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Unbeaten Thunder prepare for Atwater

Friday’s game moved to Whitney High
By: Russ Edmondson The Placer Herald
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Rocklin High’s undefeated football team will battle Atwater in a second-round playoff game Friday night. This Sac-Joaquin Section, Division II battle will be played at Whitney High instead of Rocklin because of poor playing conditions on Rocklin’s grass field. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Rocklin (11-0) is a No. 2 seed in the DII playoffs while Atwater (8-3) is a No. 10 seed. The Thunder beat No. 15 Elk Grove 35-7 Friday night and Atwater advanced by beating No. 7 Stagg 18-13. The winner of Friday’s game will face the winner of the contest between No. 3 Grant (11-0) and No. 6 Fairfield (9-2) in the DII semifinals on Dec. 4. If the game is between Rocklin and Grant then it will be played on a neutral field that is yet to be determined. Rocklin senior receiver Kyle Garvella is O.K. with the Thunder missing out on a home game this Friday night against Atwater. “We heard about it at the end of practice (Monday) — our field is not playable so we wanted to move it to turf. Better footing for everyone,” he said. “There are some guys (on the team) that wanted to keep it at Rocklin — keep our routine the same. But the coaches decided it would be better to move it to Whitney.” Garvella says he and the Thunder are not looking ahead to a possible match-up with the unbeaten Grant Pacers. “They (the Rocklin coaches) have kept us focused on Atwater – just one game at a time,” Garvella said. “(Atwater) obviously must be pretty good to get to the second round.” Quarterback Nathan Sanchez is a star for Atwater. The senior is the team’s leading rusher (70 carries, 757 yards, 11 touchdowns in regular season) and has completed 62-of-129 passes for 1,204 yards, 12 touchdowns and five interceptions. His favorite target is Giovanni Dalmaso (20 catches, 429 yards, four touchdowns). Brian Sevilla is effective running the ball (63 carries, 419 yards and seven touchdowns) and a star on the defensive line (leads team with 14 sacks and 58 tackles). Atwater’s stats do not include the playoff game against Stagg. The Thunder went 4-6 last season but have a shot to get to 12-0 on Friday night. “It’s a blast — compared to last year it’s night and day how much more fun this is,” Garvella said.