Joe Davidson

Why a book on the history of high school football in California is a must-read

Sacramento-area native and longtime Cal-Hi Sports editor Mark Tennis offers endless nuggets in his book, “High School Football In California.”
Sacramento-area native and longtime Cal-Hi Sports editor Mark Tennis offers endless nuggets in his book, “High School Football In California.” Courtesy of the Tennis family

Mark Tennis is big on statistics, a prideful history buff.

So much so that he has helped compile and edit seven state record books on California prep achievements in between compiling exhaustive and informative team and player rankings as editor and publisher of Cal-Hi Sports as an authoritative voice on such subjects.

Now Tennis is beaming at the result of his latest project, a freshly released book he wrote, “High School Football in California.”

“We’re the No. 1-selling book for teens and young adults in the world, according to Amazon,” Tennis said with a hearty laugh, adding, “I don’t know exactly what that means. But, I’m feeling, ‘OK!’ I know it’s fun to say it.”

Tennis watched his first prep game in 1969 and started to study them in 1973, when he was a freshman at Carmichael’s La Sierra High, which closed in 1984. He and his uncle, Nelson Tennis, co-founded Cal-Hi Sports in 1979, nurturing its growth from a newsletter to its current format of

“High School Football in California,” the book written by Cal-Hi Sports editor Mark Tennis, is “the No. 1-selling book for teens and young adults in the world, according to Amazon,” Tennis said. Courtesy of the Tennis family

Nelson started compiling state football records in 1975, with countless hours of research in the state library in Sacramento, then expanded it to all sports. He was 67 when died of bladder cancer in 2004. Tennis and his uncle were inducted into the Sac-Joaquin Section’s first Hall of Fame class in 2010 for their contribution to football.

The book is a must-have for any fan of high school football. It chronicles the top players, teams, coaches and eras with myriad factoids, including of local note:

The first published report of a football game was in 1873.

▪ The modest starts of famed names Tom Brady, Bob Ladouceur, Aaron Rodgers and more.

▪ How the CIF State format came to play under the vision of retired section commissioner Pete Saco.

▪ The Jake Browning-led Folsom team that went 16-0 in 2014.

▪ All-time greatest teams, players and records.

The book can be ordered through Amazon.

Rocklin loses “major impact” player — Rocklin suffered a big blow before it kicked off its season against Antelope on Friday.

Versatile senior star Charlie McBride attended the game in a walking boot, courtesy of a broken foot. He will need surgery and is out for the season. The three-year starter has taken snaps at tight end, H-back, receiver, defensive end, linebacker, kicker and punter, making him “a major impact,” Rocklin coach Greg Benzel said.

Added Benzel on Saturday, “Our hearts ache for him.”

Field dedication — Liberty Ranch celebrated twice on Friday night.

The Galt school that opened in 2009 held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to formally introduce its new all-weather field, which included principal Joe Saramago, Galt Mayor Lori Heuer, Sacramento County supervisor Don Nottoli and student body president Olivia Nelson all giving quick speeches. The complex includes a synthetic track.

Then Liberty Ranch rolled Johnson 47-0, leading 40-0 at the half behind three Gabriel Nino touchdown runs and two scores by Matthew Hopper. Anthony Linebaugh is in his second tour as the Hawks coach.

Allen express — Josiah Allen isn’t that big at 5-foot-8 and 165 pounds, but he plays big and fast.

The Franklin junior rushed for 194 yards on 24 carries and three touchdowns, and Brandon Rundgren passed for 296 yards in powering the Wildcats past McNair 38-23. The Wildcats entered The Bee rankings this week at No. 20. Allen had 266 all-purpose yards, contributing on special teams and as a receiver.

Tigers triumph — It took nearly four hours, but Roseville beat Bear Creek 52-46 in one of the highest scoring games in the state.

The Tigers piled up 489 yards but allowed three kickoff returns for scores, though the defense only allowed six points in the second half in equaling last season’s victory total. Roseville went 9-2 in 2016. Against Bear Creek, Alex Nicholas passed for 265 yards and a score while running for two more, Aaron Shima rushed for 179 yards and three touchdowns, and Terrell Williams returned a kickoff 99 yards and an interception 40 yards for scores.

The 99-yard return ties a national prep record, as kickoffs cannot be taken out of the end zone at this level.

The Bee’s Top 20

Last week’s ranking in parentheses.

1. Folsom (1) 0-1

2. Jesuit (2) 0-0

3. Oak Ridge (3) 1-0

4. Del Oro (4) 1-0

5. Placer (6) 1-0

6. Inderkum (7) 1-0

7. Monterey Trail (8) 1-0

8. Antelope (10) 1-0

9. Grant (14) 1-0

10. Capital Christian (15) 1-0

11. Granite Bay (5) 0-1

12. Rocklin (12) 0-1

13. Sheldon (9) 0-1

14. Sacramento (11) 0-1

15. River Valley (16) 1-0

16. Elk Grove (13) 0-1

17. Christian Brothers (18) 1-0

18. Bear River (19) 1-0

19. Casa Roble (20) 1-0

20. Franklin (-) 1-0

Dropped out: Del Campo

Bubble teams: Yuba City (1-0), Burbank (0-1), Vista del Lago (1-0), Oakmont (1-0), Colfax (1-0), Lincoln (0-1), Cordova (0-1), Whitney (0-0), Center (1-0), Del Campo (0-1), Bradshaw Christian (1-0).

This week’s schedule

Kickoffs between 7-7:30 p.m. Friday, unless noted

Top 20

No. 2 Jesuit at No. 1 Folsom

Vacaville at No. 3 Oak Ridge

No. 4 Del Oro vs. Oak Grove

Whitney at No. 5 Placer

No. 6 Inderkum at American Canyon

No. 7 Monterey Trail at San Ramon Valley

Lincoln at No. 8 Antelop

No. 9 Grant at Central-Fresno

Patterson at No. 10 Capital Christian

No. 11 Granite Bay at Damonte Ranch

No. 12 Rocklin at No. 20 Franklin

Burbank at No. 13 Sheldon

No. 14 Sacramento at Chico

No. 15 River Valley at River City

No. 17 Christian Brothers vs. Pleasant Grove

El Dorado at No. 18 Bear River

No. 20 Casa Roble vs. Rio Americano at Del Campo

Other games

Cordova at Davis

Cosumnes Oaks at McNair

Durham at Bradshaw Christian

Woodcreek at Kennedy

Esparto at Foresthill

Galt at Fortuna

El Camino at Bella Vista

Liberty Ranch at Center

Laguna Creek at Natomas

Lindhurst at Highlands

Mesa Verde at Golden Sierra

Oakmont at Roseville

Pioneer at Rio Linda

Riverbank at Delta

San Juan vs. Florin at Monterey Trail

Union Mine at Argonaut

Valley at Chavez

Vista del Lago at Ponderosa

Western Sierra vs. Johnson

Maxwell at Woodland Christian

Yuba City at Pleasant Valley

Colfax at Woodland

Spanish Springs at Nevada Union

Valley Christian at Incline

Wheatland at Marysville

Winters at Dixon

Follow The Bee’s Joe Davidson:, @SacBee_JoeD on Twitter,

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