Wesley Preece grew up rumbling down football fields in Placer County.
He’d catch a ball and gallop, delivering knee pads to chests and chins to all comers.
Now grown at 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, the kid has become a man, and he’s still in full rumble mode.
The UC Davis sophomore tight end from Rocklin High School caught three of Jake Maier’s four touchdown passes Saturday night in a stirring 48-24 rout of North Dakota, last season’s co-Big Sky Conference champion.
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Preece scored on receptions of 3, 15 and 20 yards as Maier, also a sophomore, completed 33 of 38 passes for 415 yards. The Aggies moved to 3-2 with a young roster not expected to do much, based on preseason coaching ballots.
But first-year coach Dan Hawkins has UCD inspired, matching his frenetic energy, and the Aggies have already matched last season’s victory total after amassing 658 yards, 46 shy of the school record set in the Division II playoffs in 2000 against Mesa State.
Preece impressed Hawkins in training camp: the big frame, the soft hands, the active feet, the ability to fight for extra yards. Preece is a throwback target in a new-wave game.
Preece on Saturday also caught the attention of former UCD tight end star Daniel Fells, who played in the NFL. Fells was a halftime guest with Aggies radio broadcasters Scott Marsh and Doug Kelly.
“He likes Preece – a lot,” Kelly said Monday. “Preece is hard to cover. Best tight end Davis has had in quite a while.”
Said the modest Preece after the game, “Three touchdown (catches) exceeded my expectations.”
Preece had a good friend contribute on Saturday as well. Former Rocklin teammate Max O’Rourke booted two field goals and six extra points for the Aggies, who take on the other Big Sky co-champion from 2016, Eastern Washington, on Saturday at Aggie Stadium.
UCD opened Saturday’s scoring on a C.J. Spencer 5-yard touchdown run. Spencer graduated from Inderkum High.
Taylor time – Utah, rolling at 4-0, had a weekend bye, allowing coaches to hit the recruiting trail.
This included Utes offensive coordinator Troy Taylor, the one-time Folsom High co-coach now in his first season in Salt Lake City. Taylor watched Folsom beat Granite Bay 35-14 and was wowed by receiver Joe Ngata, whose older brother Ariel Ngata is playing defense on scholarship at Washington.
Taylor said he and his family have enjoyed Utah, and he looked refreshed despite so many days that start at 4 a.m.
“And we’re running the same stuff at Utah that we did at Folsom,” Taylor said with a laugh.
JC QB flavor – All four were Bee All-Metro quarterbacks in high school, and each has plenty to prove as they covet scholarships to a four-year program of any classification in any state; imagine the motivation of Peyton Wilfley, Hunter Rodrigues, Joe Curry and Jayden Machado.
Wilfley of Casa Roble passed for 295 yards and hit Arthur Jackson for three touchdown passes in American River College’s 21-20 win at previous state No. 2 San Mateo on Saturday. Wilfley filled in for a banged-up Rodrigues, of Whitney, and the Beavers sealed it on Kaleb Meder’s late block of a point after touchdown to move to 4-1.
At about the same time in Rocklin, Curry of Folsom passed for 265 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions in Sierra’s 52-30 rout of Santa Rosa. The Wolverines improved to 3-2, recovering strong from an 0-2 start (including a 37-36 loss to San Mateo).
And at Hughes Stadium, Machado of Elk Grove passed for 323 yards and four touchdowns, hitting Jordan Moore for three of them, in a 34-21 triumph of Sequoias for a 5-0 start. This is Sac City’s best team in years.
The programs have a bye this week. Sierra hosts Sac City on Oct. 14. Sac City hosts ARC on Oct. 21, and ARC hosts Sierra in a regular-season finale on Nov. 11.