Hometown Report

Football commitments will spice up rivalry between Sac State, UC Davis

Central Catholic’s Montell Bland jumps over Jesuit defenders during a November playoff game. Bland is headed to UC Davis while cousin DaRon Bland chose Sac State.
Central Catholic’s Montell Bland jumps over Jesuit defenders during a November playoff game. Bland is headed to UC Davis while cousin DaRon Bland chose Sac State. jlee@modbee.com

From family to rivals?

It will become official Wednesday morning when pen meets paper on National Signing Day.

Sacramento State and UC Davis received verbal commitments in football from big names in Modesto sure to resonate at family gatherings for years – tailgating parties, Thanksgiving dinners, wedding receptions and birthday parties.

Central Catholic High School linebacker Montell Bland and defensive back DaRon Bland, Montell’s cousin, are headed to UC Davis and Sac State, respectively, adding some intrigue to the annual Causeway Classic. Both made The Modesto Bee’s All-District teams.

“It’s special,” Montell’s father, Louis, told The Modesto Bee. Louis Bland played for Bob Mattos at Sac State in the late 1980s. “They’re going to be able to use their talents to get an education and enjoy the college experience.”

Sac State also received a verbal commitment from Montaz Thompson, a shifty and powerful running back from Pittsburg High. Serra of San Mateo coach Patrick Walsh said of Thompson earlier this season: “Game film doesn’t do him justice. We saw him on film, and he was impressive, but in person, the force he runs with downhill is really impressive. It’s like, wow!”

Max attackMax O’Rourke dreamed this would come but wondered two years ago if he’d ever be to walk or run without a hitch.

The American River College kicker out of Rocklin High will sign with UCD after giving first-year head coach Dan Hawkins a verbal commitment last week during a campus visit. O’Rourke had his senior season at Rocklin come to a grisly end in 2014 when he suffered a broken femur (thigh bone) while playing quarterback. The location of the break alarmed his doctors, who found a fluid-filled tumor in his hip joint. The tumor was benign, and he started his slow climb back, making big kicks for an ARC team that reached the state championship game last fall.

Pac-12 bound – Bee All-Metro stars Trajon Cotton of Inderkum and Gavin Reinwald of Elk Grove High chose colleges after input from family. Cotton, a defensive back, said he will sign with Oregon State, and Reinwald, a record-setting wide receiver, has committed to Cal after initially agreeing to sign with Hawaii.

Grams weighs in – Former Capital Christian head coach Phil Grams is the new offensive coordinator for Lawrence University of Appleton, Wis., replacing close friend Mark Speckman, now the assistant head coach at UCD. Grams was the running backs coach at Lawrence last season. He will continue to run the “Fly” formation – a back in motion at the snap. It worked at Capital Christian, where the Cougars won four league titles and one Sac-Joaquin Section championship.

Pig Bowl honors – The Pig Bowl, the long-running local charity football game, doesn’t draw crowds of 20,000 as it did in the 1970s, but it still resonates. The following were inducted in the Pig Bowl Hall of Fame on Saturday: Steven Heffelfinger, Gordon Knutson and Mike Schuering of the Sacramento Sheriffs; Dave Risley, Brett Satchwell and Pete Willover of Sacramento Police; and Doug Kelly and Leonard Padilla as contributors.

The Law beat the Fire 14-11 at Sac State as the Law’s Terrence McDonald earned MVP honors with touchdown catches of 35 and 27 yards from John Davis and , respectively.

Et ceteraJustin Llorente was promoted from assistant to head coach at Mesa Verde. He was a Bee All-Metro lineman for the Mavericks before playing on the offensive line at Sacramento State.

▪ Adam Reinking has stepped down as the football coach at El Camino, his alma mater. He went 1-9 in his first season (2007) but capped his run with five successive playoff teams.

Joe Davidson: 916-321-1280, @SacBee_JoeD