Feasting on victory

Golden Eagles are playoff winners again

Del Oro High resumes its Thanksgiving Day postseason practices
By: Eric J. Gourley, Gold Country News Service
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Before the Del Oro High School football team feasts on turkey tonight, the Golden Eagles will honor another favorite fall tradition. Thanksgiving-morning practice had been an annual celebration in Loomis until Del Oro missed the postseason last year for the first time in eight seasons. “If we’re practicing that day, it means we’re in the playoffs,” senior middle linebacker Blake Landry said. “We always want to have a Thanksgiving practice.” If not for an unblemished record at Golden Eagle Stadium, Del Oro may not have earned the opportunity to upend top seed St. Mary’s in the second round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoffs Friday night in Stockton. The 9-2 Eagles suffered both defeats in key Sierra Foothill League matchups on the road. The team would have been left out of the playoffs for an unprecedented second straight year under the section’s old playoff format, replaced this season by an enrollment-based system that favors overall wins as seeding criteria. Flirting with another failed season is a distant memory for Del Oro, which routed Christian Brothers last Friday in its playoff opener to improve to 6-0 at home. Junior quarterback Max Magleby credits the fans for their role in the Eagles’ perfect record. “After the first couple of games people started showing up more and talking around school,” Magleby said. “They said, ‘keep it up and hopefully we’ll see you in the playoffs,’ and you know, look where we’ve ended up. Everyone at school’s fired up. Everyone in the community is fired up. They’re coming out, they’re watching us, they’re supporting us. That’s definitely nice to have.” Magleby and his teammates have been calling every contact in their phones and asking classmates to carpool down to Stockton. “The crowd’s awesome,” he said. “The noise, the fans, the shouting just pumps you up even more. Playing in front of the whole community, you just look up and see all their faces and knowing they’re here to support you makes you feel good.” Head coach Casey Taylor has watched the fans turn out in droves for nearly a decade. “We really feel we have the best student section around,” Taylor said. “Loomis is a special town. It’s still rural with all the growth going on around here. I feel that Del Oro and Loomis are one. It’s a unique situation and probably the closest thing you’ll find to Friday Night Lights around the area. We’re real fortunate to have that community support.” A crowd estimated as large as 6,000 overflowed the stadium for the Eagles’ thrilling overtime win over rival Granite Bay in October. “I’ve never been to a game that packed,” Landry said. “You can’t even hear the guy next to you on the field because it’s so loud, but it’s great having that many people screaming for you.” Friday’s kickoff at St. Mary’s is scheduled for 7 p.m. “Obviously it’s hard for some people to get there with Thanksgiving, but the fans have traveled well with us to Folsom and Rocklin,” Taylor said. “I hope we have a good group of people down there. The more we have the better. We know we’re playing a great football team and it’s going to be a challenge, but it’s one that we’re really looking forward to.”