Del Oro preps for Rocklin, who still has much to play forBy: Mike Ray
Over the years, if you are a prep football follower, you could almost always count on the outcome of the annual Del Oro-Rocklin game as affecting either the final Sierra Foothill League standings or having a CIF playoff implication.
And, despite less than five miles of separation and not a whole lot of love for each other, Del Oro and Rocklin have always rallied together since 2010 to play for the “Battle of the Shield” in honor of fallen Rocklin police officer Matt Redding, a Del Oro graduate.
So, Friday when the Golden Eagles and Thunder tee it up at 7 p.m. in Rocklin, don’t be surprised if you see another Del Oro-Rocklin game that has a lot more than just the outcome of a football game on the line.
“First, it’s a rivalry game,” said Del Oro coach Jeff Walters. “Rocklin has a very talented team and with great coaches and players, so you can throw the records out the window.
“I think in games like this, you want to win because you respect your opponent. Plus playing in honor of Matt Redding is also very important for both teams. Both teams will be ready on Friday.”
Del Oro and Rocklin have a recent history of battling each other tooth and nail.
In Del Oro’s 2015 CIF State bowl championship year, Rocklin defeated the Golden Eagles in the regular-season meeting, 28-3, before Del Oro came back and turned the tables on the Thunder in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section championship game, 30-20.
In 2016, Del Oro came out on top, 26-14, but last season Rocklin returned the favor, winning 22-12.
At first glance, Friday’s big SFL game – on paper, anyway – appears to have a matchup of two teams going in different directions.
Del Oro comes into the game with a spotless 8-0 overall mark, a 4-0 SFL slate and a No. 1 rating in the Section’s Division II rankings.
However, despite their 2-6 overall record, the Thunder is No. 8 in the same D-II poll, and with wins over Del Oro and Granite Bay will qualify for the postseason.
Rocklin’s overall record is very misleading because three of its losses have been to strong teams, all by a touchdown or less. That includes a 42-35 setback to Nevada power Damonte Ranch, a 24-22 decision to Antelope and a 41-36 squeaker to Grant.
The Thunder have a capable air game led by quarterback Cade Wyant, who has thrown for 1,771 yards and 13 touchdowns. Wyant’s big receiver is Liam Mays, who has snagged 50 passes for 674 yards and eight scores.
Don’t sleep on unbeaten Del Oro, Rocklin JV teams
While Friday’s Del Oro-Rocklin “Battle for the Shield” varsity football game between Del Oro and Rocklin is drawing a lot of local attention, don’t sleep on the Golden Eagle and Thunder JV teams.
In what is being billed as the Sierra Foothill League’s “JV Game of the year”, two undefeated 8-0 teams will collide at Rocklin with kickoff set for 4:45 p.m. For the winner, a piece of the SFL crown awaits.
Del Oro has reeled eight straight wins with a prolific offense. In its current winning streak, in only one game, a 21-20 win over Granite Bay, has an opponent stayed within three touchdowns of the Golden Eagles.
Leading Del Oro’s charge this season have been quarterback Logan Strough, running back and linebacker Logan Foster, linebacker Jacob Birch, lineman Brian West and wide receiver-safety Hunter Lee.
Following the contest with Rocklin, Del Oro must still navigate Folsom at home Oct. 26.
On the other side of the ledger, Rocklin has matched Del Oro’s 8-0 record by posting four shutouts and also getting past a tough Folsom team, 21-14. The Thunder will end their season next week against Granite Bay.
Top players for the Thunder include quarterbacks Woody Brennan and Richie Watts, running back Jaylen Pickens and receivers Tyler McQuistion and Mitchell Valdez.