Football: Del Oro, Placer hope tough schedules continue to pay dividends throughout playoffs

By: Matthew Kimel, Journal sports editor
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They played tough preseason schedules and were rewarded with league titles.

Now the Del Oro and Placer high school football teams hope competing in tough leagues will continue to pay dividends throughout the playoffs. 

After taking on Logan of Union City (8-2), Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks (7-3), De La Salle (10-0), Grant (7-3) and St. Mary’s (7-3), the Golden Eagles (8-2) put together a perfect Sierra Foothill League season by beating Rocklin (7-3) and Granite Bay (7-3) by a combined three points.

“We knew going in that the games we played in the preseason were going to help us in tight games,” Del Oro coach Casey Taylor said. “… It’s a testament to why we play our tough schedule.”

Over at Placer (5-5), Joey Montoya’s Hillmen also took on a rugged preseason slate. Unlike Del Oro, which went 3-2 before league, Placer managed to pick up just one victory before Pioneer Valley League play. Being tested early against Central Catholic (9-1), Christian Brothers (7-3) McLane (6-4), Yuba City (9-1) and Woodcreek (3-7), however, worked out for the best.   

“Absolutely,” said Montoya, whose Hillmen ended up as co-champs of the PVL despite their slow start. “No doubt about it. It has prepared us. I think our opponents’ wins in the entire section were like third. We’ve played some great competition. Iron sharpens iron. And for us, we felt like it really prepared us for league and hopefully will lead into the playoffs.”

Friday night at 7, top-seeded Del Oro is set to host No. 16 River Valley (6-4) in a Div. II Sac-Joaquin Section playoff opener. In Div. IV action, No. 14 Placer heads to No. 3 Capital Christian (9-1), a small parochial school that has played a rather soft schedule compared to the Hillmen and Golden Eagles and hasn’t played a team that finished the regular season with a winning record in the past month.

Of the 10 squads Del Oro faced this season, seven are playoff-caliber teams, including two league foes. Placer has taken on seven teams that made the postseason as well, three of which came out of the PVL.

Both Montoya and Taylor are wishful that their monstrous schedules continue to pay dividends.

“We have seen some great competition throughout the year in our preseason and our league,” Montoya said. “… We hope it helps us.”

Added Taylor: “We feel our preseason and our league speak for themselves. We feel very honored and humbled to be the No. 1 seed in Div. II, but we think we’re very worthy.”

Reach Matthew Kimel at Follow him on Twitter @matthewkimel