Joe Davidson

Prep football preview: League races heating up, including rivalry matchups

Del Oro’s Stone Smartt (4) passes the ball against the Bellarmine Bells on Sept. 11.
Del Oro’s Stone Smartt (4) passes the ball against the Bellarmine Bells on Sept. 11. Special to The Bee

It’s another big week for high school football – isn’t every week big? – with league races heading into the second week.

Expect more shootouts and frantic finishes, particularly when No. 9 Rocklin visits No. 7 Oak Ridge in a Sierra Foothill League meeting of top-tier quarterbacks, William Floyd and Ian Book. Quarterbacks could be the key, too, when Roseville and Blake Rayback play Cosumnes Oaks with Maurice Hayden in a Capital Valley Conference game. And Central Coast section power Aptos provides No. 20 Capital Christian its most formidable test in a nonleague game.

As good as those games should be, here are five with even more on the line:

No. 4 Del Oro (2-2) at No. 1 Folsom (5-0)

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Outlook: The winner will be in excellent shape in the Sierra Foothill League. Del Oro is led by quarterback Stone Smartt, who has connected with Trey Udoffia for five of his six touchdown passes, and running back Dalton Gee (334 yards, four scores). Quarterback Jake Jeffrey and running backs Tre Green and Roger Neal provide a potent backfield for Folsom, the defending league champion and winner of a state-leading 36 consecutive regular-season games. Jeffrey’s favorite targets are Christian Huber and Drake Stallworth. Del Oro has nine interceptions, five by Mason Hurst. Matt Torres, Brad Jenner, Shawn Johnson and Neal lead Folsom in tackles with at least 9 1/2 each per game.

No. 3 Elk Grove (4-0) at No. 2 Grant (4-0)

When: Friday, 7:15 p.m.

Outlook: Recent games between the Delta League rivals have come down to wire, with Grant winning 26-19 last season en route to the league title and the teams splitting their past 18 meetings. Both teams rely on the run, with Grant’s Deshawn Collins (756 yards and nine touchdowns) and Elk Grove’s Ryan Robards (756 yards and 10 touchdowns). Grant also has Mike Green, who is averaging 92.5 rushing yards per game. Both teams have effective quarterbacks, Grant with Mike Cook and Elk Grove with Jayden Machado.

De La Salle (3-1) at No. 5 Granite Bay (3-1)

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Outlook: Granite Bay has been eager for this showdown for years. National power De La Salle is 9-0 against teams from this region, including five victories since 2012. De La Salle, which has won five CIF State Open championships since 2009, lost its opener at Trinity of Texas 26-21, coming up short when a potential winning touchdown pass missed by inches in the closing seconds. De La Salle runs the veer with quarterback Anthony Sweeney (98.0 rushing yards per game) and running backs Antoine Custer (107.5) and Andrew Hernandez (100.0), and it has blue-chip talent in the trenches. Granite Bay is led by quarterback Kyle Kraft and a defense – led by safeties Sam Cusano and Ethan Milner and middle linebacker Ryan McIntosh – that must make some big stops.

No. 15 Whitney (3-1) at No. 18 Del Campo (3-1)

When: Friday, 7:15 p.m.

Outlook: Top-tier quarterbacks are featured in this Capital Valley Conference showdown. Whitney’s Hunter Rodrigues has rebounded from an injury-plagued 2014 by passing for 321.8 yards a game with 23 touchdowns, including 13 to Devin Brocchini and nine to Justin Kraft. Del Campo’s Ben Purcell has had a six-touchdown passing game this season, and he threw for three touchdowns in a triple overtime win over Roseville last week.

Dixon (4-1) at Marysville (5-0)

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Outlook: The small-school Golden Empire League race is a good one, with Dixon, Marysville and Capital Christian, the defending champion, in the mix. Marysville, led by quarterback Chase Tarr, is off to its best start since 1967. Dixon has averaged 228.2 rushing yards, led by Bryce Nakamura (470 yards, five touchdowns) and D’Lornn McMullen (481 yards, six touchdowns).

Joe Davidson: 916-321-1280, @SacBee_JoeD

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