Thunderstruck: Del Oro’s ‘Cinderella’ run comes to an endBy: Matthew Kimel, Journal sports editor
Zach LaBar gave it his all — and then some.
But the quarterback’s gutsy performance wasn’t enough to continue No. 15 Del Oro’s “Cinderella” run at another Sac-Joaquin Section title.
Elk Grove’s Robert Frazier, Spencer Sheff and Wadus Parker all rushed for 100 yards or more, and the No. 3 Thundering Herd held off a late rally by the visiting Golden Eagles to win 35-32 Friday night.
Del Oro (7-6) trailed 35-24 late in the fourth quarter, and a limping LaBar led the Golden Eagles down the field despite re-rolling an ankle he hurt earlier in the season.
The Golden Eagles converted on three fourth downs on their finale drive, which was capped off by a 6-yard Brandon Monroe touchdown. Del Oro opted to go for two to come within a field goal, and LaBar made the throw of his life to Tyler Meteer after dodging multiple defenders to convert.
Asked what kept him going through the pain, a teary-eyed LaBar said, “The heart of the team. We fought through everything this year. I thought we could do it. We came up short. We gave it our all. … It was worth it.”
Del Oro's ensuing onside kick didn't go 10 yards and the Herd, who advance to the Div. II section title game to take on No. 1 Folsom next week, ran the clock out to secure the victory.
Onside kicks didn’t go well for Del Oro on Friday night.
After falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter, the Eagles closed the deficit to 20-17 with 10 seconds to go after a Labar-to-Meteer TD. But Elk Grove recovered a poor squib kick at the Del Oro 45. A 35-yard Tommy Arnold-to-Parker screen pass wound up costing Del Oro seven points as time expire going into the break.
“We were trying to squib it and it ended up hitting the front guy,” Del Oro coach Casey Taylor said. “They got good field position. … And then we didn’t make a play.”
Taylor knew ahead of time that his defense would need to contain Frazier and Parker to have a chance to win the ballgame. Frazier (101 yards), Parker (130) and Sheff (101), however, were unstoppable most of the night.
At the start of the second half, Del Oro fell behind 35-17 after Parker took a 64-yard run to the house. A flag was initially thrown for holding, which would have negated the score but the referees decided to pick it up.
“They’re really elusive,” said Del Oro’s college-football bound running back Monroe, who rushed for 194 yards three scores, of Elk Grove’s backs. “Everything I said about them this week, they proved to be. They should be playing at the next level. They’re really good football players.”
Despite the loss, LaBar (10 of 18 for 77 yards with a TD and interception) could have easily been considered the star of the game for battling through an aggravating injury.
“What a gamer, a warrior, fighting through it,” Taylor said. “He made some plays. That’s a great example of this team, the never-give-up, never-quit attitude.”