Terry Stark has experienced a lot of football, including 45 years as a high school player and coach.
Games in searing heat or wind and rain. Bad bounces and fortunate ones, great victories and crushing defeats. Saturday afternoon’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoff game offered new ground for Stark, the longtime Inderkum coach who still cannot fully comprehend this sport.
Great group of kids. They just work their butts off. No one missed a practice all season. Everyone wanted to get better. We started the season so slow. There wasn’t a lot of confidence. We had five really good players and a lot of other guys who didn’t know what they were doing. Now they do.
Terry Stark, Inderkum football coach
The Tigers led 26-0 in the first quarter and 33-6 in the second quarter, then had a late score that fit the game’s bizarre nature as they held off top-seeded Sacramento 35-33 in the mud and muck in Oak Park.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Sacramento Bee
With its ninth consecutive win, eighth-seeded Inderkum (10-2) advances to a semifinal at No. 4 Jesuit (9-3) next Saturday afternoon. Stark, who has a reputation as one of the section’s top leaders, gathered his giddy players at midfield, the rain and mud suddenly not an issue. He applauded their effort, then high-fived and hugged scores of well-wishers.
All this from a Tigers team that absorbed routs early in starting 1-2 as the offensive line was trying to find its way.
“Crazy game, and to win it with defense ... wow,” said Stark, his eyes moist with emotion. “Great group of kids. They just work their butts off. No one missed a practice all season. Everyone wanted to get better. We started the season so slow. There wasn’t a lot of confidence. We had five really good players and a lot of other guys who didn’t know what they were doing. Now they do.”
Inderkum scored once in the second half, on a safety with 6:34 to play when Sacramento (10-2) recovered its bad punt snap in the end zone. The Tigers’ Isaah Crocker made an interception at midfield with 2:15 left, and Inderkum ran out the clock.
Trajon Cotton had touchdown passes of 31 yards to Josh Falo and 39 yards to Crocker to open the scoring. Destynd Garrett made it 20-0 with a 23-yard touchdown run, and Ryan Jones returned an interception 24 yards off a tipped pass for a 26-0 lead.
Sacramento rallied behind Davon Owens’ 75-yard kickoff return and 3-yard run for scores and Anthony Bradley’s 102-yard interception return on the last play of the half, pulling the Dragons, top-ranked by The Sacramento Bee for the first time since 1968, within 33-26.
Jesuit 42, Central Catholic-Modesto 14 at Jesuit – Jonathon Amadi returned an interception 80 yards for a touchdown and a kickoff 94 yards for a score, and Jesuit’s defense allowed just one offensive touchdown as the Marauders raced past the four-time defending CIF State champions spanning different divisions.
Isaiah Rutherford scored on runs of 6, 21 and 38 yards for Jesuit, which has not allowed a sack in six successive games.
Joe Davidson: 916-321-1280, @SacBee_JoeD