by Will James
As if there wasn’t already enough storied history between two of the more recently established high schools in the Elk Grove Unified School District, Friday evening’s Delta League showdown between Monterey Trail and Franklin will surely add more heavy substance to the growing football tradition of these friendly foes who have waged famous battles since first engaging each other in 2010.
Access Sacramento‘s Game of the Week may be seen on Comcast cable channel 17, Consolidated Communications cable channel 17, and AT&T U-Verse channel 14. The game will also be streamed on AccessSacramento.org and the NFHS Network.
This live telecast marks the eighth meeting between the two neighboring schools beginning in 2010; a pair of start-up programs that have been assembled and developed with a stellar sense of pride by two of the most highly regarded coaches in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section.
Veteran Franklin Head Coach, Mike Johnson, and his #8 Wildcats (4-1) hold a distinct advantage in the overall series, having won five of the seven battles by decisive margins. However, T.J. Ewing’s 15th-ranked Mustangs (3-2), who won a wild 37-36 thriller in 2010’s inaugural meeting in 2010, and broke a five-game losing skid last year with a clutch effort that produced a 28-26 win.
Both Monterey Trail victories against Franklin have come on its home field; an advantage the Mustangs will not enjoy Friday evening. Franklin has already registered an impressive win over Grant in Week-4, before being edged 28-24 last week in the final seconds at Sheldon for its first loss of the season.
Monterey Trail executes the deceptive, run-heavy Veer Offense as well as any team in the SJS. Though rather one-dimensional with minimal passing production, the Mustangs create frustration and virtual havoc against opposing teams with it’s ball/clock control capability that remains one of the most impressive features of the Veer.
Junior QB, Zach Larrier is the trigger man for the Mustangs’ Veer. He has rushed and passed for better than 600 yards and 7 TD. Junior RB, Jehiel Budgett, has rushed and received for more than 600 yards and 5 touchdowns.
The Mustangs’ defensive line is sparked by Wayne Doroen whose 34 tackles include six for losses. The linebacker trio of Aztlan Lopez, Andrew Almonte, and Marcus Jones are excellent run-stoppers who have combined for 165 tackles.
The Wildcats also feature a run-dominated offense, which sophomore QB, Brandon Rundgren, has capably engineered thus far. Rundgren has fully utilized the outstanding rushing combo of seniors Daniel Ross and Jalen Lampley who have combined for 743 yards and 11 touchdowns. Despite drawing heavy coverage as the only notable Wildcats’ receiver, senior WR Brady Johnson is having an excellent season, averaging 18.5 on 13 receptions for 241 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Much of the attraction of this game is the unpredictability factor that generally produces generous portions of suspense, intrigue, and crowd-pleasing Delta league drama. This match-up easily falls into the don’t-miss-it category.