It took seven weeks, and it happened without the coach with whom they started the season, but Del Campo football celebrated again.
A monstrous four-touchdown first-quarter effort by Levi Markey and a last-second field goal by Carson Craner lifted the beleaguered Cougars past Rio Americano 41-40 last Thursday night to move the team’s record to 1-6.
This after going 12-1 last season, the second most wins in program history to the 13-1 team that won a Sac-Joaquin Section championship in 2009. The 2009 team was led by Bee Player of the Year Ryan Dimino, now an assistant coach with the Cougars.
He is the son of longtime Del Campo coach Mike Dimino, who stepped down after 15 years before the Rio Americano game to, in effect, catch his breath and save himself from further exhaustion. The team is now coached by Aaron Goldfriend.
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Dimino said he has “medical issues, high blood pressure, but nothing that will kill me and nothing that some time in the gym won’t help.”
Dimino, 59, bows out as one of the region’s top coaches this generation, the son of a great coach from an earlier era — Jim Dimino of El Camino from the 1960s through ’80s.
Mike Dimino led Johnson to its last bit of glory in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and at Del Campo, he guided 14 playoff teams in 15 seasons, all while the retired CHP officer declined to accept a stipend check. Last season’s team was quarterbacked by Bee All-Metro selection Tyler Dimino, son of the coach.
Inexperience and mistakes cost the Cougars this season, though Dimino raves about the coaching staff and student-athletes he leaves behind, adding, “I love Del Campo.”
Great Scot — Highlands was a regional powerhouse in the 1980s, a Division I program that produced scores of athletes who competed in college, and sometimes in the NFL.
The school has much smaller enrollment now, 852, and competes in Division VI, but there’s a player for any era rampaging up and down the field.
Gerald Davis accounted for nine touchdowns in a 65-64 double-overtime victory on Friday over Golden Sierra to move to 4-3. The 5-foot-11, 170-pound senior quarterback passed for 361 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 122 yards and five scores.
He has a fan in coach Matt Cokley, an alum of the school.
“Great kid and leader,” Cokley said. “Gerald’s the heart and soul of our team. Everyone feeds off of him. Gerald can do it all. If I could create a play for him to throw to himself, he would catch it and score!”
Bailey baller — Burbank is 4-3 in large part due to the sheer will and skill of Levelle Bailey.
The senior quarterback/defensive back who has garnered considerable recruiting interest tossed four touchdowns — three to Edward Asi — and ran for a score to key a 56-14 win over River City, setting up a Metro League showdown at No. 3 Monterey Trail on Friday.
Bailey is also a star on the basketball team.
King is king — Cosumnes Oaks is in the Division I playoff hunt with Elijah King doing his part.
The 5-11, 170-pound senior caught eight passes from Anthony Grigsby for 178 yards and three touchdowns to help lift the Wolfpack past rival Franklin for the first time, 21-7.
The teams played as Delta League opponents for the first time, thanks to realignment that brought the two Elk Grove Unified School District programs together. King also had an interception on defense and 10 tackles for Cosumnes Oaks (4-4), which likely needs at least one more victory to secure a playoff berth and closes the regular season against Elk Grove and Davis.
“Elijah has really stepped up big for us lately,” Cosumnes Oaks coach Derick Milgrim said.
Vista surge — It started the season 1-3, including a crushing loss to No. 4 Placer, but Vista del Lago has surged of late with a three-game winning streak to move to 3-0 in the Capital Athletic League and 4-3 overall.
Since falling 70-27 at Placer on Sept. 7, the Eagles have in the CAL defeated El Camino 49-21, Del Campo 31-14 and Rio Americano 28-17 before enjoying a bye over the weekend. Vista closes the regular season against Christian Brothers, Sacramento and No. 7 Capital Christian, the only other unbeaten in the CAL.
Senior quarterback Grant Patterson has led the Vista charge, passing for 1,961 yards and 24 touchdowns, 10 to Chad Wilson. Ethan Menezes has rushed for 561 yards.
Bulldog bite — Encina is 4-3 under first-year coach AJ Ellis, and the Bulldogs seek their first winning record since winning eight games in 2002 under coach Russ Hibbard.
Encina is 4-3 overall and 2-0 in the small-school Sacramento Metropolitan Athletic League. It is led in part by quarterback Carlos Pierre and running back Devon Pacheco.
Big-boy ball — Here’s some context for the recent discussion about Folsom being better suited for a national schedule as compared to the Sierra Foothill League.
Folsom is ranked 25th in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 rankings that are headed by No. 1 St. John Bosco of Bellflower and No. 2 Mater Dei of Santa Ana.
The top two meet Friday, having dominated all comers in recent seasons, including winning CIF State Open Division championships at Sacramento State — Bosco in 2016 with a 56-33 win over De La Salla and Mater Dei last season with a 52-21 decision over De La Salle.
The Bee’s Top 20
1. Folsom (1) 6-1
2. Del Oro (2) 7-0
3. Monterey Trail (3) 7-0
4. Placer (4) 7-0
5. Inderkum (5) 7-0
6. Oak Ridge (6) 5-2
7. Capital Christian (7) 8-0
8. Sheldon (8) 6-1
9. Grant (9) 4-3
10. Granite Bay (10) 3-4
11. Jesuit (11) 5-2
12. Bear River (12) 7-0
13. Elk Grove (13) 3-4
14. Colfax (16) 7-0
15. Center (15) 5-2
16. Rio Linda (17) 5-2
17. Lincoln (20) 4-3
18. Antelope (14) 5-3
19. Ponderosa (18) 5-2
20. Casa Roble (19) 5-1
Dropped out: None
Bubble teams: (alphabetical order): Bradshaw Christian (5-2), Burbank (5-3), Christian Brothers (4-3), Cosumnes Oaks (4-4), Davis (4-3), Dixon (4-3), East Nicolaus (6-0), Foothill (5-2), Oakmont (4-3), River Valley (4-3), Rocklin (2-6), Vista del Lago (4-3), Winters (6-0), Woodcreek (6-2), Yuba City (4-3).
This week’s schedule
All kickoffs between 7-7:30 p.m. Friday, unless noted.
No. 10 Granite Bay at No. 1 Folsom
No. 2 Del Oro at No. 9 Grant
Burbank at No. 3 Monterey Trail
No. 4 Placer at Oakmont
No. 18 Antelope at No. 5 Inderkum
No. 6 Oak Ridge at Whitney
Pleasant Grove at No. 8 Sheldon
Davis at No. 9 Jesuit, Saturday, 1 p.m.
Foothill at No. 12 Bear River
Franklin at No. 13 Elk Grove
No. 14 Colfax at Lindhurst
No. 15 Center at Marysville
No. 16 Rio Linda at No. 17 Lincoln
Nevada Union at No. 19 Ponderosa
Woodland at No. 20 Casa Roble
Bye — No. 7 Capital Christian
Christian Brothers at Vista del Lago
El Camino at Del Campo
Bella Vista at River Valley
Yuba City at Roseville
Pioneer at Dixon
Florin at Natomas
McClatchy at River City
Foresthill at Woodland Christian
Valley Christian at Delta
Golden Sierra at Vacaville Christian
Highlands at San Juan
Rio Vista at Linden
Bradshaw Christian at Union Mine
Galt vs. Rosemont at Liberty Ranch
Johnson vs. Valley at Rosemont
Laguna Creek vs. Kennedy at Cosumnes River College
Mira Loma vs. Mesa Verde at El Camino