Round II of the Sac-Joaquin Section football playoffs included some fireworks after the dust settled, and none of it was pretty. Let's hope Round III this weekend produces good showings on the field during play - and afterward when the coaches march across to shake hands.
Coaches from Franklin of Elk Grove and Del Campo seethed at how their foes declined to take a knee late in games that were close and became routs, and it certainly has everyone curious to see how games and reactions take play from here.
Franklin coach Mike Johnson (left), well regarded locally and known for his good demeanor over the years, couldn't understand why top-seeded Lincoln of Stockton would keep passing deep with a 28-point lead late instead of just running it off tackle in a Division I quarterfinal last Friday. Lincoln punched in one last score with just over two minutes to go for a 56-27 final score. Lincoln led 21-14 at the half.
Johnson told local media after the game that he was impressed with the Lincoln players - their talent, their drive - but was disgusted with the Lincoln coaching staff. He felt Lincoln was trying to pile it on, never mind that Johnson was the head coach at Lincoln a decade ago and that Franklin assistant coach Jim Rubiales worked the Lincoln sideline for three decades as coach.
"Our fans will walk away with a real dislike for (Lincoln)," Johnson told Jon Gudel of the Elk Grove Citizen regarding Lincoln. "But the (Lincoln) kids did nothing wrong. The coaches are the problem. They don't honor the past. This should be a grand game of hugs and handshakes at the end. Not with those guys."
What set Johnson off was a deep pass to the Franklin 3-yard line with just over two minutes to play, setting up one last touchdown dive.
"You don't see the good coaches in this area do that," Johnson told Gudel. "Joe Cattolico (of Pleasant Grove) doesn't do that. (Mike) Alberghini (of Grant) doesn't do that. Tony Franks (of St. Mary's-Stockton) doesn't do that. Those are the good coaches. (Lincoln coach Brian Gray) has got a lot to learn."
Gray dismissed all of it as Franklin sour grapes, calling Johnson "classless" for his complaints. Lincoln now plays host to Granite Bay in a semifinal.
* And DC and BC - In a D-III game last Friday, top-seeded Buhach Colony broke away from a close game to prevail 28-7 in moving to 12-0.
Del Campo coach Mike Dimino said he could concede that Buhach was the better team, but he was turned off by how Buhach went for an onside kick late. Dimino shared his frustration with Buhach coach Kevin Swartwood and said that Buhach has been too good of late to pile on, that there's nothing wrong with kicking off - or taking a knee.
I can understand Dimino expressing concern to Swartwood, but what was out of line was Del Campo assistant coaches engaging in shouting matches. Leave the furor to the head coach.
"What the heck is wrong with that team?" Swartwood said to Merced Sun Star reporter
Shawn Jensen. "That's the most classless school I've ever seen."
Predictably, fans from both sides engaged in a lot of online finger pointing in the following days. Del Campo fans on chat forums and in e-mails and calls to The Bee insisted Buhach players and coaches were out of line, saying players and fans taunted Del Campo players and fans. Buhach fans countered on these same forums and in e-mails that it was the Del Campo fans and players who could use a lesson in sportsmanship.
* Proper perspective - One thing we do know for certain: any claims that other area coaches in the region pile on scores in an effort to impress any state section commissioners in terms of bowl selections is way off. We have fielded complaints - and the chat forums, too - that Cattolico of Pleasant Grove has been running up scores. The same has been said of Chris Nixon of Elk Grove and Casey Taylor of Del Oro. That is absolutely not true for any of these coaches.
Cattolico, Nixon and Taylor have cleared their benches early in routs. They have not gone to the air late in games, or hardly at all in the second half of routs.
And none of these coaches concerns himself with bowls, certainly not to the extent of having to pile on for style points.