By Will James
Hometown Sports Game of the Week
The rapid development by new high schools into strong competitive programs continues to wrangle the balance of power among high school football teams.
There are more quality teams now ready to compete at a high level than ever before. As a result, the counter-punching in the power leagues like the Delta League, Sierra Foothill League, and Capital Valley Conference is intense when nearly every league opponent is considered a heavyweight threat, and the prospect of sustaining an undefeated record has been too difficult for all but one upper division school in the Sacramento region.
Only Antelope has managed to maintain an undefeated record eight weeks into the season, and four weeks into league play. This impressive stature represents a daunting challenge for Del Campo Head Coach, Mike Dimino, whose Cougars visit Antelope where these Capital Valley Conference rivals take center stage for another battle on Access Sacramento‘s Hometown Sports Game of the Week.
This live telecast may be seen Fri. Oct. 21 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 on the same channels Sat. Oct. 22 at 11:00 a.m. and Tues., Oct. 25 at 7:00 p.m. The game will also be streamed on AccessSacramento.org and the NFHS Network.
Rarely in his 13 seasons guiding Del Campo has Dimino’s squad not been entrenched among the upper echelon teams who regularly occupy a spot in the weekly rankings. With an uncharacteristic 3-4 overall record, and 1-3 in the CVC, the Cougars enter play as a definite underdog, but loom as a serious spoiler in the top-heavy CVC that has four teams installed in this week’s Top-20 rankings.
The Cougars are led by Junior QB Tyler Dimino who has recovered from an early season injury and is now running the DC controls at full capacity. His passing efficiency has dramatically escalated in recent weeks, having thrown for six TDs in his last two starts.
His top targets continue to be WRs Ignasio Salsedo and David Joseph, who teamed with Dimino on a 90-yard touchdown connection. Speedy RB Greg Cabral spearheads the ground game and remains among the top rushing leaders in the area. On the other side of the line, hard-hitting LB Ish Cisneros anchors a scrappy, swarming defense.
Thus far, Matt Ray‘s 7th-ranked Titans have handled every challenge successfully, including last week’s 35-34 scare from #17 Cosumnes Oaks. The Titans are formidable. The defending CVC champions ran the table last season with a clean 7-0 record, outslugging other CVC heavyweights Cosumnes Oaks, Del Campo, and Whitney. They appear to be headed in the same direction.
The Montel Aaron era has passed. Senior QB Nick Spagnola has taken the wheel and is leading the Titans’ beautifully, having thrown for better than 1,200 yards and 10 TDs with no interceptions. Wide receivers Garrett Chapman and Logan Paulson are excellent primary receivers, and Senior RB Elijah Dotson is having another stellar year. As a running back/receiver/returner, he’s accounted for 21 TDs.
Dotson also starts at cornerback, accounting for 18 tackles and two interceptions. Chapman, and linbackers Nick Horsley and Viliami Botts also lead a solid defense that has collected 12 takeaways and 13 sacks.
It will take a strong finish for Antelope to run the table again. The Titans will have to withstand a bumpy CVC stretch run that includes a visit to 6-1 Whitney in the regular season finale. But the attraction at hand is the intriguing match-up on Game of the Week.
The competitive quality of the Cougars-Titans rivalry continues to escalate and has produced some excellent recent battles. Del Campo and Antelope have met on three previous occasions. All three games have been tight and intense, with two of them being decided in the final minute. Antelope won all three games; 14-7, 24-14, and 27-20.
The Titans are also playing with home field advantage. And they’re celebrating Antelope’s Homecoming this week where Game of the Week features a hot CVC match-up that promises a jackpot of high class high school football.