The rankings this week are missing a program that has been a staple, a sure thing, a can’t miss since ... forever and a day.
Where are the Grant High School Pacers?
They are on the outside looking in, falling out of The Bee’s Top 20 rankings and into the bubble teams, which the proud Pacers might completely shrug off as testament to a season that has gone sideways.
Grant generally bursts its opponents’ bubbles of optimism as the Pacers for decades struck fear with size, speed and ferocity – sometimes during warm-ups alone.
But Grant is sitting at a beleaguered and uninspired 3-4, having beaten Burbank 34-8, Capital Christian 19-0 and Pleasant Grove 17-3. The losses are to Rocklin (24-14), Franklin (17-9), Elk Grove (40-31) and, on Friday, Monterey Trail (26-14).
Grant is 1-3 in the Delta League, which will advance at least four teams to the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs. The Pacers face Sheldon, Davis and Jesuit in the closing weeks of the regular season and may well need to run the table to extend its ongoing section playoff record streak to 27 consecutive seasons.
The Pacers have battled injuries, mistakes, penalties and inspired teams eager for a chance to beat such a storied program.
Grant has been in The Bee’s rankings every week of every season except one since Mike Alberghini took over as head coach in 1991. That’s 269 weeks of good living. Grant was not ranked by The Bee entering Alberghini’s first game at top-ranked Elk Grove as the Pacers were coming off of a losing season in 1990.
But Grant beat the Herd 13-6, went 10-0 and has been a ranked regular ever since (The Bee ran Top 10 rankings until the start of this decade, when we went with a Top 20 to accommodate the crush of so many new schools across the landscape).
Grant was The Bee’s Team of the Decade for the 1990s and 2000s, punctuated by seven section championships and the section’s first CIF State Bowl winner in 2008. Grant was dominant as recently as 2014, a 14-1 team that lost to eventual 16-0 Folsom in the CIF NorCal Division I title game. The Pacers were formidable in 2015 at 10-2 and went 8-4 in 2016.
Forfeits for Sacramento – No. 4 Sacramento had to forfeit wins over Mitty of San Jose (47-21), Vanden (37-0) and Florin (65-0) for playing a seldom-used player, a regretful paperwork snafu.
As for rankings, we will not slide the Dragons any for these “losses” as they are 6-1 on the field, with the lone legitimate setback to top-ranked Folsom (28-19).
Our rankings will list the Dragons with on-field wins and an asterisk.
Keep in mind that rankings are just that: a ranking of area programs based on success and strength of schedule. These are not standings, based solely on wins and losses.
THE BEE’S TOP 20
With last week’s ranking in parentheses.
1. Folsom (1) 8-0
The Bulldogs will not win this week. OK, it’s a bye week, meaning rest and recovery for any ailments with visions of their ninth consecutive league championship.
2. Oak Ridge (2) 7-0
The Trojans showed championship grit with a goal-line stand, and they showed that it’s hard to hold Marco Baldacchino down, in downing Granite Bay.
3. Inderkum (3) 8-0
The Tigers are eager for some competition, and thought they had it against Woodland before racing past the Wolves. Now here comes ranked River Valley.
4. Sacramento (4) 6-1*
Forfeiting three blowout wins due to a paperwork gaffe on a rarely-used ineligible player stings a program already playing with a stadium-sized chip on its shoulder pads.
5. Granite Bay (5) 5-2
The Grizzlies have lost to Folsom and Oak Ridge, and nothing inspires more than a grumpy group of guys with plenty to play for.
6. Jesuit (8) 5-2
The Marauders have lost four key players to season-ending knee injuries, but their depth is impressive as the next man jumps up and gets things done.
7. Rocklin (9) 5-2
The Thunder bounced back from a tough loss at Oak Ridge with a gritty win at Del Oro. The good teams always bounce back.
8. Sheldon (6) 5-2
The Huskies were undone by Jesuit with a rash of turnovers, though they showed late-game resolve in the 37-29 loss. Next they meet a Grant team desperate for victories.
9. Franklin (7) 6-1
Jalen Lampley can do it all, all over the field. He’s as fast and fun as they come.
10. Antelope (11) 7-0
The Titans showed that the Capital Valley Conference title is still theirs against Cosumnes Oaks, and will have to up it even more at Del Campo with the league crown at stake.
11. Del Campo (12) 7-0
The Cougars are a veteran group: tough in the trenches, prolific on offense, tenacious on defense and hungry for championships.
12. Del Oro (10) 4-4
The Golden Eagles have local losses to Folsom, Granite Bay and Rocklin, all in league play. They badly need wins to secure another playoff berth.
13. Christian Brothers (14) 5-2
Gunnor Faulk is loving his targets: big and bad Spencer Webb, and sleek and fast Tyler Green.
14. Lincoln (15) 6-1
The Zebras rather enjoy frenetic games, rallying to take down Colfax with fireworks and a late defensive stop in a season full of them.
15. Placer (16) 5-1
The Hillmen had to guard against a let down after such a charged win over Colfax and they delivered big, rolling Center.
16. Elk Grove (19) 4-3
The defense stood tall, finally, beating Pleasant Grove 18-0 after getting stretched, torqued and worse in recent weeks.
17. Monterey Trail (-) 4-3
There’s nothing like a spirited win at Grant to rev up a season and here come the Mustangs yet again with Aztlan Lopez leading the charge on both sides of the field.
18. Woodland (17) 5-2
The Orange rolled River Valley and then got rolled by Inderkum. Momentum is what Woodland craves.
19. River Valley (18) 6-1
The Falcons were smarting from a humbling home loss to Woodland and then unleashed on the other Woodland team, pasting Pioneer 42-0.
20. Cordova (-) 5-2
Welcome back, Big Red, the area standard bearer in decades past, and fired up for more under coach Darren Nill.
Bubble teams (alphabetical order): Bear River (6-1), Bradshaw Christian (4-3), Capital Christian (4-3), Center (4-3), Colfax (5-2), Dixon (5-2), El Dorado (5-2), Grant (3-4), Rio Americano (5-2), Rio Linda (4-3), River City (6-2), Vista del Lago (4-3), Whitney (4-3), Yuba City (4-4).
THE BEE’S SAC-JOAQUIN SECTION TOP 20
From 190 schools in the second-largest of California’s 10 sections.
1. Folsom (8-0)
2. Oak Ridge (8-0)
3. Central Catholic-Modesto (6-0)
4. Inderkum (8-0)
5. Sacramento (6-1)*
6. Oakdale (6-1)
7. St. Mary’s-Stockton (5-2)
8. Granite Bay (5-2)
9. Jesuit (5-2)
10. Sheldon (5-2)
11. Franklin (6-1)
12. Vacaville (3-3)
13. Rocklin (5-2)
14. Manteca (5-2)
15. Antelope (7-0)
16. Del Campo (7-0)
17. Downey-Modesto (8-0)
18. Gregori-Modesto (7-0)
19. Del Oro (4-4)
20. Vintage-Napa (5-1)
*Does not include three losses for using seldom-used ineligible player.
This week’s schedule (Oct. 20-21)
All games start between 7-7:30 p.m., unless noted.
No. 12 Del Oro at No. 2 Oak Ridge
No. 19 River Valley at No. 3 Inderkum
No. 4 Sacramento vs. Johnson at Rosemont
No. 5 Granite Bay at Nevada Union
Woodcreek at No. 7 Rocklin
No. 8 Sheldon at Grant
No. 10 Antelope at No. 11 Del Campo
No. 13 Christian Brothers vs. El Camino at Hughes Stadium
Center at No. 14 Lincoln
No. 15 Placer at Foothill
No. 16 Elk Grove at No. 17 Monterey Trail
Rio Linda at No. 18 Woodland
No. 20 Cordova at El Dorado
Byes: No. 1 Folsom
Rio Americano at Vista del Lago
Bella Vista at Cosumnes Oaks
Oakmont at Ponderosa
Capital Christian at Dixon
Mesa Verde at Marysville
Colfax at Bear River
Roseville at Whitney
Florin at Burbank
Laguna Creek at Kennedy
Pioneer at Yuba City
Galt at Union Mine
Delta at Foresthill
Encina at Rio Vista
Highlands at San Juan
Lindhurst at Harker
Bradshaw Christian at Golden Sierra
Rosemont vs. Liberty Ranch at Galt HS
Mira Loma vs. Casa Roble at El Camino HS
Davis vs. Pleasant Grove at Sheldon HS
Valley Christian vs. Western Sierra at Highlands HS
Valley vs. McClatchy at Cosumnes River College
No. 9 Franklin at No. 6 Jesuit, 1 p.m.