by Will James
Regular-season high school football action in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section concludes this week as contending teams vying for a post-season playoff berth are going to the whip as they charge down the home stretch.
This 7:00 pm game may be seen on Comcast Cable channel 17, Consolidated Communications channel 17, and AT&T U-Verse channel 14. The game will also be streamed live on accesssacramento.org and the NFHS Network.
Any urgency or stress leading up to Friday’s final is unnecessary because the immediate football future for both teams has already been determined; futures that represent both ends of the spectrum.
Host Franklin, under new Head Coach, Evan Boylan, has endured a not-so-predictable slump in the wake of former Head Coach, Mike Johnson’s retirement from coaching. The extent of this slump is represented in the team’s 2-7 overall record, and just a 1-4 mark in Delta League play; a record far from Franklin’s customary excellence that had registered post-season appearances in 10 of the previous 11 seasons under Johnson.
Nevertheless, the Wildcats will bring their best effort Friday evening vs. Delta League Champion, Sheldon. Junior QB Brandon Rundgren has passed for 1297 yards with 50% accuracy and delivered 8 TD passes, but has also thrown 12 interceptions.
Junior RBs Josiah Allen and Jamari Harrison headline the running game. They have collectively rushed for nearly 1000 yards with better than a 5-yard average. Wide receivers Michael Hardey and Sheldon Smith have combined for 51 receptions, nearly 900 yards, and six TDs.
Linebackers Reagan Fonbuena and Elijah Cardenas are the teams top tacklers, registering 123 stops between them, and Senior DE, Alon Dorsey, is a leader on the defensive line, totaling 31 tackles and 4 sacks.
In extreme contrast to the Wildcats, Joe Cattolico‘s Sheldon Huskies have once again had another excellent season, clinching the tough Delta League championship with a clutch 27-21 OT victory over Jesuit last week.
Senior QB Francisco Salinas calls signals and has fired 8 TD passes; generally deferring to a trio of excellent RBs. Senior, Tyrell Smith, tops this group with 1195 yards and 17 TD. Together, Justin Williams and Ladon Johnson have combined for more than 900 yards and another 13 TD for the Huskies’ run heavy offense. Dillon Juniel and Michael Graves are excellent receivers, having teamed for 5 TDs.
Though this game appears one-sided in all regards, this perceived mismatch may become quite compelling depending on the intensity and effort presented by the underdog Wildcats. We shall see.