As opening nights go, this one offered a bit of everything: emotional starts tied to tragedy, frantic finishes, frantic fathers coaching their sons, new-field bliss, coaching returns and milestones, player movement and abrupt endings of games because of fan chaos.
Welcome back, high school football. Some highlights:
Heart-wrenching loss – Nevada Union and its Grass Valley community were devastated after popular Miners player Mitch Adams, 16, died from injuries in a single-car accident before school Monday. There was a moment of silence before the kickoff against visiting Placer, which won 43-7.
Down to the wire – No. 7 Oak Ridge outlasted Whitney for a wild 57-55 victory in El Dorado Hills. Oak Ridge junior Michael Pittman had a breakout game, rushing for 187 yards and four touchdowns and catching an 80-yard scoring strike from Ian Book, all while coaches and players on both sides pleaded for defensive stops. Whitney quarterback Hunter Rodrigues did all he could, accumulating 615 yards of offense. He passed for 459 yards and seven touchdowns and ran for a score.
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“He’s special,” Whitney first-year coach Paul Doherty said.
Folsom’s close call – Second chances are sweet, as Christian Huber can attest. The Folsom receiver dropped a sure touchdown pass that would have put the game out of reach against visiting Clayton Valley Charter. But he redeemed himself with a big kickoff return to the CVC 44-yard line, setting up Tre Green’s winning touchdown with 1:12 to go as the top-ranked Bulldogs won 27-26 and extended their regular-season winning streak to a state-leading 32, dating to 2011.
Fatherly pride, Part I – Folsom co-coach coach Kris Richardson beamed as his son, Kooper, a senior, made his first varsity start at right tackle. He even played some snaps on defense, leaving proud pop to say, “Koop played really well.” Kelly Richardson, the wife and mom, was frantic in the stands, not used to close games after a 16-0 season with 16 running clocks last year.
615 Total yards by Whitney quarterback Hunter Rodrigues against Oak Ridge
Fatherly pride, Part II – El Dorado coach Joe Volek could hardly contain his glee as his son Chris dazzled in his varsity debut. The junior receiver caught six passes from Aaron Golmitz for 225 yards and three touchdowns in a 35-32 victory over host South Tahoe.
Said coach Volek, “Started to tear up. C.J. and his quarterback put on a show.”
Playmaking ‘D’ – Natomas beat visiting Vallejo 7-0 on Keyshawn Strickland’s interception return as the Red Hawks (formerly the Apaches) continue to serve as good medicine for the Nighthawks. Natomas snapped a 32-game losing streak by beating Vallejo 28-14 in last season’s opener, and the Nighthawks reached the playoffs for just the second time.
Field of dreams – No. 2 Grant unveiled its new field with a 50-14 rout of rival Burbank as running backs Deshawn Collins and Mike Green combined for six touchdowns. Pacers coach Mike Alberghini was delighted with the field and his team’s effort. An hour after the game, Alberghini helped collapse and fold tents. Then he drove students home in his four-door sedan.
Over and out – No. 4 Elk Grove lost a quarterback last week when promising junior Tyler Vander Waal left the program. He said he isn’t sure where he will enroll next, adding, “I wish nothing but the best for that program, players and coaches.” Jayden Machado emerged as the starter and was solid in the Thundering Herd’s 38-7 rout of visiting Reno, throwing a 35-yard touchdown pass to Gavin Reinwald.
Chaotic conclusion – The Lincoln-Stagg game of longtime Stockton rivals came to a sudden and unsettling finish. The game was halted at halftime with Lincoln declared the 29-0 winner at Stagg when hundreds of fans bolted for the exits, climbing fences like a fire drill, because of unfounded speculation that someone had waved a gun. Players and coaches said a good rivalry doesn’t deserve a bad reputation and image.
“It’s horrible, horrible, horrible,” Stagg linebacker James Green told The Record of Stockton. “We worked so, so hard. To get to this game, to have it cut short ... ”
Elk Grove plays at Lincoln on Sept. 11.
32 Folsom’s state-leading regular-season winning streak
Welcome back – Steve Kenyon, who elevated Del Campo into a regional power in the mid-1990s through sheer will, offensive ingenuity and strength and conditioning programs, has rejoined the program. He is the offensive coordinator for longtime coach Mike Dimino, and the No. 19 Cougars overpowered visiting Edison of Stockton 63-14 as Ben Purcell threw six touchdown passes. Said Purcell, “Kenyon is the man!”
Top of the charts – Troy Mott became the winningest coach in Napa history after the Indians routed host Montgomery of Santa Rosa 54-21. Mott has gone 77-30, eclipsing the 76 wins of Les Franco, who coached from 1979 to 1989. His players chanted, “Mott! Mott! Mott!” after the game.