
No. 8 Denair at No. 1 Amador, Friday, 7 p.m.
No. 5 Bret Harte at No. 4 Orestimba-Newman
No. 6 Rio Vista at No. 3 Argonaut
No. 7 Delhi at No. 2 Bradshaw Christian
No. 2 Delta at No. 1 Stone Ridge Christian-Merced
No. 2 Brookside Christian at No. 1 Woodland Christian