It’s a nice start, but it serves only as window dressing.
The coaches at Oak Ridge High School in El Dorado Hills are stressing that the 4-0 record means nothing if the Trojans sputter in the Sierra Foothill League, where such lapses are not allowed for title contenders.
Oak Ridge, ranked third by The Bee, has a bye this week, then buckles up for the SFL ride, targeting each opponent as a must-win encounter, all the way to a Week 10 home showdown against No. 1 Folsom in what could decide the league championship.
Unless No. 2 Granite Bay, No. 5 Del Oro and No. 7 Rocklin don’t muscle into the action, as each program expects to. And dark horses Nevada Union and Woodcreek are itching for a shot at upsets.
“Yes, there is a good feel about this team,” Trojans coach Eric Cavaliere said. “They have confidence and believe they can beat anyone in our (Sac-Joaquin) section. At the same time, they know that any lapse in focus will quickly turn into an L in our league.”
Oak Ridge knew it could score in bunches this season with returning Bee All-Metro duel threat quarterback Marco Baldacchino leading the way. The senior has not disappointed. But it is the defense that has set a tone, including Friday in a 24-21 win over Nevada-ranked Reed of Sparks in which Baldacchino passed for 248 yards and a touchdown, and ran for 119 yards and a score.
Austin Jarrard caught a touchdown but was even more menacing on defense, recording five sacks. He and Nate Otto combined to make 28 tackles.
A linebacker, Otto and fellow three-year starting defensive back Justin Poerio “are dominating,” Cavaliere said. Otto dominates his studies, too, with a 4.3 GPA. Otto makes the calls on defense and he is bearing down on the school’s career tackle record. Otto also likes to talk up teammates, saying of Jarrard, “He’s a monster. He’s very versatile, competes day in and day out. He would have had more sacks if I didn’t steal a few from him Friday!”
Said Jarrard, diverting any personal attention, “It was a team effort.”
A for Almond – The jubilant post-game scene Saturday night at Hughes Stadium was further proof that Christian Brothers is a team united. Players handed first-year coach Tyler Almond the game ball to punctuate his first victory, beating McClatchy, after opening with losses to section powers Manteca and Jesuit. Gunnor Faulk had three touchdown passes, two to Tyler Green and one to Spencer Webb.
Almond, a longtime Sacramento State assistant coach, replaced Dan Carmazzi, who insists he has retired after 40 years of coaching but he helps out on game nights with a headset in the press box.
‘Football is over for him’ – San Juan all-purpose player and team co-captain TJ Lomano suffered lingering effects from a Sept. 8 game in Fremont against California School for the Deaf. The senior was hit in the first quarter and was told to sit out for evaluation, though he pleaded with coaches at the half to return as he was able to recount the score, location and game details.
San Juan coach Greg Roeszler wouldn’t budge. The coach said of Lomano, “Friday night he was fine. Saturday morning he was fine at our meeting and breakfast. Sunday morning he went into seizures and was taken to emergency. He had brain bleeding, seizures, unconsciousness. He is fine now and going home from the hospital. Football is over for him.”
Roeszler said he was moved by the support of teammates and community members, how everyone worked as one.
Pick master – Davion Ross of Inderkum has 18 career interceptions, a school record, including three Friday in a 70-20 rout of Moreau Catholic in Hayward.
The senior cornerback returned one 85 yards for a touchdown and also made seven tackles for the No. 4 Tigers, who are 4-0 and seek their 11th league championship in 12 years under coach Terry Stark.
Stat marvels – Kaiden Bennett of Folsom and Adrian Torres of Natomas lead the Sac-Joaquin Section with 15 touchdown passes.
Dominick Norris of Vista del Lago leads the section with 779 rushing yards, and Oscar Sanchez of 4-0 Woodland is second in the area with 607.
Alvin Banks of Cordova leads the section with eight touchdown receptions, all from Johnele Sanders. Banks has 19 catches for 483 yards in the last two games.