PREP FOOTBALL: Comebacks, upsets and big time performances highlight Section’s title games
The Sac-Joaquin Section’s football championships did not disappoint as there were close contests, dominant team efforts, big time individual performances, upsets and surprises across the seven title bouts. Here’s a breakdown of all seven championship contests:
D1: No. 2 Oak Ridge 35,
No. 5 Monterey Trail 27
Behind the impressive play of junior quarterback Justin Lamson, the Oak Ridge Trojans beat Monterey Trail to claim the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I football title.
Playing in the rain Saturday night at Hughes Stadium, Lamson rushed for a game-high 129 yards and three touchdowns, and also threw for 75 yards and another score in the win.
Monterey Trail, which beat defending champ and No. 1 seed Folsom in the semifinals, was led by junior running back Prophet Brown (105 rush yards, 153 receiving yards, 4 total TDs).
The Section title is the fourth for the Trojans.
Oak Ridge (11-2) has now won eight straight games and will host Friday’s D-1AA NorCal Regional Bowl Game against Central (Fresno).
D2: No. 6 Elk Grove 35,
No. 9 Whitney 0
The Thundering Herd rolled over the Wildcats with ease in the D2 title game. As a team, Elk Grove ate up 465 yards and scored five touchdowns on the ground. Leading the charge for the six-seeded Herd was senior Carter Harris, who rushed for 218 yards and four touchdowns on just 19 carries.
Whitney never reached the end zone, and only mustered 89 yards rushing and 164 through the air in the loss.
It’s the sixth Section title for the Thundering Herd program, and first since 2001.
Elk Grove (10-4) will now hit the road for Friday’s D-2AA NorCal Regional Bowl Game at Clayton Valley Charter (Concord).
D3: No. 4 Manteca 33,
No. 2 Placer 14
After battling Placer closely in the first half of the D3 championship game, Manteca scored 20 unanswered points in the second half to grab the program’s seventh Section title.
Leading Manteca to D3 glory was Trabron Russell, who rushed for 226 yards and four touchdowns. Buffaloes defensive back Andy Alvarez’s 87-yard interception return for a touchdown in the second half was also key.
Manteca (11-2) will now travel to face McClymonds (Oakland) Saturday in the D-2A NorCal Regional Bowl Game.
D4: No. 4 Sierra 22, No. 2 Oakdale 19
After falling behind 19-7 at halftime, the Timberwolves from Sierra (Manteca) scored 15 straight second half points to upset Oakdale in the D4 title bout.
Sierra quarterback Shane Johnson pulled his team to within one score with a rushing touchdown in the third quarter. He then put his team ahead for good with a touchdown pass to Nyco Mendoza late in the fourth quarter.
For Sierra, the Section championship is the program’s second.
Sierra (11-3) will now host Rancho Cotate Saturday in the D-3A NorCal Regional Bowl Game.
D5: No. 2 Ripon 21, No. 1 Center 13
Behind a stellar defensive effort, strong play from quarterback Nico Ilardi and 14 unanswered fourth quarter points, the Ripon Indians upset top-seed Center in the D5 championship game Saturday afternoon.
Ilardi threw for 179 yards and a touchdown, running back Danny Hernandez rushed for a pair of scores and Ripon’s defense did the rest.
Coming into the game, Center’s high powered offense was averaging 43.5 points per game behind the play of their dynamic quarterback Michael Worthem. But, Ripon held the Cougars in check and brought home its second Section title in school history.
Ripon (12-1) will now host Sutter Friday in the D-4AA NorCal Regional Bowl Game.
D6: No. 1 Escalon 41,
No. 2 Hilmar 27
After falling behind 20-14 in the first quarter, Escalon found its stride and outscored the Yellowjackets 27-7 across the final three quarters to win the D6 Championship Saturday.
Escalon dominated on the ground, getting big games from Kaden Christensen (149 rush yards, 3 TDs) and Luke Anderson (119 rush yards, 2 TDs).
The victory gives Escalon its ninth Section championship.
The Cougars (12-1) are on the road Saturday for the D-4A NorCal Regional Bowl Game against Pleasant Valley (Chico).
D7: No. 2 Mariposa 17,
No. 1 Denair 14
Mariposa got it done with a field goal off the foot of Nathan Kunz in overtime.
The win for the Grizzlies send them home with their first section title in school history.
Mariposa (8-4) will now face off with Lincoln (San Francisco) Friday in the D-7AA NorCal Regional Bowl Game.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4232.
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