A closer look at the latest Bee Top 20 prep football rankings and sizing up each team as league play looms. A note to our readers, fans, loyalists and, yes, the trolls, too: if you suggest a team that should be in the Top 20, then tell us who comes out, and why.
The Bee's Top 20
1. Pleasant Grove 4-1
Routed previous No. 8 Roseville 63-14 with superb showing on all facets. Loss was to Lincoln-Stockton by a point in double overtime. Leaders include Mark Jenkins and Arik Armstead, unselfish and eager to impact games.
League outlook: This is your clear Delta River League favorite. Yes, Folsom is the defending champion but consider how Folsom had to hold off Roseville 61-49 and how PG handled Roseville. The DRL is stacked with PG, Folsom, Oak Ridge and Sheldon. Pleasant Grove opens against Ponderosa.
2. Del Oro 4-1
The Golden Eagles pounded Oakmont 60-20 with Bobby Heatherington passing for four scores. Only loss was to state-ranked Westlake in overtime. Leaders include Heatherington, Zach Heath, Alex Bertrando and others.
League outlook: The defending co-champions of the Sierra Foothill League with Granite Bay appear to be the early favorite here as it has played the best of the SLF lot that includes Granite Bay, Nevada Union, Roseville, Rocklin and Woodcreek. Del Oro opens at Rocklin on Oct. 7.
3. Elk Grove 5-0
The Thundering Herd jumps here above other teams because they have played the best of that lot and just beat previous No. 3 Nevada Union in Grass Valley 23-7, with the Miners scoring only on a fumble recovery. The defense has pitched three shutouts and allowed one offensive touchdown against the starting unit. Leaders include Steven Moore and Matt Nugent.
League outlook: A sudden serious factor in the Delta Valley Conference because of line play, run game, defense and coaching. It's all there for a title run. DVC includes Grant, Monterey Trail, Franklin, Laguna Creek and Davis. Elk Grove opens against Grant on Oct. 7.
4. Grant 2-2
The Pacers needed this bye week to regroup, reassess and return to some semblance of order and health after the wheels fell off the ambulance in Stockton with the rout at the hands of the Trojans. Leaders include Shaq Thompson and Jonathan Iulio. Losses were to state-ranked No. 4 Long Beach Poly and to Lincoln.
League outlook: Grant is targeting a repeat in the Delta Valley that suddenly looks deeper than ever with Elk Grove, Franklin, Monterey Trail, Laguna Creek and Davis. Open at Elk Grove on Oct. 7.
5. Folsom 3-1
The Bulldogs needed a bye week to get healthy with a host of players on both sides of the ball sidelined with strains, bumps, bruises and swelling. A healthy Folsom team makes for an extremely dangerous outfit. Loss was to Grant 43-16 after leading 16-7 at the half. Leaders include Tanner Trosin, Alex Wood and J'Juan Muldrow.
League outlook: You don't have to be Vince Lombardi to understand that the DRL will come down to Folsom and Pleasant Grove again. The league also has contenders in Sheldon and Oak Ridge. Next is a game at Casa Roble that should end well past curfew.
6. Granite Bay 3-1
The Grizzlies used the bye to rest, heal and to address a run defense that was gouged in its loss at always-loaded Vacaville. The leaders include three-year starters Gavin Andrews and Brendan Keeney.
League outlook: The SFL is again a monstrous collection of talent with Del Oro, Roseville, Rocklin, Woodcreek and Nevada Union. GB tied Del Oro for the title last season. Next game is at Pittsburg and then against Nevada Union on Oct. 7.
7. Nevada Union 4-1
The Miners fell at home on homecoming night to Elk Grove 23-7 as they could not contain the Herd's ground game. The Miners didn't have quarterback Kyle Cota in the second half due to a concussion. He has been superb in the early going. Leaders include brothers Hank and Gabe Humphers and Josiah Paye
League outlook: The Miners started last season 4-1 and then lost every SFL game, an agonizing stretch made all the more difficult since the setbacks were all close. NU fully expects to win the SFL this time, outlasting a lot that includes Del Oro, Granite Bay, Roseville, Rocklin and Woodcreek. Open at Granite Bay on Oct. 7.
8. Oak Ridge 3-1
The Trojans had a bye to rest up. Only loss was at Del Oro when the Golden Eagles pulled away in the second half. Next is a nonconference finale against Fairfield. Leaders are Preston Dean and Dylan Collie.
League outlook: Oak Ridge likes its chances in the DRL because of balance and physical line play. Next game is against Fairfield and then Sheldon.
9. Franklin 3-1
The Wildcats got back on track after suffering setback to Freedom of Oakley, ripping Jesuit 35-6. Franklin went mostly with a run game and loved the results. Expect more. Defensive leaders include Nathan Di Donato and Jordan Owensby. Next is a game against Tracy and then Davis.
League outlook: Wildcats played for DVC title last season and lost to Grant. Those teams face off in Week 10, but other contenders loom earlier, including Elk Grove. Open DVC play at Davis on Oct. 7.
10. Placer 3-1
The Hillmen will continue to roll as long as the wing-T is in high gear like it was in steaming Woodland 60-20. Leaders include the linemen, led by Eddie Vanderdoes. Loss was a shootout to Casa Roble.
League outlook: The Pioneer Valley League again will go through Placer, Bear River and Colfax in one of the top leagues in the section.
11. Whitney 3-1
The Wildcats bounced back from their loss at the state-ranked No. 1 team in Idaho by belting CBS. Whitney has terrific leadership in Jake Rodrigues and Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick and will learn from the humbling loss out of state.
League outlook: Whitney seems to be the clear favorite here, but remember Antelope won the title with a late win against the Wildcats last season. Play against Woodcreek on Friday.
12. Monterey Trail 2-2
The Mustangs have their vaunted veer in gear now with back-to-back routs. Losses were early to Pleasant Grove and at Nevada Union when Mustangs held Miners to 49 yards rushing. Next is Inderkum in another speed test. Leaders are Lorenzo Hawkins and Sterling Powell.
League outlook: The Mustangs had Grant on the ropes last season in the DVC that looks even deeper now with Elk Grove, Franklin, Laguna Creek and Davis also showing good early signs.
13. Sheldon 3-2
The Huskies showed tremendous resolve after losing to Elk Grove, driving 99 yards in the final moments and scoring with no time left to beat 3-0 Laguna Creek 22-21. Leaders include Nate Iese, Davon Chapple and Josh Hadley. Losses are to Franklin and Elk Grove. Next is a bye.
League outlook: The DRL - ever heard of it? - will again go through Pleasant Grove and Folsom, but upsets happen. Take last year when Sheldon beat Oak Ridge. Those teams open DRL action on Oct. 7.
14. Bear River 5-0
The Bruins do one thing especially well: defend. The best win so far was beating a Woodcreek team that was averaging 54 points 24-10. Bear River also has strong line play and balance, led by leader James Harris.
League outlook: The PVL will again be a great 3-way tussle with Bear River, Placer and Colfax. Bear River opens against Placer on Oct. 7.
15. Roseville 3-2
The Tigers are smarting from the 63-14 loss to Pleasant Grove, convinced it is a much better team than it showed. Leaders include Zac Cunha, Casey Lambert and McCory Ledesky. Losses are to monsters in Folsom and Pleasant Grove.
League outlook: The beauty of the SFL is teams can establish themselves in a hurry with results here. How Roseville responds from the PG loss will be telling. Open against Woodcreek on Oct. 7.
16. Woodcreek 3-1
The Timberwolves had a bye to shore up all units after suffering loss to Bear River. There is leadership in Shaun Mize and Stephen Nogosek and some impact defenders.
League outlook: Woodcreek has never won a league title but to a man, the Timberwolves like their chances. Open against Roseville on Oct. 7.
17. Casa Roble 3-1
Rams beat Rio Americano in warm-up act for anticipated shootout game against Folsom this weekend. Leaders include Mitch Samson, Tyler Young and Frankie Patalano. Loss was shootout to Woodcreek.
League outlook: For the past nine seasons, the league in which Casa Roble and rival Del Campo were in was decided between those teams. It could happen again, though Rio Linda, Bella Vista and Oakmont will have a say.
18. Colfax 4-0
The Falcons, enrollment 850, outlasted Davis, enrollment 2,800, in 48-40 shootout that Falcons led big early. Balance makes this is very dangerous team. Leaders include Austin Young and Hunter Perez. Next game is against North Section power Wheatland.
League outlook: Colfax is aiming for the PVL title in a scramble that includes Placer and Bear River. It won't be a boring race here. Open PVL play against Center.
19. Burbank 3-1
Titans are rejoicing over opening of new on-campus stadium - a palace - and the potential of this team to cruise from here. Leaders include Reymond Norton and a host of defenders. Loss was to Grant.
League outlook: The Metro League is Burbank's to dominate. The Titans are more skilled, deeper and faster than anyone in the Metro. Play Sacramento next.
20. Cosumnes Oaks 3-2
The Wolfpack was collectively numb after bidding a tearful farewell to one of their, a JV player who died last week from an asthma attack. The potential is there to make a major run right to the section title game. Losses are by hair to Sheldon and to Union Mine.
League outlook: River City is the defending champion with Union Mine and Vista del Lago also looking to win this thing. Open at Galt.
Others: Inderkum (3-1); Rocklin (3-2); Del Campo (3-2); Rio Linda (3-1); Laguna Creek (3-1); Pioneer (4-1); River City (4-1); Union Mine (2-2).