This time of year becomes something of a coach’s admiration society.
The compliments pour out as the Sac-Joaquin Section football playoffs move into the second round, where games across the brackets and across the regions figure to collectively get a lot tighter.
Take Mike Dimino, the Del Campo coach when asked to size up the Sacramento Dragons.
“They’re awesome,” he said of his Division II opponent for Friday. “Great defense. Their athletes are as good as we’ve seen.”
Del Campo has played awesome defense of its own at times this season, led by linebacker Marshaun Hunter.
Sacramento’s Derek Shelton has passed for 2,359 yards and 36 touchdowns, 13 each to Anthony Bradley and Juwan Tanner. Jamie Cousey is averaging 15.7 yards a carry in rushing for 771 yards and 11 scores. He also has six sacks (Dragons teammate Inoke Waqavesi has 18.5).
Compliments also come from outside the region.
Roger Canepa coaches Central Catholic of Modesto, a program with four CIF State championship rings this decade, and the feisty and fun veteran offered up this to The Modesto Bee about Rocklin, which the Raiders host in D-II: “Their losses are to Granite Bay, Folsom, Oak Ridge and Clovis West. Them are some pretty good teams. (Rocklin) has beaten Del Oro and Grant, you with me? So they’re pretty good. They’re playing some dudes.”
Rocklin is coming off a victory over a Modesto team, rolling Downey 37-7.
Rocklin hails from the Sierra Foothill League and finished behind D-I top seeds Folsom and Oak Ridge and D-II top seed Granite Bay. Central Catholic is from the Valley Oak League that includes the top two seeds in D-II – Oakdale and Manteca. Central Catholic lost to Oakdale 27-21 in Week 10. Central Catholic also beat defending D-I champion St. Mary’s 20-7 this season in the 209 area code’s version of the Holy Bowl.
“It’s do or die – you lose and you go home,” Canepa said of Friday’s game. “That makes it bigger than all the rest. We’re assured 10 (regular-season) games, and that’s all we get. Now, we’re assured nothing. It’s way different than the regular season. You have to be ready to play every Friday or you’re done.”
Here are five games of note, all of which kick off Friday at 7 p.m., unless noted:
Gregori (11-0) at Oak Ridge (10-1), Division I – Gregori is rolling with its first playoff win with its best team while the Trojans figure to flex their defensive muscle in showcasing what the Sierra Foothill League is all about.
Sheldon (9-2) at St. Mary’s (9-2), D-I – The upstart Huskies and their bevy of backs take on the defending champion Rams of Stockton and their rumbler of a back, Dusty Frampton, whose best games the last two seasons have been in the playoffs.
Vacaville (8-3) at Jesuit (9-2), D-I, Saturday, 1 p.m. – The run-heavy visiting Bulldogs are section-ranked 11th by The Bee, two spots below Jesuit, winners of nine in a row. Vacaville has one-point losses to Oak Ridge and Granite Bay.
Sacramento (7-4) at Del Campo (11-0), D-II – The defensive muscle of the host Cougars braces for the speed and skill of a Dragons team that gave Folsom its toughest game this season (28-19) and has played smothering defense on everyone.
Del Oro (6-5) at Inderkum (11-0), D-II – The host Tigers are eager for payback against a Del Oro team that rolled them for the section championship last season; Bill Sherman will coach Del Oro in the interim after the suspension of head coach Jeff Walters.
Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs
All games Friday at 7 p.m., unless noted
No. 8 Tracy at No. 1 Folsom
No. 5 Vacaville at No. 4 Jesuit, Saturday, 1 p.m.
No. 6 Sheldon at No. 3 St. Mary’s
No. 7 Gregori at No. 2 Oak Ridge
No. 8 Antelope at No. 1 Granite Bay
No. 5 Sacramento at No. 4 Del Campo
No. 6 Rocklin at No. 3 Central Catholic
No. 7 Del Oro at No. 2 Inderkum
No. 9 Vanden at No. 1 Oakdale
No. 5 Vista del Lago at No. 4 Patterson
No. 7 American Canyon at No. 2 Manteca
No. 11 Rio Linda vs. No. 3 Christian Brothers at Hughes Stadium
No. 5 Woodland at No. 1 Placer
No. 3 Center vs. No. 2 Casa Roble at Bella Vista
No. 5 Colfax at No. 1 Sonora
No. 7 Ripon at No. 6 Bear River
No. 4 Modesto Christian at No. 1 Bradshaw Christian
No. 6 Hilmar at No. 2 Escalon
No. 4 Woodland Christian at No. 1 Rio Vista
No. 3 Stone Ridge Christian at No. 2 Ripon Christian