Paul Doherty comes across to his young football team as snarling, grumpy and repetitive.
He knows it, and the veteran Sacramento High School football coach vows to keep preaching the same tired tune: Effort and accountability equal success (and a grinning coach).
After the Dragons walloped a good Christian Brothers outfit 40-0 in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoff opener in Oak Park on Saturday afternoon, Doherty had his team take a knee to soak in the moment and absorb more noise.
“You think this is fun?” the coach barked. “No. This isn’t fun. Winning a playoff game on the road? Now that’s fun. That can be us next week. Up to you. But until you really focus, all the time, every day, we’ll sputter on the road.”
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There was no sputtering here as the Dragons overwhelmed CBS in a meeting of onetime Metro League rivals. Sacramento (9-2) succeeded with the pass, the run, on special teams and on defense in bouncing the Falcons (8-3) on this field for the second successive playoff season. Caden Voges passed for 226 yards and four touchdowns, pushing his season totals to 3,614 yards and 49 touchdowns. The junior had touchdown strikes of 47, 6 and 13 yards to Kyron Basped, hit Deston Garrett for a 24-yard touchdown and scored on a 23-yard touchdown to earn a shot at redemption and a bit of history.
A year after winning the first playoff games in the long, mixed history of the program, the Dragons seek to up the stakes. Those three playoff games last season came on the Dragons’ turf. Sacramento has never won a postseason road game, and it will play at Manteca on Friday in the second round. Manteca rolled the Dragons 49-6 in the D-III final last season in the rain.
“I know the kids think all I do is yell, but we know how good they can be,” Doherty said. “Fun isn’t hanging out in the locker room or winning a home game. Fun is winning on the road, championship football. Last year, we overachieved. This group hasn’t achieved enough yet.”
Sacramento, which led 20-0 at halftime and 40-0 after three quarters, has dominated opponents 296-0 while going 5-0 at home this fall.
Basped and Lonny Powell showed why they’re two of the most dominant athletes in the section, making plays as receivers, runners and on special teams and/or defense. The only man more active than those two seniors was Pat Doherty, the coach’s proud, nonstop father who serves as a team manager of sorts, be it working on the field five hours before kickoff or manning the portable water horse.
Those chores equate to fun for the elder Doherty, and he nodded as his son stressed what football fun can be.
Vintage players confess – While warming up to play Elk Grove in a D-II opener Friday night, four Vintage players were detained by Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department officers for slipping into the Thundering Herd’s wrestling room and stealing wallets and phones, according to Elk Grove coaches and administrators. The players initially denied the thefts, and parents vehemently defended them. Vintage coach Kyle Hoffman insisted the players fess up or the Crushers would forfeit the game and head home.
The players fessed up. The stolen equipment was found in their bags. One Vintage player was escorted off the field during warmups. The players, initially in the back seat of a Sheriff’s car, were turned over to their parents. Elk Grove, extra inspired, led 34-0 after the first quarter and 62-7 at halftime and won 69-7 in rolling up nearly 700 yards of offense.
Davis players earlier this season had items stolen from their gear inside a guarded Grant dressing room. That investigation continues.
Every-down grinders – Monterey Trail has only 25 players, the norm over the years for the Mustangs, who still play big. Everyone plays. And few compete as hard as Trey Nahhas, who rushed 36 times for 243 yards and two scores and dived in for a two-point conversion in a 29-28 victory over Cosumnes Oaks in a D-I opener Friday night.
Jermaine Bell had two interceptions for 45 return yards, including the game clincher near the Monterey Trail goal line as time ran out. He also had two receptions from E.J. Viacrusis for 85 yards. Viacrusis completed 7 of 8 passes for 127 yards, ran for a score and passed for the eventual winning two-point conversion. Rodney Spidell played left offensive tackle and helped his team churn out 422 yards of offense, and he had seven tackles from his defensive-line spot.
Et cetera – Roseville had nine sacks in a 14-6 D-II loss to old Sierra Foothill League rival Del Oro on Friday. Golden Eagles coach Casey Taylor said it was “better to win ugly than lose pretty.”
▪ El Dorado (10-0) frowned at its No. 8 seed in D-III but couldn’t back it up, falling to Benicia 45-7 on Friday.
▪ Modesto also frowned at its No. 8 seed in D-I and lost to No. 9 Franklin 24-10 on Saturday.