Joe Davidson

Elk Grove Unified flavor dots next installment of Bee’s prep football rankings

Sixteen starters return for the Franklin High School Wildcats, a team that lost two league games by a total of five points last season.
Sixteen starters return for the Franklin High School Wildcats, a team that lost two league games by a total of five points last season. Special to The Bee

The Elk Grove region has grown by leaps and bounds, and then some.

There were 4,000 people in the town in 1975. Now there are more than 170,000, the growth reflective in nine high schools dotting the Elk Grove Unified School District.

And the playoff-regular programs each has its unique identity, including: Elk Grove (tradition), Franklin (consistent), Sheldon (sleeping giant), Monterey Trail (gritty), Cosumnes Oaks (upstart) and Pleasant Grove (hungry).

“We’re all a little different, and that’s what makes it fun,” Franklin coach Mike Johnson said.

• Breaking down The Bee’s 16-20: Christian Brothers, Whitney, Del Campo, Placer, Vista del Lago.

This installment of The Bee’s Top 20 rankings includes three of this lot:

The Bee’s Top 20 countdown (Nos. 11-15)

11. Franklin (5-5 in 2016)

Coach: Mike Johnson

League: Delta

Enrollment: 2,673

Division: I

School opened: 2002

Opener: McNair-Stockton, Aug. 25

Pedigree: Nine playoff teams since 2006 under program-founding coach Johnson, including a 12-1 team in 2012.

The skinny: Sixteen starters return from a team that lost two league games by a total of five points. Jalen Lampley is one of most versatile running backs in the Sac-Joaquin Section, flanked by fullback Daniel Ross and receiver Brady Johnson, son of the coach, who coached a bulk of the roster when they were 10-year-olds in the feeder programs.

12. Sheldon (8-4 in 2016)

Coach: Joe Cattolico

League: Delta

Enrollment: 2,322

Division: I

School opened: 1997

Opener: Woodcreek, Aug. 25

Pedigree: Four playoff berths since 2009 and a program-reviving showing last season in Cattolico’s first year.

The skinny: Sheldon won more games last season than it did in the previous three seasons combined, including a late drive to topple powerhoue Grant. The Huskies have four offensive linemen starters back in Koby Barrett, Jade Garrett, Louie Lewis and Jack Middleton to work under position coach Dale Ellingsworth, the program’s founding coach.

13. Sacramento (10-2 in 2016)

Coach: Joe McCray

League: Metropolitan

Enrollment: 986

Division: II

School opened: 1856

Opener: Mitty-San Jose, Aug. 25

Pedigree: Eight consecutive playoff berths and first-time program playoff wins in 2013 for the oldest school in the region.

The skinny: McCray is the program’s third coach since 2014, and he inherits a talented team that returns 15 starters, many of whom played a role in upsetting Folsom, including linebackers Eliah Haag-Larry and Payton Hunter. The Dragons will play home games at Sacramento City College for a taste of the night life after years of day games.

14. Antelope (12-1 in 2016)

Coach: Matt Ray

League: Capital Valley

Enrollment: 1,807

Division: II

School opened: 2008

Opener: Nevada Union, Aug. 25

Pedigree: Back-to-back 12-1 seasons and four league championships – all under Ray – since the school opened in 2008.

The skinny: 10 starters return for a program that has stormed onto the regional scene, punctuated by a stirring playoff win against storied Grant last season. The new quarterback in a long line of good ones is Nathan Lucero, but replacing the 2,223 yards and 25 touchdowns by running back Elijah Dotson, now at Sacramento State, is paramount.

15. Cosumnes Oaks (8-4 in 2016)

Coach: Derick Milgrim

League: Capital Valley

Enrollment: 2,240

Division: I

School opened: 2008

Opener: River Valley, Aug. 25

Pedigree: Six consecutive playoff berths, the first three under founding program coach Ryan Gomes and the last three under coach Milgrim.

The skinny: The Wolfpack have lost just four league games in three years, two of them on two-point conversions at the end. Nine starters return, including receiver/defensive back Kahelf Hailassie, who has committed to Colorado, and linemen Matt Doucette and Josh Young, both 270 pounds and generating recruiting interest as they will block for speedy back Jacob Trach.

Coming Monday: Nos. 6-10

Joe Davidson: 916-321-1280, @SacBee_JoeD, JoeDavidsonMedia on Instragram, sacbeepreps on Facebook.