November 26, 2011
Sizing up Friday night prep football playoff action and what it means and where we go from here

Some notes to ponder and consider after tonight's Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs...(and a reminder that we will break this down 10-fold on the SureWest Sports Radio Show on Saturday morning with co-host Mike Finnerty on ESPN1320 from 9-10)...

* The Sierra Foothill League and Delta River League showed just how good and deep they are, with four teams still standing and competing in section title games: Granite Bay vs. Pleasant Grove in Division I next Saturday, 1 p.m., Sacramento State; Folsom vs. Vacaville of the Monticello Empire League in D-II on Saturday, 7:30 p.m. at Sac State; Del Oro vs. Oakdale in a D-III rematch on Friday, 7:30 p.m. at Sac State.

* Granite Bay received a terrific and gutty effort from Brendan Keeney - 3 touchdown passes - to topple top-seeded Lincoln of Stockton 28-21, but the real story was a late defensive stand to turn back the Trojans inside the GB 3 with 1:26 to play. Keeney, slowed all week in practice with a tender hip from a helmet to his hip, hit Taft Partridge for two scores and Adam Wagner for another to put the Grizzlies into their first D-I title game (Granite Bay has won two D-II titles under coach Ernie Cooper).

Granite Bay was the No. 5 seed, but it wasn't your typical 5 seed as it was battle-tested from the rigors of the SFL. The Grizzlies have two losses, close affairs to Vacaville and Del Oro, and those team are still upright, so Granite Bay's win here was no great upset by any measure.

* Pleasant Grove trailed Bethel of Vallejo 13-0 in an instant, regroup and unleashed its forces to the tune of a 52-13 rout. Bethel was flagged four times for unsportsmanlike penalties down the stretch, a shame since Bethel had a banner season and came in sky high after toppling Grant 26-21.

Pleasant Grove's usual cast of characters played well, from Cody Demps, to Mark Jenkins to Desmond and Brandon Lewis, to Tyler Slavich, to D.J. Dunn, Arik Armstead and Marcus White. PG coach Joe Cattolico heaped praise on his next foe - Granite Bay - in what should be a great D-I showdown.

* Folsom trailed unbeaten No. 2 seed Elk Grove 14-0 after the first quarter and then Tanner Trosin took over. The senior amazes all foes and all fans, including an overflow gathering that jammed into Elk Grove. Folsom won 42-28 as Trosin passed for 377 yards and four scores and ran for 125 and one. J'Juan Muldrow had two touchdown catches, a touchdown run and dazzling 73-yard punt return for a score. Alex Wood led a spirited Bulldogs defense from his linebacking spot, and the Bulldogs are back in the section title game seeking a repeat.

* Trosin has passed this season for 4,778 yards, third best in state history and an all-time NorCal record, and he has run for 1,066 yards. He has 45 touchdown passes and 19 touchdown runs. Elk Grove players and coaches heaped praise, with Elk Grove coach Chris Nixon saying, "He's amazing."

* Elk Grove had a terrific bounce-back season, going from a total of eight wins in the last two seasons combined to a 12-0 start, testament to Nixon and senior leaders such as Matt Nugent, Steven Moore and Josh Letuligasenoa. Folsom was up for the task, however, scoring six touchdowns on a team that had allowed six all season coming in against its starters.

* Folsom was a No. 6 seed, but that's misleading. Its only losses were to Grant and Pleasant Grove.

* Vacaville got the rematch it so badly craved, against Folsom, bouncing top-seeded and unbeaten Buhach Colony 27-17. It was an amazing effort for the Bulldogs, who returned just one offensive lineman from last season but still ground teams away with their trade mark wing-T, with Melvin Mason and Curtis Goins reaching the end zone against Buhach.

* And coach Mark Papadopoulos is as classy as they come. Vacaville certainly will be inspired to erase the 75-6 shelling at the hands of Folsom last season in the playoffs in the driving rain. Folsom scored all of its points in the first half, a national prep record effort for a half.

* Del Oro beat Whitney in a D-III semifinal 38-0 with Nick O'Sullivan, Brandon Monroe, Bobby Heatherington and Tanner Huber playing wall, not to mention the entire defense. Whitney was without ace QB Jake Rodrigues, out with a broken leg.

* Del Oro of all the local teams has the best shot to secure a bowl game, needing a win over Oakdale to seemingly lock up a spot. The Golden Eagles have been top-ranked by Cal-Hi Sports/ESPN for the D-II bowl all season, and Del Oro's lone loss hasn't hurt. Westlake beat Del Oro early in double overtime, and with Servite losing Friday in the playoffs down South, Westlake now has a great shot to land the Open game.

* Pleasant Grove needed to have a rematch with Lincoln to really enhance its bowl chances (Folsom avenged a loss to Grant last year in the D-II title game and secured a bowl, deservedly so). The winner of the Granite Bay-Pleasant Grove game appears to be long shots to secure a D-I bowl game (the open bowl will forever be reserved for De La Salle as long as the Spartans play a national schedule and steam to section titles).

* The D-I bowl leading contender from the Bay is Bellarmine of San Jose, which has only a double overtime loss to De La Salle. If Bellarmine loses, then the gates open for PG-Granite Bay.

* Folsom coaches and players want another shot at a D-II bowl, but even an impressive win over Vacaville makes the defending D-II state champs a long shot, leaving us with this: Let's get these NorCal regional playoff games going NOW. Next season is when they start but it will be too late for too many teams this season.

* Oakdale beat Casa Roble in a D-III semifinal rematch, overcoming an early 10-point deficit to roll 42-23 despite 278 yards passing from Mitch Samson and 130 yards rushing from Kody Jones.

Casa Roble had 130 yards in penalties and told our good friend Brian Vanderbeek of the Modesto Bee that he wasn't too pleased with the officiating, "We had an official blowing kisses to (one of our) players after he threw him out. That's just wrong. Oakdale beat us, don't get me wrong."

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Bee staff writers Joe Davidson and Bill Paterson provide news, analysis and insight on the area high school sports scene in their Prep Blog. Have a question to ask them? Send them an email any time at jdavidson@sacbee.com or bpaterson@sacbee.com.

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