By Will James
Home Town Sports Game-of-the-Week
The Sierra Foothill League has long been considered the most competitive league in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section, and with good reason. The imposing presence of five elite programs packed into the seven-team league is impressive, if not intimidating. Perennial SFL heavyweights include Del Oro, Folsom, Granite Bay, Oak Ridge, and Rocklin. All five teams occupy positions in this week’s Dimino’s Dozen, the weekly high school football rankings compiled by Hometown Sports Game Analyst, Jim Dimino. Nevada Union and Woodcreek complete the SFL’s seven-team alignment.
In recent years, the Capital Valley Conference has made a case of its own to claim the distinction of being the toughest conference in the SJS. Five of its seven teams — Antelope, Cosumnes Oaks, Del Campo, Roseville, and Whitney — are legitimate contenders and are currently rated among the Top-17 teams in this week’s Dimino’s Dozen weekly high school football rankings. Bella Vista and Ponderosa round-out the unfortunate underdog teams in the CVC.
However, the ever-dominant Delta League, which like the SFL has merged its two Delta Divisions into one, and now stands as tough as any league in the entire SJS. With their reputations among the local football community having preceded them, Elk Grove, Franklin, Grant, Jesuit, Monterey Trail, Davis and Sheldon form a Delta League line-up that reflects an aura of virtual invincibility amid its collection of playoff caliber teams that presently occupy five spots in this weeks Dimino’s Dozen high school football rankings. Also-ran spoilers Davis and Pleasant Grove complete the Delta membership, which brings us to this week’s story.
Access Sacramento’s television crew is primed to make a first-hand evaluation of Delta League superiority this week, and travels to Elk Grove for Friday evening’s telecast of the Sheldon Huskies vs. Franklin Wildcats clash at Cosumnes Oaks High School.
This live telecast may be seen on Comcast channel 17, on Consolidated Communications channel 17, and AT&T U-Verse channel 14. The game will be replayed Saturday morning at 11:00 a.m, and again Tuesday evening at 7:00 p.m., and may be seen on the same channels. The game will also be streamed from AccessSacramento.org and the NFHS Network.
Two of the many intriguing highlights of this match-up are the impressive credentials and career accomplishments of two of the most highly regarded head coaches in the entire CIF Sac-Joaquin Section.
Franklin Head Coach Mike Johnson is in his 14th campaign with the Wildcats where he has led them to a pair of Delta League crowns in 2009 & 2011. And before arriving at Franklin, Johnson guided Lincoln/Stockton to the SJS D-1 Championship in 2000 with a 35-28 overtime victory at UOP against heavily favored Elk Grove.
Johnson and his 15th-ranked Wildcats should appreciate playing on their shared home field at Cosumnes Oaks H.S.. Franklin began the season with three impressive victories. However, Friday they’ll bring a 3-1 mark into the contest after having been dismantled 56-0 by Grant last week.
Franklin needs a victory to even its Delta League record, and will rely heavily on an offense that predominately features its running game that produces more than 200 yards per game. The passing attack chips in with slightly more than 100 yards per game. Until last week the ‘Cats offense had been considered explosive, averaging 45 points per game. through its first three games before being blanked by the Pacers.
Sophomore QB Nico Regino has completed better than 50% of his passes to account for 6 TD and just 1 int. Regino has three excellent receivers including Juniors Brady Johnson and Jalen Lampley, and Senior Tariq Glenn. This trio has totaled 14 catches for 301 yards.
The Wildcats rushing attack is keyed by 3-year starter and 2-way (FB/LB) player, Kaderro Tamondong, who averages 7.5 yards per carry with 2 TD. Three outstanding Juniors provide a deep stock of RBs for the Wildcats. Taejon King, Lampley, and Zack Upshaw have motored for 459 yards. and 8 TD.
LB Tamondong is Franklin’s top tackler with 42 stops in four games. Defensive linemen Joaquin Quenga, Eugene Lopez, and Christian Joyner-Hill, and DBs Marriye Shephard and Ryan Ortez are important run-stoppers for the Wildcats.
After eight highly successful years as the Pleasant Grove Head Coach and a 2-year hiatus from the coaching lines, Joe Cattolico returns to the sidelines as head man for the Sheldon Huskies. His impressive resume while guiding the Eagles includes four Delta League titles and a 2010 SJS D-1 Championship.
Cattolico has returned and is on a mission, opening the season with 4-straight wins including an impressive 27-22 victory over Monterey Trail last week. His career W-L record is 77-25.
The Huskies score at a rate of 45 points per game, with an excellent balanced attack that totals 250 yards. per game on the ground, and 173 yards per game in the air. Senior QB Chancellor LaChapelle leads the way with nearly 700 yards. passing and a completion efficiency of 78%, while throwing 7 TD with just 1 Int.
RBs Graylon Lindsey, Vonathan Allen, and Alex Cook have combined for nearly 900 yards. rushing with 9 TD. Cook is a double threat as a WR, who teams with Izaiah McFalls and Brandon Erwing to form a solid trio that has clicked for 26 receptions totaling more than 650 yards and seven TD.
The Huskies unleash a stingy defense that allows just 14 points per game. The Sheldon defense has come up with six takeaways, having recorded four interceptions, two fumble recoveries plus eight sacks. Defensive lineman Ravontae Holt, LBs Erwing, Oscar Gutierrez, and Allen, and DB Cook are the Huskies’ leading tacklers, recording more than 150 stops.
With these two coaches in place, motivation in abundance, and a high level of emotion swirling around the stadium Friday evening, this game will draw a major crowd, and should reflect heavy intensity and an atmosphere of playoff magnitude. This one will be a real show.