Joe Davidson

League races heat up in Sacramento-area prep football

Elk Grove Thundering Herd's Ryan Robards (9), runs for a touchdown making the score 35-7 after the point after attempt was good during the second quarter as the Grant Pacers host the Elk Grove Thundering Herd, Friday October 2, 2015.
Elk Grove Thundering Herd's Ryan Robards (9), runs for a touchdown making the score 35-7 after the point after attempt was good during the second quarter as the Grant Pacers host the Elk Grove Thundering Herd, Friday October 2, 2015. Special to The Bee

As expected, the Sierra Foothill League has become a weekly battle royal. Five SFL teams are ranked in The Bee’s Top 10, including top-ranked Folsom, and Woodcreek is looming outside the Top 20 at 5-1, still waiting for its first win against a ranked team this season. The Delta League, Capital Valley Conference and Pioneer Valley League also have several ranked teams vying for league championship honors.

A closer look at five notable games this week:

No. 19 Jesuit (3-2) at No. 2 Elk Grove (5-0)

When: Friday, 7:15 p.m.

Outlook: Two teams that love to run meet in a rematch of last year’s thriller won by Jesuit 42-38 at Levi’s Stadium. In that game, Beau Bisharat rumbled for 184 yards and two scores, averaging 10.8 yards a carry, and quarterback Cole Brownholtz threw three touchdown passes. Bisharat is back, but Brownholtz is now at Sierra College after paving the way for his brother, Calvin, to take over at quarterback. Elk Grove last week played terrific run defense against one of the section’s best rushing teams, blasting Grant 42-7. Ryan Robards scored all six touchdowns for the Thundering Herd – on runs, special teams and defense. If Jesuit can’t contain Robards and Elk Grove’s offensive line, it’ll be a painful night. Same for the Herd defense and dealing with Bisharat.

No. 3 Oak Ridge (5-1) at No. 6 Granite Bay (3-2)

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Outlook: The prolific offense of Oak Ridge, headed by quarterback Ian Book, takes on the stout defense of the Grizzlies, who have lost to the top two teams in Northern California, 27-14 to Folsom and 37-0 to national powerhouse De La Salle. Granite Bay is led on defense by safety Sam Cusano, who has the duty of keeping track of Book (1,606 passing yards, 17 touchdowns, 312 rushing yards, seven scores) and wide receiver Tommy Dunnigan (eight touchdown catches).

No. 10 Rocklin (3-2) at No. 8 Del Oro (2-3)

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Outlook: A loss ends either team’s hopes of winning the SFL, especially if Folsom keeps rolling, not to mention Oak Ridge, Granite Bay and Woodcreek. Del Oro is coming off a 31-0 loss to Folsom, where the Golden Eagles’ passing game stalled. Rocklin fell to Oak Ridge 38-22 after trailing 38-14 in the fourth quarter. Both teams are eager to show their true colors. Quarterback William Floyd and running back Evyn Holtz lead Rocklin. Del Oro will look to get the passing combination of quarterback Stone Smartt and wide receiver Trey Udoffia untracked.

No. 11 Placer (5-0) at Center (4-1)

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Outlook: The PVL is a deep race with three-time defending champion Placer, 2013 co-champion Center, 2009 winner Lincoln and Colfax, an eight-time champion since 2002. Placer overwhelms opponents with its wing-T offense, with Marcus Ante having passed for 180.6 yards a game and 12 touchdowns. The team averages 310.2 yards rushing per game, led by Waylen Cozad, Jared Halbert and Morgan Rein-Robinson. Center has a dynamic 1-2 running back combination with Tobias Marshall and Marcellus Roberts. Both play linebacker as well.

No. 14 Cosumnes Oaks (4-1) at No. 15 Del Campo (4-1)

When: Friday, 7:15 p.m.

Outlook: Both teams are unbeaten in CVC play along with Antelope, which visits Cosumnes Oaks next week. Quarterback play will be the key. Del Campo has an established, two-year varsity starter in Ben Purcell, who has the Cougars off to their best start in years. Cosumnes Oaks has rotated Maurice Hayden and Austin Greer. Shootouts have been the norm in this league. Expect another.

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