Joe Davidson

Storylines to ponder as the prep football season hits the back stretch

Brawl breaks out at Grant-Del Oro football game before dramatic finish

Del Oro holds off Grant with a 22-21 victory to stay undefeated at 8-0 overall.
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Del Oro holds off Grant with a 22-21 victory to stay undefeated at 8-0 overall.

Two games.

That’s all that remain in the high school football regular season as the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs loom.

Breaking down themes and trends that have shaped the season, including some well off the radar:

Captain Grit

When you have 22 players, everyone plays, and some play every down, ignoring soreness and fatigue, and sometimes a broken finger. Tre Maronic grinded out a game for the ages for Bear River as the junior rushed for 233 yards and three touchdowns, making plays on defense and willing the Bruins past Foothill 56-31 to move to 8-0 by scoring 41 unanswered points.

He played with a heavily bandaged hand to protect a mangled finger. He declined to leave the game.

“Unbelievable display of guts and fortitude, and he refused to give up,” Bear River co-coach Terry Logue said.

Club 200

It’s rare when 200-win coaches face off, but it will happen Friday when Bear River faces 8-0 Colfax for the Pioneer Valley League championship, pitting coaches who have deep respect among each other — Logue and Colfax’s Tony Martello.

This will be small-town football at its best, and a rematch of the section Division V championship won by Bear River last season.

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Agony of defeat

Here’s hoping Jordan Davis doesn’t take even an ounce of heat over her last-second extra-point attempt that hit the upright, allowing Del Oro to hold off Grant 22-21 in Del Paso Heights.

That coach Mike Alberghini had her attempt the pressure-cooker showed how much confidence he has in the soccer standout who is enjoying football for the first time. And a coach’s words can soothe in defeat.

In 2009, Alberghini’s comforting hug and words saved the soul of sophomore Charlie Vue, who’s chip-shot game-winning field-goal attempt just missed in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoff game, allowing Rocklin to hold on.

Vue went on to become the program’s all-time kicking points leader, inspired by his rare miss.

Fantastic Fay

It’s been a trying season for Dawson Fay, the senior running back and leader for Nevada Union. He lost his two best friends in a spring car accident in which he survived, and on Friday, he barreled into the Miners record books as an all-time great.

In rushing for 223 yards during a 38-35 setback to Ponderosa, Faye eclipsed Jefferson Heidelberger from 1999-2001 as the program’s all-time leading rusher. He has 3,443 yards, including 1,534 this season. Fay is 277 yards shy of reaching Heidelberger’s season mark.

At 3-5, Nevada Union needs at least one more win to have a shot at the playoffs, and to end a 34-game league losing streak.

Badger beware

It’s easy to get lost in the talent shuffle at Folsom, where the top-ranked Bulldogs boast of some of the best skill players in regional history. But beware Elijhah Badger, the junior national recruit who turns games as a receiver and return specialist and leads by example with his work ethic in practice.

Versatility counts

Zach Larrier stands as an example of maximizing his high school experience. He plays three sports, and he sports perfect grades for Monterey Trail, starring as a Bee Player of the Year candidate at quarterback and defensive back for a team fast closing in on the program’s first 10-0 regular season.

Monterey Trail routs Burbank in a Metro League contest at Mark Macres Stadium, 41-6

Streak enders

Pleasant Grove has a bye next week and then one last shot to avoid its second 0-10 season in three years with a game against Jesuit.

Bella Vista has two games to prevent going 0-10 for the third successive season. The losing streak for the Broncos overall is 32.

Pleasant Grove and Bella Vista are proud academic schools, but football wins sure help boost campus morale, and no one hurts more than the players, who scoff when anyone on campus dare suggest they stink.

Rolling momentum

Union Mine is proof that motivation is a powerful thing.

The Diamondbacks have been inspired to excel for their beloved old coach Chic Bist as he battles cancer and copes with the loss of his daughter Hope, killed in a car accident last spring. Union Mine beat Bradshaw Christian 22-20 in overtime to move it to 3-0 in the Sierra Valley Conference after an 0-5 start.

Stayin’ alive

Del Campo started 0-6, lost its longtime coach Mike Dimino to exhaustion and near burnout and have since rolled in back-to-back games behind bruising back Levi Markey.

At 2-6, Del Campo can likely secure a playoff berth with wins against Christian Brothers and Bella Vista.

Small-school muscle

Powerhouse programs for decades where a good season often shapes the good vibe of an entire town, Winters and East Nicolaus roll on under alumni coaches.

Winters is 7-0 under coach Daniel Ward, who relies on Daniel Carrion. He has passed for 1,024 yards and 16 touchdowns and rushed for 1,003 and 12.

East Nicolaus is 7-0, has a rushing attack that has scored 37 touchdowns, and a suffocating defense that has pitched three successive shutouts for coach Travis Barker.

‘Hudson Strong’

Proof that teams can help galvanize a community: Lincoln.

Zebras players have helmet decals that read “Hudson Strong” in support of 7-year-old Lincoln resident and Zebras super fan Hudson McCauley. He is a courageous sort who has battled Ewing’s Sarcoma for three years. Hudson has endured 23 surgeries, 47 days of radiation, two years of chemotherapy, and he has spent more than a year in the hospital, though his smile remains firm.

He and twin brother Hunter were honorary captains for Lincoln on Friday.

Watch highlights from Rio Linda's win over Lincoln on Friday, Oct. 12, 2018.

Showdown City

Loomis will be electric for the Week 10 meeting with host Del Oro, ranked second, and Folsom, which has not lost a Sierra Foothill League game since being realigned into the area’s top conference before the 2013 season.

Del Oro has not said if it wants Folsom to remain in the SFL, where other coaches have suggested it’s time for the Bulldogs to go to an independent schedule. Wise move. Folsom doesn’t need any more motivation as it seeks to repeat as CIF State Divison I-AA champions.

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

Watch highlights of Placer's win over Oakmont on Friday, Oct. 12, 2018.

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