ENCORE PRESENTATION: Roseville & Granite Bay extend the show
As one of only two football teams entering the playoffs this year with a sub-.500 record, the Granite Bay Grizzlies have their work cut out for them this postseason.
The No. 11 seed in Division II, Granite Bay finished fourth in the SFL and qualified for the playoffs by beating Nevada Union, Woodcreek and Rocklin in each of the last three weeks.
“We’ve treated the last couple of weeks as playoff games, so this is nothing new to us,” Granite Bay’s coach Jeff Evans said. “But now that we’re in, we feel like we can do some damage.”
The Grizzlies will take on No. 6 seeded Grant Friday night as two of the most experienced playoff teams meet on the gridiron for the second straight season.
Granite Bay (45) and Grant (76) — two teams separated by just 16 miles — have combined for 121 playoff games in their storied postseason careers. These teams have met in the playoffs three times, including the Grizzlies’ only win in the series last year in a second round, 24-21 thriller.
But this year’s matchup features two different squads.
The Grizzlies stumbled to a 1-6 record out of the gates and finished 4-6 in the regular season. But they did preserve their impressive 18-year postseason streak and could take solace in the fact that Del Oro (4-6 in 2015) won the D2 state championship last year with the same record.
Granite Bay has won five section titles — the last one coming in 2012. Meanwhile, the Pacers placed fifth in the Delta League and have made the playoffs for 26 straight years – tops in the SJS. Grant has won seven blue banners, with the last one coming in 2014. These teams have met three times in the postseason, with Grant enjoying a 2-1 advantage after beating the Grizzlies in 2005 and 2008.
Back home, the 9-1 Roseville Tigers host No. 10 seeded Vacaville tonight at Hanson Field. The Bulldogs placed second in the Monticello Empire League to return to the postseason after missing last year. Before that, Vacaville had made the playoffs nine years in a row, a stretch that included two championships (2006, 2011).
The No. 7 seeded Tigers finished second behind unbeaten Antelope (10-0) in the Capital Valley Conference and enter the postseason riding a four-game win streak. But history is not on the Tigers’ side.
Roseville has lost ten of its last 11 postseason games, with that one win coming back in 2008. In fact, one of those losses came to Vacaville, back in 2011 in a 54-34 decision in the first round.
But the Tigers are hungry to reverse that fate.
Nearly all of team’s 27 upperclassmen helped the Tigers earn a 41-21 victory over the Vikings to close out the regular season and finish 9-1 — the team’s best record in over a decade.
Led by their two senior running backs, Jay Razzano, who accounted for 210 yards and two scores against Oakmont, and Brendan McMinn, who added 92 yards and two more touchdowns in that game, the Tigers pounded can pound rock. They also have a stellar defense.
“The mindset coming in to senior night was to get to 9-1, and get a chance to host a playoff game,” senior linebacker Josh Bamford said last Friday night. “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 finished the regular season 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.
If defenses do win championships, then both of the local teams have a shot at the section title this season.
PREVIEWS & PICKS:
GRANITE BAY (4-6, 3-3 SFL) at GRANT (7-3, 4-3 Delta), 7 p.m.
Players to watch:
Granite Bay: QB Jade Foddrill (10), OL/DL Tank Tonda (65), OL/DL Will Craig (74), Evan Tattersall (9), RB/S Chris Osby (28), WR Brad Jones (6), TE/DE Alex Martinez (5), FB/LB Drew Yeargin (32)
Grant: RB/CB Tyree Marcelle (3), WR/DB Lawrence Hardy (5), QB Cameron Davis (4), WR Quay Mitchell, SS/WR Nate Thomas (11), MLB Angel Novey (44), T/DT Orlando Umana (50), OL/DL Bartholomew Tei (58)
Offenses: No team in the section may be better at finding running lanes than Grant. The Pacers have notoriously boasted some of the section’s best running backs and this year is no different. The Grizzlies will need to stop senior ball carrier Tyree Marcelle (1,298 yards and 14 TD’s) if they hope to win this game. They will also need to keep speedy wideout Lawrence Hardy double covered if they hope to avoid a repeat performance from last year when Hardy burned the Grizzlies for all three of his team’s scores. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies offense needs a few more big plays from junior quarterback Jade Foddrill, who is getting his first start in the playoffs.
Defenses: Granite Bay is fresh off two big-time defensive performances, including a second-half shutout two weeks ago against Woodcreek. But this week, the Grizzlies must slow down an offense averaging nearly 200 yards on the ground this year. Keep an eye on Granite Bay’s defensive line (Will Craig, Tank Tonda, Dylan Smith and Brandon Vavao) as they try to plug holes and slow down Marcelle and co. Also look for Grant’s leading tackler, linebacker Angel Novey (99 total tackles) and watch the Pacers’ defensive backs. Nate Thomas and Lawrence Hardy each have four picks this season.
Prediction: Granite Bay 30, Grant 28
ROSEVILLE (9-1, 6-1 CVC) vs. VACAVILLE (7-3, 4-1 MEL), 7 p.m.
Players to watch:
Roseville: QB Nick Martig (16), TE/DE Jimmy Jaggers (82), RB/S Brendan McMinn (32), RB Jay Razzano (23), WR/CB Jeriah Crawley (25), WR Josh Clark (11), NG Hayden Simpson (22), LB Nico Andrada (52), LB Josh Bamford (6)
Vacaville: RB/CB Daniel Wright (23), FB Gunner Bagos (43), WR Jon Donaldson (15), QB Troy Claunch (10), RB Tim Jackson (11), OLB Toven Steele (40), MLB Jacob Abramowicz (42)
Offenses: The Bulldogs own the second-best scoring offense (188 points) in five Monticello Empire League games this year, but the top-ranked offense (366 points) overall. Much like Roseville, Vacaville runs the ball downhill, a lot. They’ve used just about everyone and they pound defenses until they find a weak spot and then they exploit it. Roseville employs two of the league’s top backs in seniors Jay Razzano and Brendan McMinn. Together, they’ve accounted for 24 touchdowns and over 1,400 yards. But thanks to big-time playmakers at tight end, wide receiver and quarterback, the Tigers can throw the ball downfield, and they can do it well. When Nick Martig has time to survey the field, he can dissect a defense.
Defenses: Roseville’s defense will need to clog holes on the defensive line and wrap up ball carriers on initial contact. Not too many offenses have figured out how to beat Roseville’s defense, especially in the second half of games this season. But if the Bulldogs can get loose in the secondary, the Tigers will be in for a long night. On the other sideline, look for Vacaville to key in on Razzano and McMinn. Roseville’s run game is key to their success, and if the Bulldogs can’t slow them down then they won’t be playing next week.
Prediction: Roseville 40, Vacaville 24