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Battle of the unbeatens

Rocklin to face Grant at Folsom on Saturday
By: Russ Edmondson The Placer Herald
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It’s been talked about for several weeks and it’s finally arrived. The battle between two unbeaten football teams, Rocklin High and Grant High, will take place at Folsom High on Saturday. This Sac-Joaquin Section, Division II semifinal game will begin at 7:30 p.m. Rocklin (12-0) is ranked No. 2 in DII while Grant (12-0) is No. 3. The winner will play either No. 8 Del Oro or No. 4 Folsom at UC Davis at 8 p.m. on Dec. 11 for the DII title. Del Oro and Folsom will play Friday night at Folsom. Del Oro defeated No. 1 St. Mary’s 30-29 last week while Folsom topped No. 5 Granite Bay 42-28. Del Oro (10-2) is ranked 21st in the state (all divisions) by calhisports.com while Folsom (11-1) is not ranked in the site’s top-25. Rocklin beat visiting Del Oro 24-21 on Nov. 6. Grant is ranked No. 2 in California while Rocklin is ranked No. 12 according to calhisports.com. If Grant wins the DII section title, the site considers it a virtual lock to get the CIF Open Division bowl bid from Northern California. Grant won that bowl game last year and has won 26 games in a row. The Pacers last lost in November of 2007. Grant is ranked No. 8 (all divisions) in the country by ESPNRISE.com while Rocklin is not ranked (site ranks top-50). “We like to play the best and this will give us an opportunity to do that,” Rocklin coach Greg Benzel said. “Our kids and coaches prefer the tough games.” Rocklin’s star running back Jackson Cummings is also excited to play the Pacers on Saturday. “We’re going to be ready and we love the opportunity to play them,” said Cummings, who has combined to score nine touchdowns in Rocklin’s first two playoff games. Grant has started the playoffs with blowout victories against Tokay of Lodi (65-0) and Fairfield (66-12). Senior running back Devontae Butler rushed 18 times for 292 yards and six touchdowns in Friday’s victory over Fairfield. Grant beat Montgomery of Santa Rosa (42-0), Edison of Stockton (27-0), Bellevue of Washington (14-0), Oak Ridge (14-0), Johnson (62-0), Rosemont (56-7), Sacramento (63-0), Kennedy (85-0), McClatchy (62-6) and Burbank (40-22) in the regular season. The Pacers average 49.7 points per game and give up just 3.92 on average. Rocklin averages 38.92 points and gives up 18.17. Rocklin and Grant share one common opponent as the Thunder beat Oak Ridge 40-32. Rocklin’s playoff victories have come against Elk Grove (35-7) and Atwater (35-6). Grant’s Butler has rushed for 42 touchdowns this season and picked up 2,637 yards on 234 carries (11.27 yards per carry). Calhisports.com considers him a candidate for state player of the year. Cummings has 37 touchdowns this season, 34 of them on the ground. He has rushed 256 times for 1,986 yards (7.76 yards per carry). Rocklin senior linebacker Daniel Lessard, the defensive captain, suffered a knee injury in Friday night’s win over Atwater. “Daniel is Rocklin football in terms of what we require and we promote,” Benzel said. “But our guys have responded to adversity all year and guys step up . . . good teams rally and we feel like our guys will.”