UPDATE: The CIF-SJS office announced Wed. Nov. 14 it is postponing all football playoff games one-week because of unhealthy air quality. This game is now scheduled for the day after Thanksgiving, Friday Nov. 23. Access Sacrametno is determining whether television coverage of this game can be moved to that date. An Update will be provided here later in the week.
by Will James
Little more than two more weeks remain until the 2018 high school football season concludes with the CIF State Championship Games on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.
But before the final curtains are raised, and finishing touches of the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Playoffs and NorCal Championships are applied, unfinished business must first be attended to in the CIF SJS Semi-Final Round this Friday, Nov. 16. .
In the top half of the Division-I Final Four bracket, familiar long-standing adversaries, #4 St. Mary’s and #1 Folsom will square-off again. But the bottom half of the D-1 bracket holds the greater attraction and intrigue where the #3 Oak Ridge Trojans battle the #2 undefeated Monterey Trail Mustangs in Elk Grove.
Access Sacramento’s live telecast of this is 7:00 pm brawl on the Hometown Sports Game of the Week will be seen on Comcast and Consolidated Communications cable channel 17, AT&T U-Verse channel 14, and live on the Internet only from the NFHSnetwork.com. Replays Sat. Nov. 17 at 11 a.m. and Tues. Nov. 20 at 7pm are on cable and also streamed from AccessSacramento.org.
Eric Cavaliere’s 8-3 Trojans have suffered losses only to Folsom, Del Oro, and Granite Bay — three perennial heavyweights in the viciously-contested Sierra Foothill League; the strongest conference in the entire SJS. Oak Ridge brings a deep, talented, and experienced team into the fray after prevailing 27-9 over a stubborn Turlock squad in their playoff opener.
Veteran Senior QB, Matt Jenner leads a poised and polished offense that averages 34 ppg. Jenner has passed for nearly 2000 yards with 57% accuracy and 20 TD. WRs Avant Jacobs (37 receptions, 6 TD) and Sawyer Merrill (44 receptions, 5 TD) head a deep receiving corps. RBs Nathan Addleman and Mitch Anderson have combined for 1200 yards and 11 TD to provide an excellent balanced rushing attack. A solid Oak Ridge defense allows just 20 ppg.
On the flip side, T.J. Ewing’s 11-0 Mustangs are on a roll, and will meet the Trojan invasion with perhaps the school’s finest team to-date. The Mustangs swept through a weak Metro League slate, then walloped Pitman (Turlock) 63-7 in an opening-round tune-up rout.
Sr. QB Zach Larrier is the engineer handling the throttle of the Mustang’s vaunted Veer Offense, averaging 50 ppg. Larrier punts, passes (1139 yds, 58%, 16 TD), runs (825 yds., 11.5, 14 TD), and excels ( 3 ints.) on defense. RBs Jehiel Budgett, Viktor Oliver, Prophet Brown, Thaddeus Hills, and Caleb Ramseur form a deep and explosive corps that have combined for 3133 yards and 43 TD. WR Andre Crump is Larrier’s top receiver, averaging 22 yards on 27 receptions and 11 TD. The Mustangs’ rampaging defense is formidable, allowing just 8.8 ppg.
This match-up has all the makings of a classic semi-final with two highly skilled quarterbacks leading two well-coached, quality teams in a battle to reach the SJS championship round; a game that should be circled in red in your programming guide, not to be missed.