Familiar faces battle it out for Sac-Joaquin Section championships
After 14 weeks of bone-crunching hits, mind-blowing runs, incredible catches and last-second scores, the Sac-Joaquin Section football title games are set.
The Division I and II games will take place on Hornet Field at Sacramento State with the Division I game at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and the Division II game being held at 7:30 p.m. Friday. The Division III and Division IV championships will be decided at Spanos Stadium at Lincoln High School in Stockton. Division III plays at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Division IV plays at 1 p.m. Saturday.
The Division V and VI title games are already in the bag with Le Grand (12-0) claiming its fourth straight D-V title, a 20-13 victory over Golden Sierra. In the D-VI championship, Bradshaw Christian (10-2) beat Ripon Christian 35-28 to notch its second section title in three years.
The remaining matchups feature many of the usual suspects with a combined 46 section titles among the eight teams vying for section titles, but there is a newcomer to the party. Sacramento High School is the lone team left without a previous section trophy. In fact, the Dragons had not won a playoff game in their 157-year history before making this season’s improbable run to the section championship.
Here are the matchups:
No. 1 Folsom (13-0) vs. No. 3 Oak Ridge (12-1)
For the first time since 2010, the D-I title will go to someone besides Granite Bay. Folsom is the favorite and looking for its second straight section title after winning the D-II title last season.
The Bulldogs enter the game undefeated, riding the arm of junior quarterback Jake Browning. The 6-foot, 2-inch pigskin slinger has thrown for a state record 69 touchdowns, completing 77 percent of his passes for 5,093 yards.
Oak Ridge is back in the title game after losing to Granite Bay last season and enters with only one loss this season, a 35-0 drubbing by fellow Delta River League program Folsom. Oak Ridge has a balanced attack with sophomore quarterback Ian Broom throwing for 2,411 yards and 30 touchdowns and senior Josh Wellman racking up 769 rush yards to lead a rush attack that has more than 2,000 yards combined.
Both Folsom and Oak Ridge will join the Sierra Foothill League next season.
No. 1 Del Oro (11-2) vs. No. 3 Elk Grove (12-1)
Del Oro is back in a title game for the first time since 2011 when it won the D-III title. Last season, the Golden Eagles lost to Elk Grove, 35-32, in the D-II semifinals. The Thundering Herd then went on to lose to Folsom in title game.
Del Oro comes into the game on a 10-game win streak, having not dropped a game since a Sept. 20 loss to undefeated and nationally ranked (18) De La Salle.
The Golden Eagles do it through the air and on the ground, averaging 35.2 points per game. Senior quarterback Michael Moore has thrown for 2,057 yards and 24 touchdowns, and senior tailback Dylan Kainrath amassed an SFL-high 1,534 rush yards and 23 rushing touchdowns.
Elk Grove isn’t without a stud running back though, as the Herd have Wadus Parker. The 5-foot, 9-inch speed back leads the Herd with 1,670 yards and 24 touchdowns. Parker may lead the Herd’s run-heavy offense but is far from their only threat. Elk Grove has tallied 3,639 yards, and scored 49 touchdowns on the ground this season.
No. 2 Manteca (12-1) vs. No. 5 Sacramento (11-2)
The purple Dragons of Sacramento are in uncharted territory, but that’s where they have been for most of this postseason. Entering the playoffs Sacramento had zero postseason wins to its credit. Now, it has three and counting. The Dragons (11-2) tallied wins over Benicia, last year’s D-III champ Oakdale and Christian Brothers in the playoffs and have yet to be held to fewer than 41 points in the postseason.
The Dragons average more than 500 yards of offense a game and are led by sophomore quarterback Caden Voges with 4,139 yards passing and 47 touchdowns. Sacramento also runs the ball well as a team, totaling 2,531 yards and 30 touchdowns on the ground.
Manteca is a run-happy offense led by senior Alex Laurel with 1,630 rush yards and 32 scores on the ground. The Buffaloes have a total of 56 rush touchdowns and 3,478 yards rushing as a team. Manteca throws less than it runs, but when it throws it is efficient. Senior quarterback Joe Menzel has 24 touchdowns to just five interceptions this season.
No. 1 Central Catholic (12-1) vs. No. 2 Hilmar (13-0)
Central Catholic, the defending section and state champion in D-IV, has just torn up the competition on its way back to the title game. In the Raiders’ three playoff games this season, they have outscored their opponents 170-34. The closest contest was a 57-27 second-round shootout victory over Colfax. Central Catholic is a run-heavy team with a strong defense and even better special teams. The Raiders are led by Matt Ringer with 2,017 rush yards and 31 touchdowns but have many options and score in many different ways.
Hilmar, the 2011 D-IV champion, hangs its hat on the defensive side of the ball. The Yellowjackets allow just 9.8 points per game this season, while their offense hangs an average of 33.4 points per game. Hilmar is led by senior linebacker Joseph Bello with 125 tackles. As a team, Hilmar has 50 sacks, led by Bernardo Duran (14 sacks) and Robert Lindo (13 sacks). The Yellowjackets also have 20 interceptions as a team coming from 13 different players.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Stats courtesy of MaxPreps.com.
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