Del Oro takes down Woodcreek to clinch SFL title
The atmosphere was charged with tension as the Del Oro High football team beat Woodcreek 35-12 on Friday night.
Woodcreek (5-5 overall, 1-4 SFL) was aiming for a Sac-Joaquin Section playoff berth, while Del Oro (9-1, 5-0 SFL) was after the outright Sierra Foothill League title, and a perfect league season.
As the Golden Eagles went into the third quarter with a sturdy 21-6 lead, the Timberwolves continued to fight back. The intensity escalated after a couple of sacks on Woodcreek senior quarterback Shaun Mize, who punched Del Oro senior lineman Ashwin Cardenas on the ground before being ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Mize said the high-intensity competition of football just got to him.
“Everybody was flying around. They were being physical, we were being physical,” Mize said. “Our team didn’t back down. We just didn’t execute to our potential.”
Cardenas said he was just doing his job as a defensive lineman when the personal foul was committed against him, though with the intensity of the game he didn’t blame Mize.
“For a lot of these guys this is their last football game ever,” Cardenas said. “I don’t blame him.”
Cardenas said the Timberwolves have been a tough opponent in the past, so the Golden Eagles knew they couldn’t relax their play during the last game of the regular season.
“Two years ago, we were ranked like No. 1 and they beat us,” Cardenas said. “We go over our plays together thousands of times. We do walkthroughs that are 40 minutes each. We constantly are repeating the plays.”
Cardenas said he has gotten to the point with neighboring senior lineman Tanner Huber that he can anticipate what step he will take next.
“We are just in-tune,” Cardenas said.
Golden Eagle senior quarterback Bobby Heatherington was also right in-step. He was 8 for 13 passing, for 117 yards. He added a 5-yard running touchdown.
Senior running back Nick O’Sullivan lit up the field with 16 carries for 104 yards and three touchdowns. O’Sullivan and junior running back Brandon Monroe set a new Del Oro rushing record. This is the first season two Golden Eagle running backs have both rushed over 1,000 yards.
Mize helped put Woodcreek’s first touchdown on the board with a pass to junior Stephen Nogosek late in the first half.
Nogosek stepped in at quarterback for Mize after he was ejected. He had a touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Jake Hassell in the fourth quarter.
Woodcreek coach John Hildebrand said with both teams after an important win, tensions were high.
“I think a lot of it was we were in a do-or-die situation against a very good team,” Hildebrand said. “We were going to have to play our best and then some to win.”
Hildebrand said Mize, Nogosek and sophomore running back Mitchell Layton were all standouts for Woodcreek.
“I thought Stephen was amazing at making plays,” Hildebrand said. “Our defense really was working and actually played pretty well.”
As Del Oro moves forward into playoffs with a 9-1 record and another Sierra Foothill League championship to its credit, the Golden Eagles are looking forward to tackling their next goals: a Sac-Joaquin Section Championship and a shot at the state bowl game.
Cardenas said the tight-knit group is ready to taste more victory together. It’s also the friendship on the team that may give the Golden Eagles an edge, even over their past teams.
“I think really the camaraderie is a lot better,” Cardenas said. “We all go to each other’s houses. We are all bros.”
Reach Sara Seyydin at firstname.lastname@example.org.