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* Clean sailing - Six unbeaten teams remain in the mix: Franklin and Burbank in Division I, Folsom in D-II, Placer, Ripon and Arognaut in D-IV.
* Del Oro uprising - We cannot call Del Oro's 45-21 demolition of No. 2-seeded Yuba City in D-II an upset because Del Oro was so battle-tested from a murderous schedule. And kudos to the coaching staff and players from Yuba City who heaped praise on the Golden Eagles as a physical, skilled, well-coached lot, serving as a gauge for their own program.
* More DO - Del Oro running back Brandon Monroe is a new man with that healthy knee, and he's sprinted past or through his last three foes for 190 or more yards, including 225 and four first-half touchdowns against Yuba City. Next is a great test at St. Mary's-Stockton.
* First-time bruisers - As storied as these programs are with 13 combined titles and 61 total playoff wins, Escalon and Placer have never met in the playoffs until now. Placer's championship heyday in the 1970s and '80s was in D-II. Escalon has rolled for years in smaller divisions.
* Coaching rapport - Placer coach Joey Montoya said he and Escalon coach Mark Loureiro "are buddies," even though they haven't played each other. They have, however, met many times at clinics and wing-T camps. Wing-T gurus remain loyal to each other. Loureiro is one of the section's all-time winners and class acts. His teams have won eight section titles in 13 title appearances with a state crown in 2010 when, soaked with mud and rain, he barked, "This is for every public school in the state!"
He told James Burns of the Modesto Bee about Placer this week, "In my 23 years doing this, this Placer team ranks with the great Central teams, the Hilmar teams, the Hughson teams that I've gone against in the past. Some of the great teams in the history of those schools. Placer will tell you this is the best team they've had, too. This is an unbelievable challenge for our program. We know we're in deep."
* Browning patrol - Jake Browning of Folsom leads the state with 50 touchdown passes, the benefit of his accuracy, poise and drive, and his great offensive line, and his skill players such as Troy Knox and Phillip Carter. He now takes on Vacaville in a D-II game, with those Bulldogs from Solano County looking to run the ball to keep Browning on the sideline (we will have a SacBee story in print and online on Browning on Saturday). Folsom beat Vacaville in the playoffs two years ago, and Vacaville returned the favor in the D-II finals last season.
* Zwahlen watch - Second in the state with 46 touchdowns is Aaron Zwahlen of Downey, whose program won a playoff game for the first time since 1987 and now braces for the defense of defending D-I champion Granite Bay, featuring DE/LB brute Beau Hershberger.
* Bulldog Troy - True story: Vacaville has a play called a "Troy Taylor." It's not in honor of Folsom co-coach Troy Taylor, but rather a coincidence as it was named after a previous Vacaville player, with a slight tweak. Vacaville old timers still grimace at the thought of Folsom's Troy Taylor, from his Cordova quarterbacking days in 1985 when he powered the Lancers to a 17-7 Division I title win over Vacaville to cap the section's first 14-0 season.
* BC vs. A - * In another D-II game, Buhach Colony and Antelope feature physical lines with Aaron Cochran anchoring the trenches for BC and Daren Echeveria for Antelope. Cochran is a national recruit at 6-foot-8 and 340 pounds of Earth-moving terror, and Echeveria has allowed one sack and has 102 pancake blocks this season. He has an offer from the Air Force Academy, with interest from Nevada and Fresno State, among others.
* More DE - Echeveria consumes oncoming rushers and has triumphant McDonald's challenges, too. He recently scarfed down 50 nuggets, one chicken sandwich, fries, pumpkin pie and a milk shake in one setting. No total on burps recorded just yet.
* BC Backs - BC has three swift backs in Stefon Gold, Leon Miles and Jayce Webster who run the fly sweep. The only regional team that runs the fly sweep with continued playoff success is Granite Bay.
* Franklin D vs. Lincoln O - How a Franklin defense headed by William Vi, Marcus Green and Joey Banks deals Lincoln superback Justin Davis will be telling in a D-I game. Davis went for 311 yards and five touchdowns to blast Merced 52-7, an amazing team effort against a Bears team that beat Downey this season, and Downey beat Central Catholic, and CC beat St. Mary's, and St. Mary's lost 21-13 to state No. 1 De La Salle to offer a glimpse of how tight this all is. And Lincoln has QB ace Zack Greenlee, too.
* Trojans vs. 209 - Oak Ridge draws another 209 team in a D-I game. After beating Enochs-Modesto 49-21, the Trojans now welcome Pitman of Turlock, a team that was 10-1 and got clobbered in a D-I playoff against Pleasant Grove last season, speaking of Delta River League heavies. Oak Ridge is so balanced on offense, so strong in the trenches and so fierce with defensive end bruiser Zach Claiborne.
* Eagles vs. Titans - Pleasant Grove and Burbank on Saturday is shaping up to be a thriller, too, just like when the teams met in a spirited scrimmage on the eve of the season. I saw those teams square off way back in the heat of August and thought, "darn good clubs. Fast, physical, well coached." PG has Dre Terrell, Wyatt Demps and Isaiah Saunders to go against Isaiah Williams, Calvin Green and Ernest Jenkins. And the coaches are good friends - Joe Cattolico of PG and John Heffernan of Burbank. They will coach the South Optimist All-Star Game along with Franklin's Mike Johnson on Dec. 22 against the North, headed by Casey Taylor and Mike Alberghini.
* CO vs. AC - In D-III, Cosumnes Oaks plays at American Canyon, a newer school off to a 10-1 start and sporting one of the state's outlandish athletes in Oregon commit Chris Seisay. CO counters with running back Kaelin Willhite and receiver Alex Van Dyke.
* DA at DE - Also in D-III, Dedric Allen of Inderkum is in the midst of a terrific senior season as a defensive end with 94 tackles, 12.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, a safety - and two receiving touchdowns on offense. In a word: Stud. He'll be a mudder tonight at Sierra of Manteca and something called real grass.
* QB showdown - More D-III, the El Camino-Vista game should be a terrific show, with the quarterbacks alone. Jonah Lessard is a senior leader for El Camino and Matt Jimison has admirably stepped into a leadership role at quarterback for Vista. Both teams have unsung defenses, too.
* Center fears - Center's 42-0 wipeout over a good 9-1 Dixon team on Dixon's home turf is telling. The Cougars, remember, lost 15-14 to Placer in Week 10. Center has terrific team speed and will test it in the mud and muck at 11-0 Argonaut in D-IV play.
* Doppler patrol - Speaking of mud and muck, there will be none of it in any of the D-I, II or III games except one. Only Sierra of Manteca plays on real grass. Everyone else has synthetic turf. Every D-IV, V and VI game will be on natural grass, and rain will pound the section this weekend.
The Bee's Top 25
1. Franklin 11-0
Sluggish first half against Nevada Union, then turned on jets with running game, D
2. Folsom 11-0
Rolled Atwater behind 421 yards and 7 TDs by Jake Browning; great O-line play.
3. Elk Grove 10-1
Roared back to life with a resounding rout of solid Ponderosa team; D looks great.
4. Burbank 11-0
Titans survived slug fest with rival Grant; needed tough game after easy Metro romp.
5. Granite Bay 8-3
GB was 1-3 not long ago; rolling now with balance, D; take on 10-1 Downey passing.
6. Placer 11-0
Hillmen were clicking on all cylinders in devastating Hilmar; offense is back in gear.
7. Oak Ridge 10-1
Slow start, fast middle and fast finish for the Trojans; teams from 209 will despise OR.
8. Del Campo 9-2
Cougars last lost in heat of September to Elk Grove, 7 weeks ago; face EG next.
9. Del Oro 6-5
Bruising lines, run game, D were too much for talented Yuba City team; more tests loom
10. Antelope 10-1
Terrific effort to hold off loaded Rocklin for first home playoff win - ever.
11. Pleasant Grove 6-4
Eagles rallied to beat 9-1 Stagg behind do-all marvel Dre Terrell; now its 10-0 Burbank
12. Center 9-2
Steamed 9-1 Dixon 42-0 with speed, power, D; monster dark horse in D-IV.
13. Vista del Lago 10-1
Rolled Lincoln with scores on offense, defense, special teams; 10 straight wins.
14. Cosumnes Oaks 9-2
Alex Van Dyke looks the role of major recruit; run game, D impressed vs. CBS.
15. Yuba City 9-2
Honkers overwhelmed by rising-fast Del Oro; YC's best team since 1987 group.
16. Inderkum 9-2
Tigers haven't lost since Yuba City; now take on a 10-1 Sierra team with 209 return
17. El Camino 8-3
Eagles scored every which way in impressive rout of Sac for 1st playoff win since '93.
18. Rocklin 5-6
Lost thriller to Antelope; will return a ton of talent, including ace QB Logan Webb.
19. Whitney 8-3
Lost thriller to Del Campo with close losses to Rocklin and Antelope, too.
20. Grant 5-6
Lost battle royale at Bubank; return a ton of talent and elevate 10-0 JV stars.
21. Rio Linda 8-3
Lost at defending D-II champion Vacaville; lot of key players back for another run.
22. Capital Christian 10-1
Best start in school history continues; now face 10-1 Los Banos.
23. Nevada Union 5-6
Battled Franklin for a half before falling 35-14; great programs always return.
24. Foresthill 9-1
Opened D-VI field with a bye; favorites to win first such title.
25. Highlands 6-4
Held off Bradshaw Christian in D-V shootout; itching for title game.
Others: Ponderosa (6-5), Monterey Trail (5-5), Christian Brothers (6-5), Sacramento (8-3), Bear River (8-3), Dixon (9-2), Lincoln (5-5), Rosemont (6-5), River Valley (6-5), Davis (5-5).
Franklin 35, Nevada Union 14
Oak Ridge 49, Enochs-Modesto 21
Downey-Modesto 41, Bethel-Vallejo 6
Granite Bay 52, Napa 0
Pitman 49, Tokay 19
Pleasant Grove 22, Stagg-Stockton 21
Lincoln-Stockton 52, Merced 7
Burbank 26, Grant 19
Folsom 59, Atwater 12
Del Oro 45, Yuba City 21
Elk Grove 41, Ponderosa 0
Antelope 31, Rocklin 24
Buhach Colony 42, McNair-Stockton 14
Del Campo 34, Whitney 27
St. Mary's-Stockton 34, Tracy 6
Vacaville 35, Rio Linda 21
Vista del Lago 44, Lincoln 0
Oakdale 63, Pacheco-Los Banos 12
Sierra-Manteca 28, Rosemont 8
American Canyon 37, River Valley 8
Inderkum 30, Manteca 21
Benicia 27, Patterson 24
El Camino 39, Sacramento 14
Cosumnes Oaks 19, Christian Brothers 14
Placer 59, Hilmar 3
Argonaut 42, Hughson 14
Ripon 40, Amador 0
Capital Christian 41, Modesto Christian 0
Summerville 41, Los Banos 18
Central Catholic-Modesto 63, Bear River 20
Center 42, Dixon 0
Escalon 44, Calaveras 14
Highlands 60, Bradshaw Christian 41
Le Grand 50, Rio Vista 12
No. 1 Waterford, No. 2 Golden Sierra
Ripon Christian 42, Elliot Christian-Lodi 22
Big Valley Christian-Modesto 19, Woodland Christian 12
No. 1 Foresthill, No. 2 Brookside Christian-Stockton
Games at 7 p.m. unless noted
No. 8 Lincoln-Stockton vs. No. 1 Franklin at Cosumnes Oaks
No. 5 Granite Bay at No. 4 Downey-Modesto
No. 6 Pitman-Turlock at No. 3 Oak Ridge
No. 10 Pleasant Grove vs. No. 2 Burbank, 1 p.m.
No. 5 Buhach Colony-Atwater at No. 4 Antelope
No. 6 Del Campo at No. 3 Elk Grove
No. 15 Del Oro at No. 7 St. Mary's-Stockton
No. 9 Vacaville at No. 1 Folsom
No. 9 Benicia at No. 1 Oakdale
No. 5 Cosumnes Oaks at No. 4 American Canyon
No. 6 Inderkum at No. 3 Sierra-Manteca
No. 10 El Camino at No. 2 Vista del Lago
No. 8 Escalon at No. 1 Placer
No. 5 Los Banos at No. 4 Capital Christian
No. 6 Central Catholic-Modesto at No. 3 Ripon
No. 10 Center at No. 2 Argonaut
No. 4 Highlands at No. 1 Waterford
No. 3 Le Grand at No. 2 Golden Sierra
No. 4 Ripon Christian at No. 1 Foresthill
No. 6 Big Valley Christian-Modesto
at No. 2 Brookside Christian-Stockton
- Joe Davidson
- On Twitter: @SacBee_JoeD
- On TV tonight: Fox 40's Final Quarter to set up Del Campo-Elk Grove
- On Radio on Saturday: ESPN1320 from 9-10 a.m. with Mike Finnerty (linked later to ESPN1320.net)
- On Podcast anytime: ESPN1320.net with SureWest Sports Radio links and other features