Bouncing around the CIF Championship Bowl bonanza ...
Speed, size wanted – ’Tis the season for parents and student-athletes to bemoan the lack of scholarship interest. Here’s a suggestion: Take a close peek at De La Salle and St. John Bosco on Saturday night, in person or on CSNCA.
In that CIF State Championship Open Division showcase between the Spartans of Concord and the Braves of Bellflower – the capper of the high school football season at Sacramento State – there will be a full display of skill players, linebackers and linemen and precisely what college recruiters seek: speed, size, dynamic ability. These are elite programs with elite players. Bosco has seven Division I college players, and De La Salle is a junior-dominated club oozing with prospects.
This isn’t to suggest that one has to attend a powerhouse program to receive college notice (if you’re good, you’ll be found – anywhere). But this game has a collection of players to behold.
Dead-period blues – The five upper-division CIF bowl games at Sacramento State will attract all comers, but not recruiters from FBS conferences such as the Pacific-12, Big Ten and Big 12. This is a “dead period” for those programs, meaning no recruiting contact with athletes – and no state title game visits. And because this is college bowl season, the dead period creates a bit of recruiting fairness, as most programs are not in bowls.
Free-for-all – There are no such dead-period restrictions for FCS, Division II, Division III or community college programs. New UC Davis coach Dan Hawkins will be at Hornet Stadium, as will Sac State coaches and local JC coaches to pore over the talent. The plan: chart ability and study tendencies, sportsmanship and character (it goes beyond size and speed).
Team matters – Del Oro is proof that a program doesn’t need scores of scholarship players to achieve. The Golden Eagles are going for a CIF state title repeat on Saturday, facing San Clemente in the Division I-A title game, with just two players firmly on the recruiting radar: quarterback Stone Smartt and wide receiver-defensive back Mason Hurst. Del Oro averages about one football scholarship a year, still above the national average as studies show that about 1.5 percent of high school athletes across the country in any sport receive full scholarships.
Sacramento-De La Salle connection – De La Salle was founded in Contra Costa County in 1966 by Brother Norman Cook, a graduate of Christian Brothers in Sacramento. Football was not in the initial plans, and it took Brother Cook years of pleading with and coaxing the school board to launch the sport, finally succeeding in 1972. The argument against football was that it would be a distraction to academics. In truth, they go hand-in-hand.
Bob Ladouceur took over as coach in 1979, and De La Salle has gone 442-25-3 since 1980 with 21 unbeaten seasons, 20 Cal-Hi Sports No. 1 state final rankings, 10 national No. 1 finishes and trips to all CIF Bowls since they started 11 years ago. Ladouceur has been an assistant the last four seasons under Justin Alumbaugh.
Keys to success – De La Salle hums along with a basic run offense (the veer), a quick-starting offensive line (legal, though many insist it’s a rolling start) and a basic defense. Neither unit is easy to solve, as simplicity, execution, and superbly conditioned and coached athletes remain the foundation to success.
Too many? – We hear a lot of rumbles that the CIF’s 13 bowl games are excessive. Tell that to East Nicolaus, a state champion last season, and Amador, in a title game this season. Without expansion, the small schools would be omitted, and the CIF motto is that schools in every section deserves a chance to advance.
Best bid – The endless question of how and why Sac State landed the CIF Bowl games is simple: The school offered the best bid, and the CIF jumped at it. This is the second year of a four-year contract with Sac State after the Home Depot Center in Carson won earlier bids for the bowls.