By Will James

Hometown Sports Game of the Week

GOTWlogo_pngWe have reached Week-10 of the regular season for high school football in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section and the Sacramento region.  It’s a significant measurement marking a point in time when most teams have little or no hope of making the playoffs to extend their season.   

But contending teams playing in elite leagues like the Sierra Foothill League, the Capital Valley Conference, and Delta League, relish the opportunity to validate their supremacy, particularly when championship ramifications are attached to the contest and the league title is on the line.  

Such is the case in the imposing Sierra Foothill League.  Three of the top-five ranked teams in the SJS — #1 Folsom, #2 Oak Ridge, and #4 Del Oro; the defending CIF D 2-AA State Champions, are bunched near the top of the rankings.  Moreover, counting #14 Rocklin, four of the top-14 teams in the latest SJS top-20 rankings all reside in the Sierra Foothill League.  

Access Sacramento announcers Will James (left) and Jim Dimino on the sidelines of Cougar Canyon at Del Campo High School.

Access Sacramento announcers Will James (left) and Jim Dimino on the sidelines of Cougar Canyon at Del Campo High School.

To help ensure that football fans in Sacramento County have an opportunity to see this gridiron battle, Access Sacramento will televise this highly anticipated duel on the Hometown Sports Game of the Week.  This live telecast may be seen Fri. Nov. 4 beginning at 7:00 p.m. on Comcast Cable channel 17, Consolidated Communications channel 17, and AT&T U-Verse channel 14.  The game will be re-played Sat. Nov. 5 at 11:00 a.m., and Tues. Nov. 8 at 7:00 p.m. on the same channels.  The game will also be streamed on AccessSacramento.org, and the NFHS Network.     

This marquee match-up will be presented at Folsom‘s Prairie City Stadium where attendance estimates range between eight thousand and eleven thousand.  Based on the magnitude of its attraction, some local media reps have declared this colossal confrontation as the game of year.  

Oak Ridge has won four SJS championships since 1998, but none under current head coach, Eric Cavaliere, whose teams have twice been defeated in the SJS title game in the past four years.  In direct contrast, Folsom’s Kris Richardson has guided the Bulldogs to five SJS championships since 2010 including titles in each of the past thee seasons.  Both teams enter play with identical 8-1, 5-0 records.

Oak Ridge Quarterback Marco Baldacchino

Oak Ridge Quarterback Marco Baldacchino (Courtesy: Folsom Telegraph)

Oak Ridge quarterback Marco Baldacchino leads the Trojans’ balanced offense. The junior signal-caller has passed for 15 TD, rushed for 13 TD, and accounted for nearly 2000 yards in total offense.  RB Michael Pittman adds an important dimension to the offense while rushing for more than 700 yards.  A deep receiving corps featuring Truman Andrus, Cameron Stone, Austin Eastman, and Justin Poerio will pose a significant threat to the Folsom secondary.

On defense, the Trojans have accumulated 23 sacks and gathered 27 takeaways.  Defensive linemen Parker Blomquist and Kyle Brown, and linebackers Andrus, Nate Otto, and Davis Lang have combined for nearly 400 tackles.

Folsom Quarterback Joe Curry [Courtesy: Hudl.com]

Folsom Quarterback Joe Curry [Courtesy: Hudl.com]

On the flip side, Folsom Sr. QB Joe Curry has run the Bulldogs’ offense masterfully.  He’s passed for more than 2500 yards with 36 TDs and just 5 interceptions, and boasts a quarterback rating of 133.4. Davin Simmons and Brandon Rupchock headline the ground game which has produced 21 rushing touchdowns.  Drake Stallworth, Erik Davis, and Joe Ngata lead a deep rotation of receivers who have combined for more than 2700 yards.

On defense the Bulldogs have registered 35 sacks, 6 interceptions, and 10 fumble recoveries.  Brad Jenner, Shawn Johnson, Drew Holt, Tanner Ward, and Ezra Gulewich anchor a stingy defense that allows just 18 points per game.     

The stadium will be packed Friday evening, to be sure.  With this in mind, fans are encouraged to depart for the game extra-early and arrive at the stadium extra-early.  Without an early arrival it seems unlikely that fans will have any success buying a ticket or finding a decent seat to occupy. 

A key intangible element lies beneath the surface of this game, which marks the 14th meeting between the teams since 2004.  Oak Ridge won the first three meetings.  Since then, Folsom has won the next 10 straight meetings; an interesting fact that is sure to add another dimension of motivation for both teams.  

Considering the respective locations of the schools situated at higher elevations in Folsom and El Dorado Hills, and their proximity to each other, it’s appropriate to describe this game as an epic battle to determine who’s the king of the hill.