by Will James
If there is ever a regal playoff match-up of opponents that feature explosive offenses and strangulating defenses, it’s Friday’s CIF-SJS Quarterfinal D-2 collision between the 5th-seed Sacramento Dragons and 4th-seed Del Campo Cougars.
Del Campo #21 Greg Cabral runs 31 yards for a TD earlier this season on Game of the Week.
Boasting outrageous statistical dominance on both sides of the line of scrimmage, the visiting Dragons (10-1, not counting three forfeit losses) and host Cougars (11-0) square-off in an ultra-high profile attraction in Fair Oaks for what may very well be one of the best playoff battles this season, in any division.
The forfeit losses not withstanding, Joe McCray‘s Dragons are formidable, and qualify as Sacramento High School’s best football team of the new millennium. Sacramento’s lone on-field setback came at the hands of the virtually invincible and top-ranked Folsom Bulldogs; a 28-19 setback in a fierce non-league battle waged in September.
The 9-point separation is the closest any team has played against Folsom this season; a victory the undefeated Bulldogs were not able to clinch until the final minute.
Sacramento Quarterback #12 Derek Shelton
No other team in the playoffs has more team speed than the Dragons. Senior QB Derek Shelton has engineered a flashy, high octane offense with poise and proficiency. With Shelton blending a premium passing attack with an explosive run game, the Dragons average 46 ppg.
Shelton’s 61% passing efficiency totaling 2535 yards, includes 39 TD passes. Shelton’s favorite targets — Anthony Bradley
, Juwan Tanner
, and Daunte Moore
— are dynamic big play receivers who have combined for 101 receptions, 1916 yards and 33 TD. Shelton’s passing fancy is beautifully complimented by RB’s Jamie Cousey
and Javon Felton
; a pair of true speed merchants who have totaled 1439 yards and 20 TD.
Perhaps more daunting than its offense, is Sacramento’s defense. This rampaging outfit has systematically ravaged all eleven opponents thus far, including Folsom. Led by Linebackers Inoki Waqavesi, E.J. Haag, Cousey, DE Kyron Smith, and DB Bradley, the Sac defense has registered a staggering 8 shutouts. Amid this domination, the Dragons have amassed 58 Sacks, 97 Tackles for Losses, 18 Interceptions, 15 Fumble Recoveries, and 2 Blocked Punts. Simply put, the Dragons defense allows less than five points per game.
Not to be overlooked in the whole scheme of things is Sacramento sophomore speedster, Deyvon Drayton. This youngster is already showing star power as a multi-talented combo player who has distinguished himself as a back-up RB and WR, and particularly on defense where he’s totaled 30 Tackles to go with 6 Interceptions and a Fumble Recovery.
Del Campo’s credentials are equally imposing. Veteran Head Coach, Mike Dimino, whose stellar 15-year career at Del Campo includes two SJS Championships, has guided the Cougars to a higher strata this season with a team that rates among the best he’s coached. The undefeated Cougars check into this marquee match-up riding the crest of an 11-game winning streak.
At the helm is QB Tyler Dimino, the coach’s son, whose individual stats and leadership skills are among the elite quarterbacks in the SJS. While directing the offense to a scoring average of 43.8 ppg., Dimino has connected on 74% of his passes for 2221 yards, including 31 scoring strikes, while being intercepted just three times. Tight End, Marshaun Hunter and WRs Trevor Brouhns and David Joseph form a dangerous receiving corps. The trio has teamed for 85 catches, 1744 yards, and 25 TD.
On the ground, t
wo of the top running backs in the SJS give the Cougars excellent balance. Jump-started by a blue chip offensive line, speedy scatback Greg Cabral
and bruising fullback Levi Markey
have ripped and run for 2285 yards and 21 TD.
Access Sacramento announcers Will James (left) and Jim Dimino on the sidelines of Cougar Canyon at Del Campo High School earlier this season.
Like Sac, Del Campo’s punishing defense has overwhelmed and dominated its opponents, allowing less than seven points per game. Linebackers Hunter, Ish Cisneros, Ray Aguilar and Markey, and DB Joseph all fly to the football. They’ve teamed for 383 Tackles, with 43 Sacks and 14 Interceptions, including 8 by DB Brouhns.
Regardless of which team has possession of the football at any given time in the game, the face-off will be the same: An unstoppable force meeting an immovable object. So, fasten your seat belts, get a good grip, and hang on for another wild and exciting experience on Hometown Sports Game of the Week.