Del Oro returns to form in rout of Oakmont

Pratt scores four TDs as Eagles prepare to host Christian Brothers in playoff opener
By: Eric J. Gourley, Journal Sports Writer
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ROSEVILLE — By all accounts, Friday night’s Sierra Foothill League finale was a must-win for Del Oro High. Sure, the Golden Eagles had already secured their berth in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs, but Del Oro sought momentum after dropping two straight on the road. Tailback Bryce Pratt rushed for four touchdowns, backup Ibrahim Abukhdair ran for two more scores and the Eagles returned to form with a 56-8 rout of Oakmont in their regular-season finale. Quarterback Max Magleby also completed first-half touchdown passes of 28 and 51 yards to tight end Spencer Butterfield as Del Oro closed out the regular season 8-2 overall and 3-2 in the Sierra Foothill League. “We needed to get a win tonight,” head coach Casey Taylor said. “That’s what it came down to. We needed to get a little momentum going into the playoffs, and I think we accomplished that. We’ve had a rough two weeks.” The No. 8 Eagles will host No. 9 Christian Brothers (7-3), the Sierra Valley Conference runner-up, in their postseason opener next Friday. Taylor and Del Oro are very familiar with the Falcons, having prevailed in the three most recent meetings. The Eagles beat Christian Brothers 48-32 in 2007, 46-12 in 2006 and 37-7 in the first round of the 2005 playoffs, when Del Oro went on to win the section title. The Eagles would likely face top seed St. Mary’s (10-0) on the road in the second round. “Obviously we’re happy to have a home game,” Taylor said. “We thought we were in the five to eight seed range. We’re happy to be in. It’s going to be hard. This is probably the most loaded bracket I’ve seen since I’ve been coaching.” “We’re happy with the way we finished,” Taylor said. “We wanted to finish off strong and we did. Now the season starts. Everybody’s 0-0 and hopefully we can get hot here and have a good little run, but it’s one game at a time.” Pratt scored the game’s first touchdown on a 2-yard run and added third-quarter scores of 1, 4 and 13 yards. He overcame another sluggish first half after carrying nine times for only 30 yards in the opening 24 minutes to finish the game with 110 yards on 18 carries. Abukhdair ran four times for 70 yards, scoring on a 13-yard scamper late in the third quarter and a 47-yard gallop early in the fourth. “Even though we were still in playoffs we just had to redeem ourselves and come back strong,” Abukhdair said. “Coming back from two losses, I could tell some of us had our heads down.” Del Oro led 21-0 at halftime before scoring four times in the third quarter to put the game out of reach. “My hat’s off to Casey Taylor,” said Tim Moore, Oakmont’s first-year head coach. “He runs a great program. I could only hope to have a program like his. I’d love to be in that position someday, and we will. We made some huge strides this year as a program. Our guys fought hard but they made too many mistakes, and when you make mistakes like that in the SFL, you lose games by a lot.” Michael Garrison’s 49-yard touchdown run with 2:37 left in the game got the Vikings (5-5, 1-4 SFL) on the scoreboard. Junior varsity Tailback Russell Smith scored three touchdowns and Del Oro overcame after a sluggish first half to rout Oakmont 35-8. Smith scored the first touchdown on a 27-yard run and quarterback Bobby Heatherington completed a 32-yard scoring pass to Nick O’Sullivan, but the Vikings added a score late in the first half and the Eagles led 14-8 at halftime. O’Sullivan and Smith shared the load in the second half, with Smith scoring on runs of 10 and 7 yards. Dominic Piazza scored on a 4-yard run with 5:30 left in the game, his second touchdown of the season. Del Oro finished the season 10-0 and 5-0 in the SFL after going undefeated as a freshmen group last year.