Know Thine Enemy: Elk Grove Thundering Herd

 

Elk Grove football's Manny Scott-Anderson (right) leaps to try and block a punt in a playoff game against Vacaville-Wood Friday. (BRIAN BAER/THE SACRAMENTO BEE)

It’s hard enough stopping one good running back.

But the Elk Grove Thundering Herd football team, the two seed in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoffs, has three guys that are incredibly difficult to stop in seniors Manny Scott-Anderson, Spencer Sheff and Eltoro Allen (3,037 rushing yards, 43 rushing TDs combined).

No. 3 St. Mary’s heads to Elk Grove Friday night for a Div. II semifinal, and it could be a war.

My “Know Thine Enemy” blog is back to break down the Thundering Herd.

KICKOFF IS FRIDAY AT 7 P.M.

Opponent: No. 2 Elk Grove Thundering Herd

Record: 10-2, 5-2 Delta League (Elk Grove, Div. II No. 1 seed Grant, Div. I No. 2 seed Jesuit, and Franklin, Monterey Trail, Pleasant Grove, Davis and Sheldon).

Playoff History: Elk Grove is a five-time Div. I champion, in 1984, 1991, 1997, 1998 and 2001.

Key Offensive Player: No. 7 Eltoro Allen (RB/DB, Sr.) – 1,165 rushing yards, 18 rushing TDs

Key Defensive Player: No. 16 Manny Scott-Anderson (RB/DB, Sr.) – 84 total tackles, 10 sacks, 2 INTs

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Phone: 209-546-8272

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Know Thine Enemy: Granite Bay Grizzlies

Granite Bay football and defensive end Adam Gearing (left) host Tracy in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I semifinal Friday. (ANDREW SENG/SACRAMENTO BEE)

It doesn’t get any easier for No. 7 Tracy football. Even after a rousing 48-38 upset of No. 2 Jesuit on the road in Carmichael Saturday afternoon, at a muddy Loyola Field.

Tracy gets third-seeded Granite Bay, in its first trip to the section semifinals since the era of coach Wayne Schneider, around 1989 or 90, Schneider said.

My “Know Thine Enemy” blog returns to break down Granite Bay:

KICKOFF IS FRIDAY AT 7 P.M.

Opponent: No. 3 Granite Bay Grizzlies

League: Sierra Foothill League with Folsom (Div. I No. 1), Rocklin (Div. II No. 6), Del Oro (Div. II No. 4), Oak Ridge, Woodcreek and Nevada Union.

Record: 9-3, 4-2 SFL

Key Offensive Player: No. 84 Will Stabbert (TE, Sr.) – 551 receiving yards, 8 TDs

Key Defensive Player: No. 5 Cameron Smith (ILB, Sr.) – 134 total tackles, 4 INTs

Championship History: Granite Bay has five Sac-Joaquin Section titles, all in the past 15 years and all under coach Ernie Cooper. The Grizzlies have Div. I banners in 2011 and 2012 and Div. II banners in 1999, 2000 and 2007.

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Phone: 209-546-8272

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St. Mary’s football bowl potential, state ranking rising

St. Mary's football coach Tony Franks (center) and the Rams before their opening-round playoff game against River Valley. (ROGER WOO/THE RECORD)

The last thing the Rams want to do is focus on a Sac-Joaquin Section Division II championship game, or would it would take to qualify for the NorCal Div. I bowl game.

Because really, No. 3 St. Mary’s has a semifinal at No. 2 Elk Grove, and the 10-2 Thundering Herd are absolutely no joke. Joe Davidson, who’s been working with The Sacramento Bee for 25 years, said Elk Grove has the best three-pronged rushing attack he’s ever seen at the high school level.

We’ll break that game down more later. But for now, I’ll take a look at St. Mary’s rapidly-improving state rankings, and the way they may be able to sneak into a bowl game.

It would certainly take a lot to happen, and a little bit of help from the Bay Area.

RAMS’ RANKINGS BOOST

St. Mary’s (11-1) broke into Cal-Hi Sports’ Top 25 State Rankings for the first time this season, in at No. 21 after slamming Rocklin 56-14 in the Div. II quarterfinals. Here’s a quick look at those rankings:

1. (1) ST. JOHN BOSCO (BELLFLOWER) 11-1

2. (2) DE LA SALLE (CONCORD) 11-0

3. (3) FOLSOM 12-0

4. (6) CENTENNIAL (CORONA) 10-2

5. (8) LONG BEACH POLY (LONG BEACH) 11-1

6. (7) OCEANSIDE 11-0

7. (9) GRANT (SACRAMENTO) 12-0

8. (11) BISHOP AMAT (LA PUENTE) 9-3

9. (4) JSERRA (SJ CAPISTRANO) 10-2

10. (5) MATER DEI (SANTA ANA) 9-3

11. (12) SERRA (GARDENA) 8-3*

12. (10) CRESPI (ENCINO) 9-2

13. (15) UPLAND 10-2

14. (17) CATHEDRAL CATHOLIC (SAN DIEGO) 10-1

15. (14) WESTLAKE (WESTLAKE VILLAGE) 8-3*

16. (18) MISSION VIEJO 10-2

17. (16) SANTA MARGARITA (RANCHO SM) 6-5*

18. (22) CLAYTON VALLEY (CONCORD) 12-0

19. (25) EDISON (FRESNO) 10-1

20. (NR) MISSION HILLS (SAN MARCOS) 9-2

21. (NR) ST. MARY’S (STOCKTON) 11-1

22. (23) VALLEY CHRISTIAN (SAN JOSE) 9-2

23. (24) EL CAPITAN (LAKESIDE) 11-0

24. (NR) FOOTHILL (PLEASANTON) 9-2

25. (NR) HELIX (LA MESA) 9-2

Dropped Out:
Previous No. 13 Milpitas; No. 19 St. Francis (La Canada); No. 20 Serra (San Mateo); No. 21 Tesoro (Las Flores).

St. Mary’s would likely play No. 7 Grant in the Div. II championship, should it beat Elk Grove on the road this week. No. 13 Milpitas, previously unbeaten, lost to Bellarmine in the Central Coast Section playoffs, which could open a door for the Rams to get into a Nor Cal Div. II bowl game IF:

  1. Los Gatos wins its CCS Open Division section championship. St. Mary’s hosted and defeated Los Gatos 35-32 in September, and thus would have a head-to-head advantage if both teams had a section title. Plus St. Mary’s has one loss and Los Gatos has two.
  2. St. Mary’s has to beat Elk Grove and then Grant or Vacaville in the section title game. That is NOT an easy task. All three of these teams are loaded. And St. Mary’s will not return home to Sanguinetti Field this year, no matter what.
  3. Sacred Heart Prep loses, because it’s unbeaten, and Valley Christian needs to lose too, because it beat St. Ignatius, which St. Mary’s lost to in double OT.
  4. Thank you to Cal-Hi Sports’ Mark Tennis for the help in identifying potential scenarios.
Below are Cal-Hi Sports’ latest Div. I NorCal bowl rankings:
DIVISION I NORTH
1. De La Salle (Concord) 11-0
2. Folsom 12-0
3. Grant (Sacramento) 12-0
4. St. Mary’s (Stockton) 11-1
5. Valley Christian (San Jose) 9-2
6. Foothill (Pleasanton) 9-2

Basically, De La Salle, if it wins out, should be the CIF State Open Division championship game NorCal representative (there are no longer regional Open Division games, just a state championship), while Folsom, which will likely be Div. I SJSCIF champion, would be the shoe-in for the No. 1 seed for the NorCal Div. I bowl game.

That leaves No. 2 open. And St. Mary’s is second in-line behind that, according to these rankings at least, for that bowl game. First in line is Grant. And if the Rams could pull the upset there, who knows.

Again, this is purely conjecture, but part of the fun of the postseason is looking into the lofty possibilities. St. Mary’s has its work cut out for it at Elk Grove this week, though. And I’ll be there tweeting live updates.

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Prep Football Helmet Stickers: Playoffs Part II

Elliot Christian's Kade Piazza (with ball) had 155 rushing yards and a touchdown in a playoff rout of Brookside Christian Friday. (CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD)

STEPHEN GUDINO (St. Mary’s WR, Sr.)

Gudino, a senior, has really come into his own at the end of this season. Friday, in a 56-14 playoff win over Rocklin, Gudino had four catches for 96 yards, including two TD grabs of 46 and 28 yards from QB Noah Righetti. This kid is fast, he’s ultra-confident and he’s a difference-maker in the postseason.

NATE JONES (Tracy RB, Sr.)

Jones was built for Saturday’s 48-38 upset of Jesuit.

The Bulldogs senior took 21 carries for 135 yards, and the game’s final two touchdowns, of 2 and 5 yards. He and quarterback  Michael Brown took every carry of the 9-play, 78-yard drive that put Tracy ahead for good late in the fourth quarter.

DEVIN NUNEZ (Sierra QB, Sr.)

Hats off to Sierra’s Nunez, who grew steadily as a senior, and finished with an incredible game as the Timberwolves lost 49-44 in the Div. III quarterfinals to Rio Linda. Nunez had 126 rushing yards on 15 carries with a touchdown, and went 11 of 20 passing for 195 yards with a 37-yard TD pass to Daniel Wyatt.

DOMINIC SPADAFORE (Elliot Christian RB, Sr.)

After opening the season with a loss, the Eagles (10-1) have a chance to claim their first Division VII title thanks to their relentless ground attack. Spadafore (28 rushes, 215 yards) had touchdowns of 1, 3, 4, 6, 6 and 13 yards, and also caught an 18-yard touchdown from quarterback Holden Butler (8 of 9, 112 yards, no interceptions).

(Writing courtesy of The Record’s corespondent staff).

NOAH RIGHETTI (St. Mary’s QB, Sr.)

Righetti is peaking at exactly the right time. Against Rocklin, he went 11 of 19 passing for 262 yards and three touchdowns, with an interception.

JOSH CLARKE (Tracy WR/CB, Sr.)

Clarke chose the right time to have quite possibly his best game of the season. He had a 57-yard TD reception on a deep post, and blocked two extra-point attempts. While Tracy won by 10, that easily could’ve been the difference.

KADE PIAZZA (Elliot Christian RB, Sr.)

Spadafore wasn’t the only one who shined for the Eagles, as Piazza took 19 carries for 155 yards and Elliot Christian’s first touchdown, on a 7-yard run.

JAKE ALVARADO (Tracy WR/S, Sr.)

Alvarado, who Bulldogs coach Matt Shrout called “pound-for-pound” possibly the best player on his team, had TD runs of 4 and 25 yards, a TD reception of 10 yards and a fumble recovery in the upset of Jesuit.

SHANE MCDERMOTT (St. Mary’s DL, Sr.)

McDermott is a 6-foot-4 menace on the Rams’ defensive line. He had an early sack Friday and batted a pass into the air that Dwight Jackson intercepted.

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Stats and Breakdown: St. Mary’s runs past Rocklin in Div. II playoffs

St. Mary's football was amped for its Sac-Joaquin Section Division II quarterfinal with Rocklin Friday at Sanguinetti Field. (PHOTO COURTESY OF MAXPREPS)

It was supposed to be one of the weekend’s closest games.

No. 3 St. Mary’s football had sixth-seeded Rocklin in town Friday in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division II quarterfinal. The Thunder were much more than a No. 6, but a Sacramento-area power with 73 players on its roster, big, tall, strong and fast kids and a resume that includes a win over perennial power Del Oro.

St. Mary’s, though, was unfazed.

The Rams led by two touchdowns at half and ran away by blanking the Thunder 28-0 in the second half, in a 56-14 thrashing at Sanguinetti Field in Stockton.

Here’s a quarter-by-quarter breakdown and a complete statistical look at both teams’ nights:

FIRST QUARTER

After the Rams started the game with a three-and-out, senior Shane McDermott sacked Thunder quarterback Will Floyd. From there, St. Mary’s scored four plays later, as QB Noah Righetti found WR Stephen Gudino on a 46-yard seam route on third down for a 7-0 lead, 8:04 left in the first quarter.

Rocklin struck back with an 8-play, 65-yard drive, capped by an 18-yard screen pass TD to Blake Laurin.

SECOND QUARTER

The Rams’ Daniel Montijo tipped Floyd’s pass to force a turnover on downs. Five plays later, St. Mary’s Tavonne Johnson took a handoff right, and was nearly tackled. But, his knee never scraped the turf, and he popped up and dashed 45 yards for a touchdown and a 14-7 lead.

St. Mary’s Justin Mills intercepted Floyd soon after, and on 4th down from Rocklin’s 28, Righetti lobbed it to Gudino, who tip-toed past the goal line for his second TD and a 21-7 lead.

With less than 40 seconds to half, Floyd hit Wesley Preece with a 22-yard fade TD to cut it to 21-14. But Righetti and WR Javonte Norman lit up the home crowd, with a beautiful 71-yard TD streak down the right sideline for a 28-14 halftime advantage.

THIRD QUARTER

St. Mary’s linebacker Khalil Hodge opened the second half by intercepting a Floyd pass over the middle. However, five plays later, a Righetti pass was tipped and picked off by the Thunder.

Crazy enough, on the very next play, the Rams’ (11-1) McDermott tipped a pass into the air and Dwight Jackson intercepted it and brought it to the 8-yard line. Two plays later, Marcell Spady ran in his first of four TDs, from 2 yards for a 35-14 lead.

Spady added an 8-yard TD run for a 42-14 lead after three.

FOURTH QUARTER

The Rams, in a game that was supposed to be quite close, got two more TDs of 16 and 4 yards from Spady, and celebrated its 56-14 rout with a running clock. St Mary’s plays at No. 2 Elk Grove in a Friday semifinal at 7 p.m.

STATISTICS

ROCKLIN (9-3)

Passing

Will Floyd: 15 of 33, 148 yards, 2 TDs, 4 INTs

Rushing

Evyn Holtz: 9 rush, 54 yards

Will Floyd: 8 rush, 18 yards, 3 sacks, 1 fumble

Vann Calhoun: 4 rush, 5 yards

Riley Clark: 1 rush, 1 yard

Receiving

Blake Laurin: 7 rec., 60 yards, TD

Vann Calhoun: 3 rec., 32 yards

Brady Mays: 3 rec., 30 yards

Wesley Preece: 1 rec., 22 yards, TD

No. 8: 1 rec., 4 yards

Total Offense: 226 yards (148 passing, 78 rushing)

ST. MARY’S (11-1)

Passing

Noah Righetti: 11 of 19, 262 yards, 3 TDs, INT

Rushing

Marcell Spady: 18 rush, 77 yards, 4 TDs

Tavonne Johnson: 5 rush, 62 yards, TD

Noah Righetti: 6 rush, 16 yards

Dewey Cotton: 2 rush, 4 yards

Receiving

Stephen Gudino: 4 rec., 96 yards, 2 TDs

Javonte Norman: 1 rec., 71 yards, TD

Dewey Cotton: 3 rec., 42 yards

Demetrius Ferguson: 2 rec., 35 yards

Keaton Hampton: 1 rec., 16 yards

Karsten Lee: 1 rec., 9 yards

Total Offense: 421 yards (262 passing, 159 rushing)

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Rocklin-St. Mary’s Player of the Game: Stephen Gudino

St. Mary's wide receiver Stephen Gudino (right) stares down a Lincoln opponent after scoring a TD Nov. 7. (CALIXTRO ROMIAS/THE RECORD)

St. Mary’s football coach Tony Franks says everything the Rams do is geared toward playing their best football in November. That is, when the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs are unfolding.

And as Franks also said, St. Mary’s senior wide receiver Stephen Gudino had “epitomized” that train of thought, coming on strong in the season’s second half and thriving in the playoffs. Friday, as the No. 3 Rams rolled the No. 6 Rocklin Thunder, Gudino had four catches for 96 yards and two touchdowns.

The first strike was the game’s inaugural TD, leaping up and grabbing a 46-yard pass from Noah Righetti on a deep post. The second was impressive, too, as Gudino got open for a rolling Righetti on fourth down, grabbing a 28-yard lob, keeping his feet in-bounds and tip-toeing into the end zone.

That’s why Gudino is my Player of the Game for Rocklin-St. Mary’s.

HONORABLE MENTION

NOAH RIGHETTI (St. Mary’s QB, Sr.)

Righetti had another big-time playoff performance, going 11 of 19 for 262 yards and three touchdowns, with one interception. The best was a beautiful 71-yard bomb on a streak to WR Javonte Norman near halftime for a TD.

MARCELL SPADY (St. Mary’s RB, Sr.)

Spady was bottled up in the first half by the Thunder, held to 14 yards, but had 63 yards and all four of St. Mary’s second-half touchdowns. Those body blows wore down the Rocklin defense — kind of like the Seahawks’ Marshawn Lynch or the Packers’ Eddie Lacy wears down NFL defenses — and a fired-up Spady came through.

SHANE MCDERMOTT (St. Mary’s DL, Sr.)

McDermott, a 6-foot-4 menace on the Rams’ line, had another primetime game, with a sack, good play throughout. He batted a pass into the air that teammate Dwight Jackson intercepted early in the second half.

KHALIL HODGE (St. Mary’s LB, Sr.)

Hodge, who picked off a pass from Rocklin QB Will Floyd over the middle, was a stopgap in the St. Mary’s run defense like he is every week.

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Tracy-Jesuit Player of the Game: Jake Alvarado

Tracy football's Jake Alvarado had two touchdown runs, a TD reception and a fumble recovery in the Bulldogs' 48-38 of Jesuit. (RANDY ALLEN/THE RECORD)

Tracy football has a ton of talented players. That’s why they’re in their first Sac-Joaquin Section semifinals in well over 20 years.

So choosing a Player of the Game, from the No. 7 Bulldogs’ 48-38 upset of the No. 2 Jesuit Marauders in the Division I quarterfinals, was like pulling teeth. At least three or four different players could easily deserve it.

But in looking at all three phases of the game: offense, defense, and special teams, senior Jake Alvarado took it by a hair.

Alvarado, a Tracy senior, had touchdown runs of 4 and 25 yards, a 10-yard touchdown reception, a fumble recovery, solid defensive play throughout the day and a pivotal kickoff return early in the second half. And that’s why Alvarado, who also has eight interceptions on the season, is my Player of the Game.

Pound-for-pound, Bulldogs coach Matt Shrout told me after the first-round playoff win over Turlock, the 5-foot-7, 160-pound Alvarado may be Tracy’s best player. He certainly made a case for being up there Saturday afternoon.

HONORABLE MENTION

JOSH CLARKE (Tracy WR/CB, Sr.)

Clarke doesn’t always get in the newspaper, Shrout said, but he certainly found the limelight Saturday: with a 57-yard touchdown reception from Michael Brown on a deep post, and two, count ‘em two, blocked point-after kicks.

NATE JONES (Tracy RB, Sr.)

Jones, with Clarke and Alvarado, was another very strong candidate for player of the game, after taking 25 carries for 131 yards and two rushing touchdowns of 2 and 5 yards. He also had a 43-yard TD reception from Michael Brown out in the flats, racing to pay dirt.

He was a grown man, scoring the game’s final two touchdowns, and after the last one, walked back to the sideline stoically. That’s a bad man, in a good way.

ANTHONY KARJALAINEN and HAIDEN HALL (Tracy DLs, Srs.) 

Karjalainen batted a pass into the air as Hall intercepted it in Tracy’s 21-19 first-round playoff win over Turlock. And against Jesuit, Karjalainen batted a pass to himself for the game-sealing interception. A little before that, Hall forced a fumble for Jesuit on a 4th and goal from Tracy’s six, giving the offense a chance to win the game.

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St. Mary’s basketball highly-ranked in Cal-Hi Sports preseason list

Junior Kat Tudor will be instrumental for St. Mary's girls basketball, ranked second in Cal-Hi Sports' state preseason list.

St. Mary’s girls basketball was one of Northern California’s best last year, losing in the Open Division NorCal quarterfinals with a ton of underclassmen in tow.

Now, the Rams are ranked second in the state and first in NorCal in Cal-Hi Sports’ Preseason Girls Basketball Rankings.

St. Mary’s brings in highly-touted freshman Aquira DeCosta, and junior sharpshooter Kat Tudor, who’s received interest from across the Pac-12. Here’s Cal-Hi’s take on the Rams:

2. (9) ST. MARY’S (STOCKTON) 25-5*
The Rams return almost everyone and also have added incoming freshman Aquira DeCosta, the highest rated 2018 in the 2014 Girls of Summer Player Rankings and one of the best freshmen in the nation. The decision between St. Mary’s, Sierra Canyon and Chaminade for No. 2, 3 and 4 was razor thin and could change. Head coach Tom Gonsalves’ team lost in the NorCal Open Division semifinals last year and it was a group of almost all sophomores and freshmen. Leading returnees include junior sharp-shooting guard Kat Tudor plus athletic wings MiCole Cayton and Angel Johnson. Point guards Sierra Smith and Naje Murray are still just sophomores and both project to be D1 college recruits. St. Mary’s will be the top seed in the Platinum Division of the West Coast Jamboree.

St. Mary’s opens its season in a tourney in Hawaii Dec. 11-13 (after scrimmages and a section foundation game against Fairfield-Vanden Dec. 1), and hosts Sacramento-Christian Brothers Jan. 6 in its home opener.

Rams boys 33rd in preseason list

The St. Mary’s boys squad is scouted to be pretty darn good, too, by Cal-Hi Sports, at 33rd in their preseason list. Here’s the take on the Rams:

33. (40) St. Mary’s (Stockton) 27-3*
The Rams will miss Stockton Record Player of the Year Gabe Vincent (now at UCSB), but return enough talent to make a serious run at the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division II title. Lance Coleman II (6-5, Sr.) should improve his junior averages of 13.9 points and 7.2 rebounds while Devin Williams (5-9, Sr.) and Jacob Aruta (6-1, Sr.) form a formidable backcourt.

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We Meet Again: Tracy, Manteca to see familiar faces in playoffs

Tracy football's Nate Jones (right) embraces teammate Jason Nelson after last year's home playoff loss to Jesuit. (TRACY PRESS FILE PHOTO)

One thing’s for sure. Tracy football wants redemption. And Manteca wants to force history into repeating itself.

The Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs continue Friday and Saturday, as Divisions I-III are in the quarterfinal stage. No. 4 Manteca, last year’s Div. III champion, hosts No. 5 Sacramento Friday at 7 p.m. — the team it beat 49-6 in last year’s title bout.

Saturday at 1 p.m. up in Carmichael, just east of Sacramento, No. 7 Tracy faces No. 2 Jesuit in a Div. I quarterfinal. Last year, Tracy was the 4 seed, hosted No. 5 Jesuit in the quarterfinals and was beaten at home by three touchdowns.

Here’s a look at each of last year’s games:

Laurel, Buffs roll Dragons en route to fourth SJSCIF title

Alex Laurel, Manteca’s senior tailback — now at defending California state champion Butte College — took 22 carries for 169 yards and two touchdowns, including a 50-yard TD dash.

The Buffaloes recovered two fumbles, and Nick Gatehouse had two interceptions of the Dragons’ Caden Voges, who’ll likely start Friday for Sacramento. Hector Soto, now the featured senior tailback, then a junior, had a TD as well.

Marauders top Bulldogs at Wayne Schneider Stadium

Jesuit sacked Tracy five times and the Bulldogs lost two fumbles. Then-junior Nate Jones had 17 carries for 123 yards and a touchdown, but Jesuit poured out 295 rushing yards and four touchdowns.

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Friday Prep Football Predictions: Playoffs Part II

 

St. Mary's defensive coordinator Dave Tipton (back) prepares his defense for Friday's Sac-Joaquin Section Division II football quarterfinal with Rocklin. (CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD)

If 7-on-7 passing leagues in the spring and summer are the mediocre, appetizer salad of high school football season, then this stage of the playoffs is surely a $50 steak entree.

The Sac-Joaquin Section brackets continue Friday and Saturday, with quarterfinals in Divisions I-III and semifinals in Div. IV-VII. Last week, I went 9-1 in my opening-round predictions, to improve to 129-38 overall this year. That’s a winning percentage of .768.

I have my predictions for Friday and Saturday’s games, with eight local teams involved.

DIVISION I

No. 2 Jesuit over No. 7 Tracy

One of the reasons the Bulldogs (8-3) have been so good, is they’re versatile and can do everything well. But the biggest obstacle in advancing to a semifinal would be combatting a power run game the likes of which they haven’t seen yet.

And that’s probably Jesuit.

Junior Beau Bisharat dropped 320 rushing yards and two touchdowns last week in a shutout of Gregori. Tracy won’t allow that much, and senior speedster Nate Jones is going to get a touchdown or two, but it won’t be enough. The Marauders win in the ballpark of 28-17.

DIVISION II

No. 3 St. Mary’s over No. 6 Rocklin

This is going to be a barn-burner, and I don’t mean that sarcastically.

Cal Preps predicts the Thunder to beat the Rams 31-28, and that could be true. But I think St. Mary’s offense is clicking so well, and its underclassmen on the offensive line have improved enough, that the Rams will walk away with something close to a 34-31 win.

St. Mary’s defensive front seven holds strong in what could be iffy weather, Marcell Spady gets some key first downs and Noah Righetti keeps exploiting any press coverage with his lightning-quick receiving corps.

DIVISION III

No. 4 Manteca over No. 5 Sacramento

Dragons quarterback Caden Voges has 50 touchdown passes. Sacramento has the ire of losing by 43 to Manteca in last year’s Div. III championship. But that’s not enough for them.

The Buffaloes are at home, hitting their peak and their smashmouth football will be too much in the mud at Guss Schmiedt Field for the Dragons. Expect another heavy dosage of Hector Soto, who, last time he ran in a bad-weather home game, had 31 carries for 193 yards and two TDs.

Manteca gets it done, winning 29-22.

No. 2 Sierra over No. 10 Rio Linda

The Timberwolves poured out 69 points last week, and although their passing defense was reeling, yielding 470 yards through the air, this matchup plays more into their hands. Rio Linda’s Marcel Brown is a talented tailback and around a 1,700-yard rusher, but Sierra’s big boys up front can hold down the fort.

Expect a big game from Sierra’s senior wide receiver Hunter Johnson. Rio Linda should be highlighting Mark Paule Jr., who had 220 rushing yards and four TDs against Rosemont. Sierra wins 35-21.

MORE PICKS

No. 1 CENTRAL CATHOLIC over No. 4 Escalon (Div. IV)

No. 1 CAPITAL CHRISTIAN over No. 5 Ripon Christian (Div. VI)

No. 1 ELLIOT CHRISTIAN over No. 3 Brookside Christian (Div. VII)

*****

Remember, last week I came out with my division-by-division finalists and champions, too. Here they are for a refresher:

No. 1 Folsom over No. 3 Granite Bay (Div. I)

No. 1 Grant over No. 3 St. Mary’s (Div. II)

No. 1 Inderkum over No. 2 Sierra (Div. III)

No. 1 Central Catholic over No. 2 Sonora (Div. IV)

No. 2 Colfax over No. 1 Bear River (Div. V)

No. 1 Capital Christian over No. 2 Modesto Christian (Div. VI)

CCAA No. 1 Elliot Christian over SMAL No. 1 Delta (Div. VII)

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Email: tlawrence@recordnet.com

Phone: 209-546-8272

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Posted in High school football, High School Sports | Leave a comment
  • Blog Authors

    Bob Highfill

    Bob Highfill has worked in The Record's sports department since 1990. He has covered a variety of sports, including high schools, Pacific and professional sports. In 2006, he was named sports editor. Bob is a graduate of Lincoln High and the ... Read Full

    Scott Linesburgh

    Linesburgh has been a member of The Record's sports department since 1988. A native of Wantagh, N.Y., he has covered the Stockton Thunder hockey franchise since its inception in 2005 and has spent more than two decades reporting on motorsports and ... Read Full

    Thomas Lawrence

    Lawrence became a prep and general assignment sports reporter for The Record in August 2014. He has covered high school, college and professional sports and more in his career. From November of 2011 through summer 2014, he covered college and prep ... Read Full
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