Eagles eye next season

By: Eric J. Gourley, Journal Sports Writer
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The Del Oro High football team came up short in its ultimate quest to win a section championship and earn a state bowl berth Friday night. The Golden Eagles did, however, inspire a school that had lost faith in a program that went 4-6 last year and failed to make the playoffs for the first time this decade. “After last season no one thought a section title would be something we even had in mind,” senior middle linebacker Blake Landry said. “Going in and having a great season, we almost lived that goal. We just didn’t have one more close one in us.” Throngs of Del Oro students turned out to watch the Eagles restore gridiron order in Loomis this fall, rallying their way to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II title game for the 11th time in school history. A large Placer County contingent filled the stands in Stockton late last month, where Del Oro came back from an early 14-0 deficit. Junior quarterback Max Magleby orchestrated a game-winning drive and the Eagles upended the top seed and previously unbeaten Rams 30-29 in a thrilling quarterfinal. Fans who filled Folsom High’s Prairie City Stadium on a chilly December Friday night saw senior tailback Bryce Pratt score three fourth-quarter touchdowns in the final seven minutes to lead Del Oro past Folsom 43-42 in one of the most remarkable comebacks in section history. A steady downpour didn’t keep Eagles supporters away from UC Davis Friday night, where more than 8,000 watched Rocklin’s defense hold Del Oro (11-3) to one of its worst showings of the season to win the Thunder’s first section championship. Falling short of a section title was disappointing, but still an impressive turnaround from a rare sub-.500 season. The seniors are trying to take it in stride. Less than 24 hours after Friday’s title tilt, Spencer Butterfield and Nico Ruiz were on the basketball court, helping the Eagles beat Lincoln in the championship game of the Del Oro Invitational. Jon Root took a day off to spend time with family, but he’ll be back on the hardwood this week, too. Del Oro will return many outstanding starters in 2010. Magleby, running back Angelo Pasquale and tight end Adrian Williams will be even more experienced running the offense behind 6-foot-4, 300-pound strong tackle Ryan Cope. Junior linebackers Derrick Luque and Shoichi Martinson, defensive back Kenny Andri and defensive lineman Tyler Adair will be joined by sophomores from of an undefeated JV squad. “We’re all pretty excited already,” Magleby said. “All the seniors were telling us in the locker room after the game, ‘Hey, you guys go get it next year.’ We want to come home with that section title next year.”