By Will James
After 11 weeks of action, the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section football playoff field has been determined and seeded for opening-round play, and Access Sacramento will originate its post-season coverage with an attractive Division-1 telecast Friday evening when the Pleasant Grove Eagles visit Monterey Trail to battle the Mustangs on the Hometown Sports Game of the Week.
The live telecast begins at 6:30 pm for the 7:00 pm kickoff and may be seen in Sacramento County on Comcast or Consolidated Communications Cable channel 17, and AT&T U-Verse channel 14. The game will only be streamed live on the NFHS Network.
Pleasant Grove (6-4, 2-4) reinstated its respectability this season as Head Coach Matt Costa assembled a solid ball club that distinguished itself in tough Delta League competition and introduced many outstanding individual standouts worthy of all-league recognition, beginning with Nate Valencia.
The senior quarterback is a flashy leader who provides the Eagles with a dual run/pass threat. Valencia riddled opposing defenses with passing proficiency of 61% and 25 TD passes, and scampered for more than 400 yards and 8 rushing TDs. Running backs Chris Weinburg, Dem Alexander, and Karson Wheeler combined for more than 1,000 yards and 15 TDs.
In their four losses, the Eagles’ porous defense has surrendered 184 points. Linebackers Matt Nickerson and Brenden Scharmann, and Defensive Back Logan Ellner will be put to the supreme test to anchor a run-defense against the Mustangs’ run-heavy veer offense that averaged nearly 50 points-per-game.
To see video of Game of the Week coverage for Pleasant Grove vs. Christian Brothers, click HERE.
Having captured back-to-back Metro League crowns, Monterey Trail (5-0, 9-1) has its sights set on returning to the CIF-SJS D-1 championship game this season. Head Coach T.J. Ewing faces a former Delta League opponent with major momentum and a hunger for stiff competition.
Despite fielding a rather one dimensional Veer offense, Ewing’s Mustangs continue to light-up the scoreboard with rushing touchdowns. With Victor Timonin at the helm, the senior quarterback delivered a stellar season while directing the vaunted veer offense and distributing the football to an excellent corps of running backs.
Newcomer Otha Williams has spearheaded the Mustangs’ relentless ground assault. The junior running back broke into the spotlight this season, rambling for more than 800 yards and 17 TDs while averaging nearly 10-yards per carry in leading a prolific group of running backs. Incumbent leaders Caleb Ramseur and Prophet Brown totaled 1,400 yards and 19 TDs, while Chris Lands chipped-in with another 357 yards and 8 TDs. Despite the Mustangs averaging just seven-passes per game, Wide receiver Kevin Adams Jr. emerged as a major receiving threat with 8 TD catches from just 12 receptions.
Although Monterey Trail faced little competition in a weak Metro League, it maintained a stellar defensive presence. Linebacker Marcus Jones Jr. is among the CIF-SJS’s leading run-stoppers, totaling more than 100 tackles again this season. Thaddeus Singleton and Andrew Perkins anchor a tough defensive line, while Linebackers Nekhi Broadway and Umi Wilson, and Defensive backs Antonio Williams and Jamauri Jackson comprise a swarming, ball-hawking unit that registered 28 sacks and 11 interceptions.
Game of the Week covered Monterey Trail in Week One of the season; see highlights HERE.
While Monterey Trail is installed as a logical favorite, look for this match-up to be a fans delight, complete with abundant highlight plays and countless thrills in what should be a wild and spirited playoff atmosphere between two Elk Grove Unified School District squads.