Del Oro competes in state bowl game Saturday

By: Mike Ray Loomis News Correspondent
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A wave of excitement started to build on the Del Oro High School campus this week and will reach a crescendo by Saturday, as the Golden Eagles football team readies for its appearance in the CIF State Bowl Div. II championship game at the Home Depot Center, in Carson. The Del Oro football team, put on notice that a potential CIF state bowl bid was a likely following their 21-7, CIF Sac-Joaquin Section championship win over Oakdale two weeks ago, received the official word on Sunday that they had been selected by the 10 CIF state commissioners to represent the North region of the state in the Div. II bowl game. “We’re excited,” said Del Oro coach Casey Taylor. “It’s great for our school and community. We have always wanted to get to this level and to finally to be able to do it is a thrill.” Del Oro, 13-1, is matched against the South representative, 12-1 Helix High School, of La Mesa, from the San Diego section. Helix defeated seven-time defending champion Oceanside, 44-6, last Monday to win the San Diego section Div. II championship. “They’re very talented,” Taylor said of Helix, a charter school that counts among its alumni Reggie Bush, of the New Orleans Saints, and San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith. “They have an outstanding defensive line that is very good and they have a lot of speed and weapons on offense,” said Taylor. “We definitely have our hands full.” The Del Oro-Helix game, slated for 4 p.m., Saturday Dec. 17, is one of five CIF state bowl games scheduled this weekend. The game will be televised live by Comcast Sports Net California on Ch. 23 for Wave Broadband customers, channel 409 for Dish Network subscribers and 698 for Direct TV subscribers. Del Oro practiced twice last week and watched tapes of possible opponents, then resumed full drills on Monday and are expected to depart by bus Thursday afternoon. Del Oro staff is inviting the community to join in a team send-off at 3 p.m., Thursday in downtown Loomis. Leadership students will be distributing signs for well-wishers lining Taylor Road, who will cheer the team on as the bus goes through town. Helix, coached by Tracy Starr formerly a successful coach at Taft High in Woodland Hills, has several standouts on offense led by versatile quarterback Brandan Lewis, who is a dual threat as a passer or runner. In Helix’s 44-6 title-cinching win over Oceanside, Lewis passed for 253 yards and three touchdowns and also ran for a pair of scores. Michael Adkins and Darrion Hancock pose a potent 1-2 running game punch. Adkins racked up 137 yards in just nine carries and had touchdown gallops of 25 and 61 yards in Helix’s first round 44-7 playoff win own Torrey Pines. Other Highlander players to watch out for include wide receiver Kendal Keys, tight end-linebacker Cory Thompson, linebacker Ernest Shipley and safety Kacy Smith. Starr said that while he felt his team deserved the berth, it was never a sure thing. In an interview with the “San Diego Union Tribune” after Helix’ selection, Starr said, “It was out of our control. But we felt that our early season win over five-time Division III section champion Cathedral Catholic was huge.” “When you have three of the last four state champions (from San Diego) on your schedule, if you beat them, it’s nice to know the committee takes that into consideration,” Starr said. Starr said of Del Oro, “To get to the state championships, you have to have all three phases of the game, and they do,” said Starr. “They have a strong running game to go with a solid passing attack, good defense and special teams. If we have a slight advantage, it might be that we have speed, but they’re not slow by any means. They are heavy on the run and they do it well.”