Del Oro ready for battle
Call it a gauntlet.
Call it anything other than a soft schedule.
Not only does Del Oro take on some of the top-notch high school football programs in Northern California in its non-league slate, but the Golden Eagles open up their 2012 campaign against Southern California powerhouses Oaks Christian and Westlake.
Like the sign by the snack shack at Del Oro High School’s stadium says: “Anyone … Anywhere … Anytime.”
The Golden Eagles’ first five opponents combined lost just 11 games in 2011.
If they survive their grueling schedule, they’ll be in prime position to try and make another deep playoff run. That is, of course, if Del Oro can repeat its mastery of the Sierra Foothill League.
“We play five top programs, state-ranked teams (in non-league games),” said coach Casey Taylor, whose team finished a 13-2 (5-0 SFL) season last year with a 35-24 loss in the CIF State Division II bowl to Helix. “We are looking forward to the challenge.
“It creates a lot of playoff-like atmosphere.”
That should be evident next Friday when the Golden Eagles take on Oaks Christian of Westlake Village at 7:30 p.m. in the Battle of the Veterans showcase opener in Loomis. Pundits have both teams ranked in the top 10 throughout the state.
“It’s going to be a huge battle,” said senior quarterback Zach LaBar, who hinted that he’ll be lining up as the starter under center. “There’s going to be so many people here.”
Coach Taylor wouldn’t tip his hand at first when asked who his starting QB would be on Wednesday. He named both LaBar and junior Michael Moore.
But on Thursday, he said LaBar would be his guy if it were game day. Last year, Bobby Heatherington was slinging the pigskin for the team, but he’s since graduated.
Regardless of who the quarterback is, the starter will be feeding the football to senior Brandon Monroe, who recently gave a verbal commitment to San Jose State. Monroe rushed for 1,662 yards and 22 touchdowns on 243 attempts last season in split-back duty.
“Brandon Monroe is one of the best backs I’ve seen since I’ve been there,” said Taylor, entering his 11th year at helm.
The Golden Eagle offense put up 589 points in 2011, allowing just 259. Taylor said he isn’t as concerned with putting up points this year as he is with earning victories.
Considering the fact that Taylor wants to establish the run and control the clock, he’ll probably use Monroe as a workhorse.
Del Oro will run multiple schemes on offense, including offset-I and wing formations.
The defense will work out of a 3-4 base, including what Taylor figures will be a strong defensive line featuring Tanner Woods as the anchor along with Brandon Johnson and brothers Elias and Emileo Campos.
“The defense is looking good,” said Monroe, who also plays in the secondary with Moore. “We’ve got a lot more returners on defense with Tanner Woods, me and Dalton (Hudec). We should have a really good defense this year.”
The Golden Eagles have high expectations after winning their eight section title last year and second in as many years, but they know they have to take small steps first to get to where they’d like to be. They have many mountains to climb before they can start thinking about winning their ninth section title.
“It’s early, but we have talent and everybody’s got the work ethic,” LaBar said. “I think we can do it.”
Added Taylor: “We try to win our league first. We’d like to compete for titles and section finals. We’d love to defend our title. But we are just focused on getting better in practice.”
Reach Matthew Kimel at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @matthewkimel
DEL?ORO’S FOOTBALL ?SCHEDULE
8/24 vs. Oaks Christian of Westlake, 7:30 p.m.
8/31 at Westlake, 7:30 p.m.
9/14 vs. Burbank, 7:30 p.m.
9/21 at Grant, 7:15 p.m.
9/28 vs. Logan, 7:30 p.m.
10/5 vs. Woodcreek, 7:30 p.m.
10/12 at Roseville, 7:30 p.m.
10/19 at Granite Bay, 7:30 p.m.
10/26 vs. Nevada Union, 7:30 p.m.
11/2 vs. Rocklin, 7:30 p.m.