Not bad for such a young bunch.
Behind a cool-under-fire sophomore quarterback and a host of underclassmen on offense, Vista del Lago kicked off the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs with a resounding 44-0 triumph of Lincoln on Thursday night in a Division III opener.
Seeded second in the D-III field opposite of field favorite Oakdale, the Eagles of Folsom won their 10 consecutive game with offensive balance, an unyielding defense and a big special teams play, doing so in conditions that suddenly felt like winter. It was 84 degrees in practice on Monday and still warm on Wednesday. It was coldest prep night of the year here as fans huddled in blankets and didn't seem to mind shelling out $2 for a cup of hot cocoa to restore blood flow in their bodies.
After falling in a season opener to Oak Ridge - rolling along in D-I at 9-1- Vista made a quarterback change, going from a senior to Matt Jimison. It's been all systems go ever since.
Jimison scored on a 3-yard run, hit Brad Rittenhouse for a 12-yard touchdown and Colin McCargo for a 9-yard strike for a 27-0 halftime lead against the Zebras of the Pioneer Valley League.
Junior running back Josh Pfeffer made it 41-0 with a 50-yard touchdown sprint, and Andrew Schantz returned an interception 8 yards for a touchdown. For kicks, Andrew Mintz drilled five PATs and a 28-yard field goal to account for the final score.
Vista (10-1) also has superb senior leadership, particularly on defense. Defensive end Chris Grunsky blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown for a 20-0 lead, and he had two sacks. He goes by "Bear" - and his last name seems perfect for a guy who lives in the trenches.
Linebacker Nick Rametta and defensive lineman Evan Ewey have been senior anchors for a still evolving Vista program that is only six varsity seasons old and is off to a school-record best start.
"We play a ton of young guys," Vista coach Chris Jones said. "They're young and they're pretty good. Our defensive leaders like Nick and Evan and Bear - they've carried us."
Jones said he went with Jimison early this season because he liked the young man's poise and skill set.
"Got all the confidence in the world in him," Jones said. "He has that quality about him, that 'it.' We started to play at a different level with Matt in there for us and hit a new gear. The guys believe in him, and he's got the results."
Jimison has passed for 2,144 yards and 34 touchdowns this season. He has just six interceptions.
Vista coaches will scout their next opponent on Saturday when Sacramento plays host to El Camino in a toss-up game that could be in swampy, muddy conditions. The winner of that game plays at Vista next Friday night.
Lincoln finished 5-6. The Zebras qualified as the 64th and final team in the postseason, earning an at-large berth on the strength of their opponents winning 51 games. Ten of those wins belong to Placer, which needed a last-second field goal to beat Lincoln 10-7 on Oct. 19.
Bee fiile photo by Brian Baer: Quarterback Matt Jimison of Vista del Lago
- Joe Davidson
- On Twitter: @SacBee_JoeD
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