Tuesday Aug 11 2009
Del Oro rich with football tradition
By: Dave Krizman Journal Sports Columnist
There’s more than one type of gold these days in the Sierra foothills. While miners continue to seek their fortune in the creeks and rivers of our community, the local sports fan need not look any further then the Golden Eagles of Del Oro High. Their football program has been the gold standard for gridiron success for over 30 years. Led today by Casey Taylor, head coach since 2002, the Golden Eagles have continued the winning legacy first introduced at Del Oro by co-head coaches Bob Christensen and John Fletcher. Under the tutelage of Taylor, Del Oro has won one section title, played in two other section championship games, appeared in six straight playoffs and has consistently been rated as one of the top programs in the Sacramento area. Del Oro was the CIF Division II champion in 2005 with a 13-0 record and was considered by some the No. 1 school in the area. In 2004 and 2007, respectively, the Golden Eagles were beaten in the section championship game. Even their “down” year of 2006, Del Oro was 10-2. Taylor and his program have kept it no secret that their goal every year is to represent Northern California in the state playoffs. This lofty goal requires his gridiron talent to play one of the most demanding schedules in the area. Del Oro has faced Nevada Union, Cardinal Newman of Santa Rosa, Elk Grove, Oak Ridge, and last year the Golden Eagles traveled to Idaho to play an Idaho state powerhouse. Hunter Pahl, a two-time all-Sierra Foothill League player, and a 2008 graduate was an integral part of the Golden Eagles’ success. Currently a sophomore on scholarship at UC Davis, Pahl has fond memories of his days at Del Oro. “My most memorable moment at Del Oro was when I scored the winning touchdown in overtime to beat Nevada Union my junior year,” Pahl said. “The stands and crowds went crazy.” After a red-shirt year, Pahl noted the biggest difference between high school football and college football is the talent level. “Every player on UC Davis was a star in high school,” Pahl said. “Now, everyone is competing for playing time. I’ve also noticed how the team is a blend of country kids, like me, and city kids from Southern California.” Sandwiched between Casey Taylor and the co-head tandem of Christensen and Fletcher was Larry Wyatt. Wyatt coached from 1995 through 2001. During his tenure, Del Oro won a California Interscholastic Federation Division II title in 1997. However, it was Bob Christensen and John Fletcher who were the architects of Del Oro’s football success. Fletcher coached the offense and Christensen handled the defensive duties. “Bob always saw the glass half full and I always saw the glass half empty,” Fletcher said with a chuckle. “But between the two of us, the kids always had someone to bounce their ideas off of.” This dynamic duo started their run together in 1980 and retired as head coaches in 1994. Over that time period, Del Oro won section titles in 1989, 1992, 1993, and 1994. According to Christensen, “the 1993 was our best team.” Fletcher, the offensive coordinator, fondly remembers their 1994 championship. “Quarterback Randy Fasani, even as a sophomore, carried our team that year,” Fletcher said. “We won the section championship game that evening when Randy audibled on the line of scrimmage and called a quarterback sneak. Everyone was covered but him, and he walked right into the end zone.” Reflecting back on some of their fondest memories, both coaches felt Fasani was the finest athlete they coached. Along with Fasani, Andrew Floor, Scott Auerbach, Matt Lofrano, and Mike Black were singled out. According to Fletcher, beating Placer in 1981 (ouch!... I was coaching for the Hillmen then) was perhaps one of their biggest wins. This coming fall, if you’re looking for gold in the foothills, check out Del Oro football.