Joe Davidson

The Bee’s preseason football rankings, Nos. 11-15: These teams bring timeless tradition

Sacramento High football coach Joe McCray returns 12 starters from a team that pushed Folsom to the brink in 2017.
Sacramento High football coach Joe McCray returns 12 starters from a team that pushed Folsom to the brink in 2017. Special to The Sacramento Bee

One opened about the time the Earth cooled, or in 1856, which seems close enough.

Another opened in 1893, the other in 1932 and yet another in 1977.

Then there’s Rocklin High School, which began in 1993.

Old school, really old, pretty old and sorta old join Rocklin in this set of The Bee’s preseason football rankings. Each share a common thread: Timeless tradition.

No. 11 Sacramento, which opened in 1856 and is the oldest school west of the Mississippi, has been realigned after decades in the Metropolitan Conference to a revamped Capital Athletic League that includes fellow ranked teams Capital Christian and Del Campo.

The Dragons have fielded top teams and players since prep football started in the region in the 1920s, and they have enjoyed some of their greatest seasons this decade.

No. 12 Rocklin has been a playoff mainstay and is among the heavies in the muscle-bound Sierra Foothill League that includes Folsom, Oak Ridge, Del Oro, Granite Bay and two newcomers this fall in Grant and Whitney.

Elk Grove, around since 1893, used to tower of the regional prep scene, particularly in the late 1990s. The Thundering Herd have produced double-digit victory totals six times since 2011.

Opened in 1932, Grant put the new era of regional football on the map with its 2008 CIF State Open Division championship win over national No. 2 Long Beach Poly, and the Pacers peeled off a Sac-Joaquin Section-record 26 consecutive playoff seasons under famed coach Mike Alberghini before the run ended last fall.

Capital Christian is small in enrollment with 400 students but harbors big championship hopes. Opened in 1977, the Cougars have gone ambitious under second-year coach Casey Taylor, including facing their first Division I program — at Cosumnes Oaks in an opener — and playing against Grant again later in the nonleague schedule.

Here are Nos. 11-15:

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Second-year Capital Christian football coach Casey Taylor said a playoff loss to Bear River “was the best thing that could’ve happened to us: a new focus.” Brian Baer Special to The Sacramento Bee

15. Capital Christian (7-4)

Coach: Casey Taylor

League: Capital Athletic

Enrollment: 400

Division: III/IV

School opened: 1977

Opener: at Cosumnes Oaks, Aug. 17

Pedigree: Nine playoff teams since 2007 with six league and three section titles under three coaches.

The skinny: Taylor enters his second season at Capital Christian with a full grasp of what he wants to do: elevate, elevate, elevate. Fourth-year starter D’Marcus Ross is a powerhouse RB/LB for the Cougars and the lines include Will Buck. and Shane Semeit.

14. Grant (4-6)

Coach: Mike Alberghini

League: Sierra Foothill

Enrollment: 1,900

Division: I/II

School opened: 1932

Opener: vs. Davis, Aug. 17

Pedigree: Twenty-six playoff appearances in the last 27 years, seven section titles and 16 league crowns since 1991 under Alberghini.

The skinny: Last season was Grant’s first losing record since 1990 and just the second since the 1970s, but Earth did not fall off its axis. The Pacers thrive for challenges, including its lowest preseason ranking since starting unranked in 1991, when Alberghini’s first team went 10-1. There is size and skill, including WR Paris Warren Jr.

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Matthew Horne (8) leads an Elk Grove team that expects to challenge for the Delta League championship. Brian Baer Special to The Sacramento Bee

13. Elk Grove (5-6)

Coach: John Heffernan

League: Delta

Enrollment: 1,800

Division: I/II

School opened: 1893

Opener: at Inderkum, Aug. 17

Pedigree: Thirty-two playoff teams since 1984 and five section titles in nine title-game appearances, with an all-time great team that went 14-0 in 1998.

The skinny: The Thundering Herd needed a solid year to install coach Heffernan’s triple-option run game, and there are skill players and backs galore for another go, headed by Matthew Horne. The coaching return of Jeff Carlson is a big boost after he stepped down from his dynasty work with the Herd baseball program.

12. Rocklin (7-5)

Coach: Greg Benzel

League: Sierra Foothill

Enrollment: 1,900

Division: II

School opened: 1993

Opener: vs. Antelope, Aug. 17

Pedigree: Eight playoff teams since 2009, including a 14-1 CIF State team in 2009.

The skinny: Few programs in the section have the 1-2 coaching punch of Benzel and defensive coordinator guru Jason Adams. QB Cade Wyant leads the offense and brother Cole the defense at LB. And good luck finding a more versatile player than Charlie McBride, a three-year starter who punts, kicks, plays tight end, H-back, receiver, DE and LB.

11. Sacramento (10-2)

Coach: Joe McCray

League: Capital Athletic

Enrollment: 1,000

Division: III

School opened: 1856

Opener: at Rancho Cotate, Aug. 17

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

The skinny: The Dragons return 12 starters from a team that pushed Folsom to the brink last season in a nonleague game and now enters a talented and deep new league. The skill players include RB Jovan Felton and WR Mychal Williams, with the top defender being DL Simon Taylor.

The Bee’s top 20 high school football teams

The Sacramento Bee is ranking its top 20 high school football teams heading into the 2018 season. Here’s the schedule for the series:

Tuesday: Nos. 16-20

Wednesday: Nos. 11-15

Thursday: Nos. 6-10

Friday: Nos. 1-5

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