From the heat of August to the chill of winter, the long high school football season is in the home stretch. Sacramento State’s Hornet Stadium hosts the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I and II championships this weekend. All section champions advance to CIF Regional games at home sites next weekend. In the past, only some champions advanced, often leaving top teams at home. The following weekend, Dec. 18-19, Sac State will, for the first time, host upper-division CIF State Championship bowl games. The CIF Bowl games had been in Carson since their launch in 2008.
Division I: Folsom (13-0) vs. Elk Grove (13-0)
When: Saturday, 6 p.m.
What’s at stake: The winner will be the section’s top team and earn a spot in a NorCal Regional game against a Bay Area powerhouse.
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When Folsom has the ball: The Bulldogs use a spread offesne, placing their best athletes in spots to make plays, and no program has been better this decade using the scheme. Since 2010, Folsom is 82-6 with four section and two CIF State titles, and it has charged through this season behind a dominant offensive line and quarterback Jake Jeffrey (3,387 yards and 45 touchdowns passing, 825 yards and 10 touchdowns rushing). Jeffrey had his best game in Friday’s 56-49 victory over St. Mary’s in the section semifinals, passing for 352 yards and four touchdowns and running for 208 yards and two more scores. Folsom also has two tough backs with speed, Tre Green and Roger Neal, reliable receiver Christian Huber, and Drake Stallworth, a playmaker at receiver and on defense and special teams.
When Elk Grove has the ball: The Thundering Herd runs a wing-T that features power and speed behind a stout offensive line that has opened enough room for Ryan Robards to rush for 2,723 yards and 40 touchdowns and average 9.5 yards a carry. Julius Fullah, the Herd’s quickest player, has rushed for 702 yards and nine scores. Quarterback Jayden Machado has passed for 1,523 yards and 21 touchdowns, 12 to Gavin Reinwald and six to Jonas McMillan.
Fast facts: Folsom has won a state-best 29 consecutive games and its last 15 section playoff games. ... Elk Grove is playing for a title for the third time since 2012, and the Herd is eager to win one. ... It’s the second time in section history that 13-0 teams are playing for a title, the last in 1989 when Merced edged Nevada Union.
Division II: Del Oro (7-6) vs. Rocklin (10-3)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
What’s at stake: The winner earns Placer County rivalry bragging rights and a NorCal Regional title game berth.
When Rocklin has the ball: The Thunder operates out of the pistol, with heavy emphasis on quarterback William Floyd (2,805 yards, 30 touchdowns) and tailback Evyn Holtz (1,651 yards and 30 touchdowns rushing). Tight end Wesley Preece (nine touchdowns) and wide receiver Kier Gibson-Adams (eight scores) are the leading targets. Holtz also has caught five touchdown passes.
When Del Oro has the ball: The Golden Eagles have won four section titles and played in two CIF Bowl games since 2011, using a power run game out of a pro set and a dominating line. It’s taken awhile for Del Oro to find its rhythm this season, led by running backs Dalton Gee (886 yards, eight touchdowns) and Cam Davis (580 yards, six touchdowns) and quarterback Stone Smartt (2,041 yards, 15 touchdowns passing). Wide receiver Trey Udoffia can score on runs, receptions and special teams, and he combines with Justin Burrage and Mason Hurst to form one of the section’s top secondaries.
Fast facts: Del Oro beat Granite Bay in a Sierra Foothill League finale to land a playoff spot. ... The teams are a combined 6-0 in the postseason. ... This is the third time these teams have played for the Division II crown. Del Oro won in 2005 to cap a 13-0 season, and Rocklin won in 2009 to finish 14-1. ... Rocklin whipped Del Oro 28-3 earlier this season as the Thunder dominated on defense and special teams. ... Del Oro has won five in a row since losing six of its first eight games.
Sac-Joaquin Section football championships
- Division I: Folsom vs. Elk Grove, Saturday, 6 p.m., Hornet Stadium, Sacramento State
- Division II: Rocklin vs. Del Oro, Friday, 7 p.m., Hornet Stadium, Sacramento State
- Division III: Central Catholic vs. Oakdale, Friday, 7 p.m., Lincoln High School, Stockton