Granite Bay to play in expanded Battle for Veterans

By: Bill Poindexter/Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
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While CIF State Bowl Games were bringing the 2011 high school football season to a close last weekend in Carson, Mark Soto was meeting with school officials from Westlake, Oaks Christian, Thousand Oaks and Oceanside, preparing for the start of the 2012 campaign.

The season-opening extravaganza, organized by Soto to benefit Wounded Warriors, will have a new name and carry over two weekends next August and September. And Granite Bay will be involved for the first time.

The former Battle at the Capital is now named the Battle for Veterans because the name “wasn’t going to work in L.A.,” Soto said Monday. “That makes more sense because when we’re calling people and talking with media, it just sounds better because it is a veteran cause. Battle for Veterans, we don’t have to explain it; people understand it.”

Del Oro again will be host for the first round of games during Week Zero, Aug. 24 and 25. The two-time reigning Sac-Joaquin Section Division III-champion Golden Eagles (13-2 this season) will play Westlake Village-Oaks Christian (11-3) on Aug. 24. Also returning is the Battle of the Badges between the Placer County and Nevada County Sheriff’s Departments.

On Aug. 25, Division I section champ Granite Bay (12-2) will play Westlake, Franklin (8-4) of Elk Grove will face Thousand Oaks (8-5), and youth football teams from Roseville and Granite Bay will play.

The Labor Day weekend calendar, to be hosted by Westlake, includes Division III section runner-up Oakdale (13-1) against Oceanside (9-3-1) and Del Oro vs. Westlake on Aug. 31. Del Oro lost to La Mesa-Helix 35-24 on Saturday in the Division II State Bowl Game, and Westlake (14-1) lost to Concord-De La Salle 35-0 on Saturday in the Open Division game.

“That place is going to be rocking that night, because you know Del Oro is going to bring it and Westlake is going to bring it,” Soto said.

On Saturday, Sept. 1, Granite Bay will face Oaks Christian, and Windsor, a next-door neighbor to Santa Rosa, plays Upland. Windsor, a North Coast Section champion, was 14-0 this season. Upland was 12-1.

The Battle for Veterans will include an evening of honor on each Thursday before the games. Soto said the special event will include a keynote speaker and stories from wounded vets.

Soto said he gets emotional when discussing the event.

“To know (the Granite Bay community is) supporting the thing with the wounded veteran cause, it’s hard not to get emotional,” he said.


When: Aug. 24 and 25 at Del Oro, Aug. 31 and Sept. 1 in Westlake Village.