Stakes get higher for Del Oro

Eagles beat Hillmen, host Wildcats Friday, 7 p.m., at Del Oro
By: Staff Report
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The stakes are getting a little bigger for the Del Oro Golden Eagles football team this week. Fresh off last Friday’s 41-12 second-round CIF Sac-Joaquin Section playoff throttling of Placer High School, the Golden Eagles are setting their sights on a third consecutive trip to a CIF section championship game. But to get there, the Golden Eagles will have to weather another storm this Friday night at Eagle Stadium when Capital Valley Conference champion Whitney High School, of Rocklin, calls on the Black and Gold in a 7 p.m. semi-final match-up. “Nothing changes, it’s another week and another big game,” said Del Oro coach Casey Taylor, whose Golden Eagles rebounded from a slow start to outscore the visitors from Auburn, 34-0, in the decisive second half, last Friday. Del Oro will take an 11-1 record into the game with Whitney. The Golden Eagle-Wildcat contest is a rematch from last season’s second-round game won by the Golden Eagles, 26-9. Whitney, a 35-0 victor over Consumnes Oaks last Friday night, will come into Eagle Stadium riding a seven-game winning streak, but will have to take on the Golden Eagles without standout run-pass quarterback threat Jake Rodrigues, who suffered a season-ending leg injury in the second half of last week’s game. “We’re preparing to play Whitney like Rodrigues was there,” Taylor said. “They’ll have someone pick up the flag for them. We hear their back-up is a very good player.” In the win over Placer, the Hillmen out-gained Del Oro in total yardage as the visitors cranked out 326 yards on the ground, despite losing leading rusher Brad Spangler to a concussion in the first quarter. And Placer held a 12-7 halftime lead after a touchdown by Peter Denham, a safety and a 34-yard field goal from Dominic Granieri. But Del Oro (11-1) showed championship grit on an 80-yard drive to open the third quarter. Quarterback Bobby Heatherington completed three third-down passes and the Golden Eagles took the lead for good on Nick O’Sullivan’s one-yard dive. Placer (9-3) answered with an impressive drive of its own, but on third down and 1 at Del Oro’s 19-yard line, the Hillmen fumbled and Brandon Monroe recovered for the Eagles. Two plays later, Monroe took off up the Placer sideline on an 80-yard TD run. Down two touchdowns early in the fourth quarter, the Hillmen drove to Del Oro’s 2-yard line. But Monroe laid a big hit on a Placer ball carrier to force a fumble, which Blake Covey scooped up and took 94 yards to give the Eagles a commanding 34-12 lead. The second-half turnaround saved Del Oro’s hopes for a second straight section title. “To Placer’s credit, they came out and hit us in the mouth,” Taylor said. “Our defense kept us in it and, fortunately, we made a few adjustments at the half. We challenged our guys and told them to play a full 48 minutes. We have great senior leadership.” After totaling 107 yards of offense in the first half, Del Oro’s running game got rolling late. O’Sullivan finished with 124 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries. Monroe added 124 yards and two TDs. “In the second half we put all the pieces of the puzzle together,” Monroe said. “We started getting the momentum and we just kept it rolling.” Covey had two interceptions for the Eagles. CIF Playoffs Div. III Semi-Finals Friday- 7 p.m. Whitney at Del Oro Casa Roble at Oakdale Finals Dec. 2 or 3 at Sacramento State