Golden Eagles struggle to 1-3
El DORADO HILLS — Del Oro High had no answers Friday night as the team challenged offensive juggernaut Oak Ridge. It was a long night on both sides of the ball for the Golden Eagles as the team suffered a 44-24 defeat to the Trojans.
Del Oro took an early 3-0 lead, but Oak Ridge (4-0) responded with a 36-yard touchdown run by Jordan Matanane just before the end of the first quarter.
Behind a 184-yard, two-touchdown rushing performance from Matanane, and an 11 for 16, 172-yard passing display from senior quarterback Will Tostenson, Oak Ridge continually found a way to slip past Del Oro defenders. Tostenson was elusive in the backfield, often scampering for extra yards after miscommunication with his tailbacks.
Wide receiver Willie Tucker was Tostenson’s main target. At 6-3, 200 pounds, Tucker was a focus for the Del Oro defense, repeatedly going against double and even triple coverage. It was to no avail. He still managed to haul in six catches for 141 yards and three touchdowns.
Countering Tucker on the Del Oro side was junior wide receiver Daniel Thomas. He had a career night with six catches for 131 yards and two touchdowns. His biggest catch was a 50-yard pass from backup quarterback Bobby Heatherington down the center of the field just before the end of the half. It set up a one-yard touchdown run by running back Kenny Andri.
Starting quarterback Mason Magleby struggled early and was replaced by Heatherington in the second quarter. Del Oro coach Casey Taylor declined to comment on why Magleby was removed from the game.
Del Oro had a glimmer of hope going into the locker room down 27-10 after the big play to Thomas shifted the momentum ever so slightly in the Golden Eagles’ favor. Thomas said he and Heatherington have been playing a lot together and their hard work just paid off.
“He saw the safety was right on top of me and he knows I’ll make plays,” Thomas said. “He made the right read and it just worked out for us.”
Thomas now has at least three catches in each of Del Oro’s four games so far this season. The 50-yard reception was the longest of the year for him, and he followed it up two catches later with a 46-yard touchdown reception. He also had a 12-yard touchdown reception late in the game.
“I thought Daniel Thomas had a great game and Bobby gave us a spark,” Taylor said.
Del Oro’s aerial attack was also aided by junior tight end Alex Bertrando who had three catches for 28 yards. Heatherington completed 8 of his 15 passes for 148 yards and had a nice 24-yard run late in the fourth quarter.
Del Oro struggled on the ground. Andri had 16 carries for 52 yards, with his last two runs losing yardage. His running mate Angelo Pasquale had six carries for 58 yards.
Although the Golden Eagle defense gave up 44 points on the night, there were a few bright spots. Russell Smith, Rock Slatter, and Tanner Huber all made big plays on the defensive side.
Taylor said Del Oro needs to take care of the basics as it approaches its next game at home against Oakmont.
“We need to block and tackle better,” Taylor said. “Oak Ridge did a great job controlling the football on the ground. They also made big plays to No. 7 (Tucker).”
It was the second straight lopsided loss for Del Oro. The Golden Eagles lost 47-7 at Clovis West on Sept. 11. Now facing some adversity, the team will see what it’s really made of as it prepares for a three-game home stand.
“We need to get better in a hurry,” he said.
“I’m just hoping we can come together as a team and pull out a victory next time,” Thomas added.
It was an exciting finish as Del Oro fell to Oak Ridge 36-35. Del Oro’s starting quarterback, Zach Lebar left the game after a concussion sidelined him in the first half. Josh Krieger had a key interception on third down that he returned 20 yards. Brandon Monroe returned a kickoff 95 yards late in the second quarter.
Monroe was the gut of the offense for Del Oro, scoring with 4:17 left in the game and converting a two-point conversion to put the Eagles ahead 35-33. Del Oro stopped the Trojan’s next drive only to fumble the ball with two minutes remaining.
The Trojans completed a 40-yard pass down the sideline with 1:37 remaining and found the end zone 37 seconds later. Oak Ridge converted its own two-point conversion to win the game 36-35.
Del Oro 28, Oak Ridge 8