Rocklin readies for Del Oro with 49-14 win over young Roseville team

Thunder rolls for more than 500 yards
By: Jim Linsdau, Sports Editor
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With Roseville coming in at 1-7 Friday night, there was a chance the Rocklin High football team could suffer a letdown with Del Oro waiting in the wings in the final week of the regular season. However, Thunder head coach Greg Benzel said he didn’t think that would happen since it was Senior Night, and he couldn’t have been more accurate as Rocklin rolled to a 49-14 Sierra Foothill League victory.

Rocklin’s incredible flying circus went into overdrive to roll up 269 yards through the air and score three touchdowns in the first half alone. TD tosses went to Daniel Kniffin (22 yards), Dom Giampaoli (16 yards) and Cory Burmester (7 yards) – all seniors.

Running back Patrick Ryan sandwiched in rushing touchdowns of three and 17 yards for good measure as the Thunder went up 35-0 by halftime.

“(Passing has) been our plan the last couple of weeks, and it’s worked. So we decided to go with it again, and it worked again,” said junior quarterback Logan Webb, who was 16 for 24 for 230 yards. “We could have run on them all game, but it’s just been our mentality to come out and throw the ball and we’re good at it.”

Kniffin, who was replaced at quarterback when he separated his shoulder early in the season, also threw a pass on an end-around option play that was good for 39 yards and a near score.

In the third quarter, Webb again found Kniffin for a 29-yard TD strike and a 42-0 lead. Webb didn't throw the ball again.

That opened the door for senior Denzel Williams to flex his legs at running back. Normally a defensive player, Williams was given the pigskin 16 times and he gained 116 yards and capped Rocklin’s scoring with an eight-yard dash into the end zone near the end of the third quarter.

All that offense was complemented by another strong defensive effort by the Blue Thunder, limiting the Tigers to 52 yards through the air and 117 on the ground. Tigers sophomore running back Bryce Crouch had an eight-yard run for a score, and junior Isaac Carrel took one in from three yards out.

“We had our backup quarterback, and he did the best he could so that kind of put us a little bit behind,” said Roseville head coach Larry Cunha. “(Rocklin) is a very good football team. They executed very well, their quarterback played well, and their line blocked well; they’re just a better football team.”

Tigers’ junior quarterback Jonathan Lopez was 6 for 16 and didn't throw an interception. In fact, turnovers were few with Webb giving up one pick to defensive back Jose Rubio.

Benzel was pleased with his team’s play. He said he likes to run the ball, but with the passing offense he has, he feels it prudent to use it.

“When you have those types of weapons, it’s hard to run the ball,” Benzel said of his quarterback and receiving corps. “We could not have played any better. We had one drive in the second quarter where we had quite a few errors; otherwise, we were perfect in terms of execution."

Benzel said he was pleased with Willliams’ effort and that of junior running back Denzel Young, who had four carries for 48 yards.

Rocklin (5-4, 3-1 league) travels to Loomis on Friday for an SFL showdown with Del Oro (4-5, 3-1), a 45-35 winner over Nevada Union. Granite Bay is the only SFL team to have beaten the Thunder and the Golden Eagles.

Roseville matches up with crosstown rival Woodcreek (2-7, 0-4). Cunha told his underclassmen it’s the game that could get them off to a good start for next season, and to his seniors he said it's the last high school game they’ll remember.

Rocklin 49, Roseville 14

Tigers                 0          0           7        7 – 14

Thunder           14        21        14        0 – 49