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Excited Loomis send-off for Del Oro football team to state championship game

Golden Eagles play Saturday in Carson for Div. II state title
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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LOOMIS – A community’s pride swelled Thursday as a bus carrying the Del Oro High School football team bound for the state championship was enthusiastically sent off by a crowd gathered on Taylor Road in the center of town. A sign-wielding, loudly cheering group of more than 100 gathered at the Taylor Road-Horseshoe Bar Road intersection at 3 p.m. as the team – fresh from a stirring final rally at the nearby high school – rode by. The Golden Eagles will play Helix of La Mesa for the Division II state title in Carson at 4 p.m. Saturday. It’s the school's first state championship football game, and many who came out to cheer the departing players and coaches had been harboring a long-held dream of one day seeing their town’s school get there. Joe Thomas, Del Oro Class of 1982, was on the sidewalk of Taylor Road to help send off a team he had once played for. In fact, to honor the occasion, he was wearing his well-worn gold and black practice jersey from the days when it fit much better and the rival was Auburn’s Placer High School. Three decades later, Thomas said the dream he had then is now being fulfilled by a group of players who showed they had what it takes this year to be a championship team. “They play with heart and they’re just a great bunch of kids,” Thomas said. Russ Ortman of Penryn said that Del Oro High School’s football team is showing that a small school from an equally small community in the foothills can still make its mark on the state football landscape. “With the small school size, this shows a lot about the community,” Ortman said. “Just because you’re smaller doesn’t mean you’re less of a person or a community.” The idea that Del Oro, which also pulls in students from the surrounding communities of Newcastle and Penryn, could be vying for a state football championship wasn’t a total surprise to Loomis resident Benay Nielson. Her two children are Del Oro grads and she now has two grandchildren at the school. “This town has always had the spirit,” Nielson said. “For us to get this far, though, is a really big deal. In the city, you would be a little fish in a big town. Here, you’re not.” Loomis resident Edwin Schaefer said he had never seen the community spirit he’s been seeing surrounding the football team’s march to the state championship game. “I’ve been here 34 years and never seen such spirit,” Schaefer said. “The whole town supports the team. I’m ecstatic and amazed. What a blessing.”