CIF-SJS Football Playoffs Quarterfinal Round

by Will James

Hometown Sports 

Playoff opponents with two distinctly contrasting styles will collide head-on in second round action of the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Football Playoffs Friday evening when the 4-seed Antelope Titans host the 5-seed Whitney Wildcats in an intriguing D-2 match-up.

The contrast is found in Antelope’s explosive offense, challenging defensive-minded Whitney; a battle that could materialize into either a tight, nerve-racking thriller, or a robust blowout. Whichever direction the scale tips, it will all be seen on Access Sacramento‘s Hometown Sports Game of the Week.

The live telecast, which begins with a 6:30 p.m. pre-game, and kickoff at 7:00 p.m., may be seen in Sacramento County on Comcast or Consolidated Communications Cable channel 17, and AT&T U-Verse channel 14.  The game will also be streamed live only on the NFHS Network.

The respective records of the teams may seem misleading on the surface. Whitney (6-5) from the rugged Sierra Foothill League (SFL), should not be underrated, though Antelope (9-0) from the Capital Valley Conference seemingly appears to be a clear favorite.

Coach Zac McNally’s Whitney Wildcats have run the gauntlet in the SFL, having faced the top heavyweight sluggers in the area, including Rocklin, Folsom, Del Oro, Granite Bay, as well as Clovis from the Central Valley; validation enough for their high seeding.

Despite this brutal schedule, Whitney’s defense has allowed an average of just 17.4 points.  This impressive statistic must be upheld without the luxury of a high scoring offense. The Wildcats average a mere 15.8 points; a total that shrinks in comparison to Antelope’s imposing offense, and places immeasurable pressure on its defense.

The ‘Cats defense will be asked to contain an Antelope offense averaging 42.8 points and boasts the top running back in the entire section. The Titans’ Curron Borders has rushed for 1,987 yards and 31 TDs. He averages 11 yards-per-carry and 221 yards-per-game.

Borders is not the only weapon for Antelope Coach Mike Byerly’s Titans.  Steady Junior Quarterback Jasiah Bateman has led Antelope’s offense superbly and fully utilizes Running Back Joseph Martinez and Wide Receivers Brandon Seetahal, Jordyn Saechao, and speedster Da’Marion Williams.

Doubly daunting for Whitney is the Antelope defense, a quick hard-hitting unit that yields an average of just 13.5 points. It’s anchored by Defensive Lineman Elijah Moore, Linebackers Amir Pharms and Xavier Marez, and Defensive Backs Christian Martinez and Trevon Watson.

This places added pressure on the Whitney offense, which pins its hopes on Sophomore Quaterback Jacob Smiley, Running Backs Anthony Parker and Takai Takahashi, and versatile Wide Receiver/Running Back Roman Floyd.

The Wildcats’ defense must play its finest game in hopes of containing the explosive Antelope offense. Defensive Linemen Nathan Pearce, Ian Don, and Linebackers Carson Phillips and Brandon Wong must lead this effort with outstanding performances.

Will it be offense or defense that dominates this match-up? If you’re unable to attend the game, tune-in to Access Sacramento’s  Hometown Sports Game of the Week.