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PREP FOOTBALL

Roseville improves to 9-1 with win over Oakmont

Tigers grind out 300 yards on the ground with Razzano and McMinn to round out impressive regular season
By: Steven Wilson,
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Taking the field for their final regular season game, in front of a packed crowd, and playing against their rivals from Oakmont, it was Roseville High’s senior class that stepped up their game.

Nearly all of the 27 upperclassmen, who were honored before the game, helped the Tigers earn a 41-21 victory over the Vikings to improve to 9-1 this season and take a four-game win streak into the postseason. 

Led by their two senior running backs, Jay Razzano, who accounted for 210 yards and two scores, and Brendan McMinn, who added 92 yards and two more touchdowns, the Tigers pounded the rock and let their defense do the rest. 

“The mindset coming in to tonight was to get to 9-1, and get a chance to host a playoff game,” senior linebacker Josh Bamford said after the game. “All year, we’ve been saying, ‘Defense wins championships.’ And that’s what we’re on the run for — we want to win a championship and we know where that starts.”

That defense, which was strong again Friday night, has been stellar all season. In fact, the team ranks first in the CVC allowing just 169 points to league opponents through seven games — two less than second-place Antelope and almost four touchdowns less than the third-best defense.

The Tigers’ defense can also score. 

Thanks to a fumble recovery from senior Jimmy Jaggers and ensuing toss to fellow senior Hayden Simpson, the Tigers’ defense closed the door on Oakmont’s comeback in the fourth period. After a low snap and Jaggers’ pressure, Simpson got the ball and scampered 43 yards to pay dirt to put his team in front by two scores with less than two minutes left in regulation.

“The quarterback dropped the ball on the snap, so I went for it,” Jaggers explained. “I pushed him over, but he got a hand on the ball, so I couldn’t tuck it away. Then Simpson came in and said, ‘Give me the ball. Give me the ball.’ So I tossed it to him and he took it to the house.”

Simpson’s touchdown capped an impressive win for Roseville over a much-improved Vikings squad in a game that was much closer than the score suggested. 

Through two quarters, neither team could pull away. 

After Razzano put Roseville on the board with an 18-yard touchdown run in the first period, the Vikings used an end around to bust receiver Erik Holmsen into the secondary as he took the ball 74 yards to the house to tie the game.

“I always look for the cutback in case we don’t seal the edge,” Holmsen admitted. “And we didn’t get the edge, so I just hit the cutback and there was a huge hole.”

Roseville struck again in the second period, this time through the air. Quarterback Nick Martig let one fly and found Josh Clark for the 34-yard score to retake the lead, 14-7. But Oakmont stormed right back and capped an eight-play drive with a nine yard touchdown run to the pylon from Angelo Valdez. 

“Because of rankings and records, we tend to get other team’s best shot,” Cunha confessed. “Oakmont was playing to get into the playoffs and we were playing to hopefully host a playoff game. They definitely gave us their best shot.”

McMinn added a late score on a three-yard plunge to give Roseville a seven-point advantage at halftime, but Oakmont didn’t go down quietly. The Vikings came out of the locker room fired up and the pads were popping in the second half. 

There were a handful of big hits, penalty flags and plenty of trash-talking from both sides.

“We still have that old-school rivalry, it’s still a physical contest every time we meet,” Oakmont’s coach Tim Moore stated. “Coach Cunha and I know that. We’ve kept this crosstown rivalry alive, even when we weren’t in the same league.”

When Roseville took a two-score lead in the third period, Moore’s team answered back a few minutes later. The Vikings signal caller Jake Knapp, who was under duress all night, took a big late in the third but found his tight end Eric Yeager wide open for a 15-yard touchdown to pull his team within seven. 

“We started off a little slow, but we put up a good fight,” said fellow tight end Connor Gagain, who had two catches for 43 yards in the game. “I was proud of my guys in the first half. We were ready to play and we had that drive — we wanted to make playoffs.”

But every time Oakmont closed the gap, the Tigers dialed up run after run to methodically march down the field and score. 

With their quarterback sidelined (ankle injury), the team rode McMinn and Razzano and the duo combined for over 300 yards on the ground and sealed the win.

“That’s a very good Roseville football team,” Moore added. “They play well into their strengths. They have an outstanding line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and they do an excellent job of making that a focal point of their team. When you win the line of scrimmage, you win football games. That’s something we’re working on — we have four sophomores starting on our offensive line.”

Although the Vikings are young up front, they’ll miss their talented senior class next year, including their starting quarterback, tight end, wideouts, running backs, and a few linemen.  

“This was an outstanding senior class,” Moore acknowledged. “Our goal was to get to playoffs. We thought 5-5 would get us there this year; it’s got a lot of teams to the playoffs over the years. It’s just, this year, it didn’t. This group of boys deserve to play 11 weeks — they deserve one more game.”

Instead, it’s the Tigers getting at least one more week of action. 

Roseville discovered its next opponent Saturday afternoon. The Tigers, who earned the No. 7 seed in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoffs, will host Vacaville Friday night at Hanson Field.

“This was a great win,” Cunha added. “But we’re looking forward to the playoffs. We're happy to be hosting a game and play another big one at home."