Casey Taylor didn’t want his athletes to sleep in, and teenagers tend to do that quite a bit on weekends.
So the Del Oro High School football coach ordered up a meeting at the campus gym on Saturday morning for a hearty breakfast feed, topped by some inspirational chatter and a heaping helping of big-picture reflection.
The discussion was heavy on tradition, what it means to be a Golden Eagle, what it means to the town of Loomis. Hours later, the game took place, and it was more routine black and gold smash-mouth application to keep tradition alive and well.
In what had been billed as the most significant prep football game in the history of Placer County, Del Oro steamed past storied Bakersfield 57-16 behind offensive cornerstones Camrion Davis, Dalton Gee, Mason Hurst and Stone Smartt to win the Northern California Division I-A Regional Championship at Golden Eagle Stadium.
“We talked about what this group has brought to Del Oro and how good it’s been,” Taylor said. “No one wants it to end.”
The end is near, but it’s a blissful view.
The finish line is next Saturday at Sacramento State, the destination goal for Del Oro since it capped the 2015 season at Hornet Stadium.
The Golden Eagles won the CIF State Division 2-AA title, beating a 15-0 Camarillo team, returned 17 starters and now set aim on the D-IA championship against San Clemente, which beat Edison-Huntington Beach 39-35 Saturday. That matchup is set for 4 p.m. Saturday at Sacramento State’s Hornet Field.
Del Oro (13-2) has won 11 consecutive playoff games over two seasons, a regional record.
The state bid is the fourth this decade for Del Oro, which also has five Sac-Joaquin Section championships and three NorCal Regional banners to its credit in that span.
Gee rushed for 156 yards and two touchdowns against Bakersfiled, opening the second half with a 63-yard scoring burst to make it 36-3.
The senior running back opened the scoring with a 9-yard run and also scooted 36 yards into the end zone on a screen pass from Smartt, who passed for 183 yards and four touchdowns.
Smartt made it 15-0 with a 49-yard touchdown strike in stride to Hurst, and he hit Hurst for another 49-yard strike to make it 43-9 in the third quarter. Hurst, the team’s most versatile and dynamic player, scored on a 2-point conversion run and 2-point conversion pass in the first half when it was still a game. Hurst also recovered a Bakersfield fumbled punt, setting up Davis’ 2-yard score with 12.5 seconds left in the half for a 29-3 lead. Davis scored on a 48-yard kickoff return to make it 50-16. He rushed for 89 yards.
All of this against a Drillers program synonymous with success.
Bakersfield (11-3) entered the game with a state-record 37 section championships to its resume, and the program has won more games (774) than any prep program in state history.
One of those victories came against Del Oro in the CIF State Division II Bowl in Carson in 2013. Like that team, Bakersfield featured a fleet of speedy skill players. Del Oro held its own against the run, as it has the entire playoffs. The Golden Eagles stymied run-dominant Antelope and Inderkum in the section playoffs and didn’t let the Drillers break many big gains.