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Prep Roundup

Placer Gridders Starting To Get State Attention

Hillmen-Honkers; Del Oro's Last 0-3 Start
By: Mike Ray, Gold Country News Services
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Joey Montoya’s “One Day at a Time” slogan for his 2012 Placer High football team is designed to keep his Hillmen focused on the next play, the next practice, the next game. But unless you are hiding your head in the sand, it's hard not to notice that has the impressive early season wins keep piling up for the Hillmen, Placer’s presence is starting to be felt in state and regional polls that help determine teams who are being considered for the CIF’s regional and state bowl championship games in December. Now, before Hillmen fans start booking airline reservations for the Home Depot Center in December, let’s slow down and take a step back and look at some of the facts. “Placer is still No. 1 for Div. II North teams this week,” said Cal-Hi Sports’ Mark Tennis who compiles the weekly bowl rankings that are used by the CIF State Bowl committee as a guideline to make their final selections. “We have them in Div. II for state purposes but they could end up in Div. III. We just don’t know right now.” Placer, with 1,346 students for CIF Sac-Joaquin Section football enrollment purposes this year, leads the current Div. II North poll followed by teams such as Concord, Inderkum, Paradise, Oakdale, Benicia, Sierra of Manteca and Cosumnes Oaks. But because the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section playoff brackets are determined by total wins and enrollments by divisional breakdown, the Hillmen – if they become playoff eligible – again like 2011, probably won’t know if they are going to play in Div. III or IV for the post season until Week 10. “Placer is in an unusual spot because its enrollment puts them on the bubble between Div. III and IV,” said Tennis. “They’re playing well right now, they just have to keep it up.” The bottom line to be considered for a state regional bowl berth is that a team has to be a section champion. Right now Montoya wants his team only to focus on Yuba City’s Honkers who come to town Friday. Speaking of Yuba City…. Friday’s Hillmen-Honker battle at Lefebvre Stadium will be a renewal of an old Sierra Foothill League rivalry that dates back into the 1940s and 1950s. During a stretch in the 1960s, the Honkers annually fielded the team to beat in the SFL with the Oliver Brothers – Mel, Bernard, and Bill - running through opposing defenses. In many of those years, Yuba City and Marysville would play the last game of the season in “The Little Big Game” in front of 10,000 fans to usually decide the SFL title. In 1976-77, Bill Miller and Tom Johnson’s Hillmen played two epic non-league games against the Honkers with each team winning on its home field. Both of those Placer squads went on to win CIF Div. II championships. The Last Time?….. Del Oro’s 0-3 start to the 2012 season had sportswriters scrambling to find out when the last time the proud Golden Eagles had started a campaign still looking for its first win as September passed the midway point of the month. In 1999, Del Oro actually started 0-4 before finishing the season at 4-6 and missing the playoffs by a game. More recently, Del Oro dropped three of its first four games to start the 2008 season. They finished 4-6, the only losing campaign in current head coach Casey Taylor’s ten seasons at the helm of the program. And if you are a Del Oro fan looking for a softie on the schedule, it won’t happen the next two weeks when the Black and Gold visit Grant on Friday and then host Bay Area power James Logan of Union City Sept. 28. Where Were You In ‘62 Former Colfax High coach George Massick (1980-90) will travel to the San Joaquin Valley this weekend to be part of Chowchilla High’s 50th anniversary reunion of the school’s North Sequoia League championship football team. Massick, who is now retired and resides in Weimar, was part of a two-man coaching crew with Dave Jordan who came to Chowchilla in ’62 to take over a team that hadn’t won a game the season before. In that ’62 season, under their new coaches, the Redskins – the mascot that still is with the school today - went 8-0-1 and defeated long time rival Dos Palos for the first time in years for the league title. The team’s mantra that season: “Great players and great coaches can win a game but it takes a whole team to win a championship.” Massick went on to coach at St. John Bosco and Cerritos college before coming to Colfax while Jordan went on to Grossmont JC and last year was inducted into the state JC Hall of Fame.