Tigers improve to 7-1 with key league win over Wildcats
Making a statement in front of their home crowd and putting the rest of the Capital Valley Conference on notice, the Roseville High football team hit the field Friday and handed previously unbeaten Whitney its first CVC loss this season.
The Tigers leaned heavily on senior running back Jay Razzano, who amassed 222 yards on the ground and scored two second-half touchdowns, and their defense, which forced a pair of late interceptions to seal a 35-14 win in the battle for second place.
“Jay ran tough down the stretch to get us some yards and put the game away at the end,” Roseville’s coach Larry Cunha admitted. “I was very pleased — we were physically able to control the line of scrimmage on both sides, and that wins ball games late in the season.”
The win gives the Tigers a 7-1 record this season and a 4-1 mark in league play with just two games remaining. If Roseville is able to win each of those contests — at Ponderosa (10/28) and vs. Oakmont (11/4) — the Tigers could be eligible to host a playoff game in the first round.
“Being 7-1 is a great, great accomplishment with the schedule you’ve played to this point,” Cunha relayed to his team after the win. “But hey, you have to be hungry the last two weeks. Our goal has to be 9-1 each of the next two games. If we get there, we’re going to defend this house.”
The Tigers, who are 3-1 at home this season, rushed for over 300 yards Friday night and scored three touchdowns on the ground. Brendan McMinn had the team’s first before Razzano got going in the second half. The two senior backs averaged 7.8 yards per carry and helped their team seal the win.
“Roseville is a good football team,” Whitney’s coach Paul Doherty admitted. “They had a great gameplan for us and executed it better than what we were trying to do to them. They’re a big, physical football team and they were able to run the football all night long.”
When the Tigers did air it out, they found mixed success.
After throwing two interceptions earlier in the second quarter, Roseville’s quarterback Nick Martig led his team down the field in a two-minute drill before halftime and found his tight end for the go-ahead touchdown with 33 seconds on the clock. Jimmy Jaggers got open on the play and hauled in the pass with one hand before adding a two-point conversion on the next play to give his team a 14-7 lead at the break.
“They really hurt us with time of possession,” Doherty acknowledged. “They kept our defense on the field for 110 or 115 snaps, and when it was time to make plays (they made them) — they found their big tight end for a touchdown to close the first half and that’s just them making more plays than us to win the game.”
Although Friday’s contest was predicted to be a shootout between two of the best offenses, it was the defenses that stepped up.
The Wildcats had a pair of interceptions in the second quarter on back-to-back plays after a pick from Chad Campbell was returned to the goal line and fumbled for a touchback. Roseville regained the ball, but threw another interception on the following play.
“We’ve been leaning on our defense all year and they’ve been lights out,” Doherty acknowledged. “We’re young on offense, but when you have a kid like that, Chad Campbell makes an interception and tries to scores, we need that.”
The Wildcats couldn’t score on that drive as the Tigers’ defense showcased what they could do when called upon. Roseville also forced two interceptions late in the game — one from linebacker Nico Andrada and the other from corner Joseph Flores — as the Tigers defense held Whitney to its lowest point total of the season.
“They have a complex passing attack, so we had four or five schemes in place and there were times when we confused them,” Roseville’s defensive coordinator Phil Ringer explained. “We took (their quarterback’s) main read away and he had to go to his second and third read, but a lot of the time once he got to his third read we were on him.”
With a seven-point lead in hand, Martig added his second touchdown pass of the game in the third period as he found Colton Borowiak on a wheel route down the sideline for his first TD catch of the season.
“On the previous play, Josh went over to our coach to tell him he was getting doubled, so the very next play we did a little slant/wheel combination and had him on the outside and they both just bit on Josh and I was able to get open and Nick threw a good ball,” Borowiak said.
Although he didn’t have the prettiest game, Martig put together a decent stat line as he finished 11-of-24 for 121 yards, two scores, two interceptions and a fumble.
“There is always stuff to work on, but at 35-14 and sitting at 7-1, and we’ve played most of the playoff contenders now, I think we’re in good shape,” Cunha acknowledged. “We still have to go play a couple more, but I thought we showed a lot of improvement, especially on the defensive side of the ball, so we will see what happens as we come down the stretch.”
The Tigers will hit the road once more to face Ponderosa Friday night before returning home to play Oakmont on senior night.