Rivals Del Oro, Rocklin to face off

Golden Eagles look to avenge league loss to Rocklin Thunder
By: Eric J. Gourley, Gold Country News Service
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It’s a rivalry that’s grown out of proximity, intense athletic clashes that have existed in most sports between Del Oro High and Rocklin High since the Thunder opened its doors in 1993. “We’ve grown up being taught to always play our best game against them,” said Golden Eagles tight end Spencer Butterfield, who has also experienced the rivalry on the hardwood. “They’re always going to be your toughest opponent. They’re coached well. We’re coached well. We live close together, and we have a lot of transfers from Rocklin. We’ve always grown up like that.” The Thunder has often enjoyed the edge in baseball and basketball, but the football rivalry is relatively young. This season, Rocklin (13-0) stunned Del Oro (11-2) in a Nov. 6 Sierra Foothill League battle 24-21, clinching the program’s first outright league crown. The Thunder hasn’t offered the Eagles much of a challenge on the gridiron the last few years, not since the teams met in Rocklin’s only Sac-Joaquin Section championship appearance in 2005. Much like this Del Oro squad has rallied from huge deficits to march on through this postseason two weeks in a row, the Eagles trailed the Thunder 15-0 at halftime in that title tilt before storming back to win 18-15. Del Oro senior Luke Cook, who has lived in Rocklin his whole life, remembers the championship well. Then an eighth-grader, he watched his older brother, Robbie, earn a section ring with the Eagles. “I just want to get a ring, too,” said Cook, who has played baseball with Rocklin quarterback Jimmy Laughrea and opposed running back Jackson Cummings in middle school basketball. Del Oro earned the football rematch it’s been begging for since stumbling in week 9. Both teams advanced to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II final, which will be played at UC Davis Friday at 8 p.m. “The huge stage that we’re on and the huge opportunity we have for a memorable experience, it’s a big rivalry,” Cook said. “They’ve looked at us that way ever since they’ve been a high school.” The winner has an inside track to a state bowl game the following week, a first for either team. “We’re thinking about that in the back of our mind but really we just want to win the section first,” Butterfield said. “Obviously we want to make a statement against Rocklin. Going on to state would be awesome, but really we just want to take care of the section first.” The Eagles’ six section titles tie Grant for third-most, behind only Escalon (7) and Central Catholic (15).