Breaking down our regional Friday night action
For high school football fans, Christmas come early in 2018.
The Aug. 17 opening weekend is the earliest start date in Sac-Joaquin Section history, and it promises several marquee matchups to begin the season, including an “irresistible force meets the immovable object” showdown between the Folsom Bulldogs, who have built a solid case for the section's Team of the 2010s, and the resident state heavyweight De La Salle.
While many eyes will be locked in on the aforementioned contest, the games that involve Placer County teams lack no luster.
Here’s a sneak peak at some of Friday’s Placer-area season-openers:
FRIDAY MATCHUPS (LAST YEAR’S RECORD), VARSITY START TIME
MONTE VISTA (4-7) AT GRANITE BAY (12-3), 7 P.M.
Defense of the Grizzlies’ Division II Sac-Joaquin Section title begins with the Mustangs of Danville, who in 2016 were the D-I North Coast Section champs. No stranger to tough competition, Monte Vista rides in the same league as De La Salle, but Jeff Evans’ squad is equally battle-tested and can hang with anyone, especially on home turf.
ROSEVILLE (1-9) AT BEAR CREEK, STOCKTON (3-7), 7 P.M.
Head coach Larry Cuhna enters his 26th season on the sidelines for the Tigers. The 2018 group, led by senior middle linebacker-running back Jordan Susbilla, will look to rebound from a forgetful 1-9 campaign in 2017. The addition of last year’s JV players, who went 8-2 while outscoring league opponents by an average of 25 points per game, will help right the ship.
RIO AMERICANO (6-5) AT WOODCREEK (2-8), 7:30 P.M.
Woodcreek is out of the gauntlet that is the Sierra Foothill League, but the Timberwolves will still have to prove themselves in the Capital Valley Conference. They will have a tough Week 1 challenge in the Raiders, a playoff team in 2017, headed by former NFL receiver and Granite Bay product Sammie Stroughter. Returning All-League quarterback Carter Krupp should provide some excitement for Woodcreek in 2018.
EL CAMINO (4-6) AT OAKMONT (5-5), 7 P.M.
The Vikings have opened up the last two seasons with wins over El Camino. Head coach Tim Moore, who is entering his 10th season on the sidelines for Oakmont, and company will look to rack up early W’s before what promises to be a competitive Foothill Valley League schedule begins in Week 7 at home against Lincoln.
ANTELOPE (10-2) AT ROCKLIN (7-5), 7 P.M.
There will be few opening weekend games that will be better than the one between Greg Benzel’s Thunder and Matt Ray’s Titans -- each team picking up Division II playoff victories a year ago. Quarterbacks Cade Wyant (Rocklin) and Nathan Lucero (Antelope) had similar numbers as juniors, and both will look to big tight ends, Charlie McBride (Rocklin) and Carter Sullivan (Antelope), for mismatches.
WESTERN SIERRA (7-4) AT SIERRA RIDGE ACADEMY, SAN ANDREAS (1-9), 1 P.M.
The Wolves ran through the Rams, 52-0, in 2017, when Aiden Lucia threw for 150 yards and two TDs while running in one more. Lucia is back for his senior year, and Greg Roeszler will make his head-coaching debut for Western Sierra Friday in San Andreas.
OAK RIDGE (11-2) AT LINCOLN (8-3), 7 P.M.
Lincoln’s 6-foot-5, 200-pound quarterback, Tommy Turner, can sling it with the best in the section and should build on his 2,465-yard, 28-touchdown junior season. It won’t be easy, but it would be a major statement if Chris Bean’s Fighting Zebras can topple the perennially playoff-bound Trojans at home in Week 1.
PLACER (13-2) AT PLEASANT GROVE (3-7) – AT SHELDON HIGH SCHOOL, 7:30 P.M.
2017 Pioneer Valley League Coach of the Year Joey Montoya’s Hillmen begin their 2018 season on the road against the ever-athletic Eagles from the Delta League. Placer defeated Pleasant Grove in last season’s opener, 49-30, as Brad Bishop and Chase Laguana-Scott combined for 27 tackles. Bishop also had two rushing touchdowns for the Hillmen, who return their entire starting offensive line.
FORESTHILL (3-7) AT TURLOCK CHRISTIAN (4-6) – AT HILMAR HIGH SCHOOL, 7 P.M.
Coach Steve Collier and The Wildfires are looking to make the nearly 150-mile bus ride to Hilmar worthwhile and avenge a 28-26 overtime loss to the Eagles a year ago. Collier said that junior quarterback Kaiden Pennington showed well at Foresthill’s scrimmage at Foothill High School last week.
BEAR RIVER (10-4) AT SOUTH TAHOE (5-5), 7:30 P.M.
There is no substitute for experience, and the Bruins have 13 starters returning from a Division V Sac-Joaquin Section title team for co-coaches Terry Logue and Scott Savoie. With Placer and Lincoln no longer in the PVL, Bear River has potentially its best shot to capture the program’s first league title since 2005. The Bruins have a dynamic backfield led by Calder Kunde and Tre Maronic, who also accounted for a combined eight takeaways last season.
GOLDEN SIERRA (3-7) AT COLFAX (9-4), 7:15 P.M.
Colfax will need to make up for the 3,105 yards and 38 touchdown passes from the graduating Ryland Heimann. The Falcons came up short in last year’s D-V section final against PVL rival Bear River, but Tony Martello’s flock will look to get back on the championship flight against a Golden Sierra squad that has fallen to Colfax in three of the last four years. Martello, by the way, is one win away from the 200 club.
DEL ORO (8-6) AT AMADOR VALLEY, PLEASANTON (7-5), 7 P.M.
The Golden Eagles always seem to find a way to win at the end of the season, don’t they? With just a 2-4 mark in the SFL a year ago, Del Oro fell one win shy of the program’s 12th championship – the second-most in the history of the Sac-Joaquin Section. Amador Valley is favored to win the East Bay Valley League this season, but if we’ve learned anything over the past few years, it’s don’t sleep on the Golden Eagles. Expect receiver-cornerback Dawson Hurst, quarterback Carson Jarratt and linebacker Tatuo Martinson to make major impacts for Jeff Walters’ gang.
So, strike up the band! Cheerleaders, get your pom-poms, and turn up the student section. Kickoff 2018 is here!