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Del Oro puts new playoff practice plan into play

By: Mike Ray
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LOOMIS– Practicing on the Thanksgiving holiday is nothing new for the Del Oro High football program.

This week once again, for the seventh time over the past eight seasons, Del Oro coach Jeff Walters will be sending the Golden Eagles through their Turkey Day paces as the Black and Gold prepare to move on to the next round of the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoffs.

“We enjoy practicing on Thanksgiving,” said Walters. “We encourage family and friends to come out. This year we’re trying to do a Thanksgiving alumni flag football game.”

While practicing on Thanksgiving – which in previous seasons has meant that a team that draws holiday duty has advanced to the CIF semifinal round – has become old hat for Del Oro, the circumstances surrounding the 2018 holiday workout schedule will be somewhat different.

When Del Oro lines up to practice on Thanksgiving, the Golden Eagles know that they have earned a berth in the CIF D-II section championship game to be played on either Nov. 30 or Dec. 1, most likely at Sacramento State. However, Del Oro will be going through its holiday workouts not yet knowing who its opponent will be.

“It’s a strange situation but we’re hoping to make the best of it,” said Walters. “We’re trying to keep the team sharp. It’s not often you get two byes on consecutive weeks at this time of the year.”

In a remarkable turn of events last week that first saw the Sac-Joaquin Section postpone all of its semifinal round playoff games because of the unhealthy air into this weekend (Nov. 23–24), the section office dropped another bombshell on Friday afternoon.

Jesuit, which had opened the postseason with resounding wins over Woodcreek and Granite Bay, and was set to play Del Oro in a first ever meeting between the two schools in the semifinal round this Friday, was ruled out of the playoffs by the section office after the school revealed that it had used an ineligible player in its playoff games with both Woodcreek and Granite Bay.

Acting on Jesuit’s self proclamation of violating the section rules, the CIF office had no choice than to oust the Marauders, meaning the Del Oro would pick up a forfeit win this week and advance to next week’s championship game.

Del Oro will now sit back and wait and see who its opponent will be as the Golden Eagles will take on the winner of Friday’s No. 3 Inderkum at No. 2 Central Catholic game that will be played in Modesto.

“We’re happy to be moving on, but at the same time we feel for Jesuit,” said Walters. “We have nothing but respect for their program, their players and coaches.”

With the combination of the postponed semifinal contest, the Golden Eagles (11-1) haven’t seen action since defeating Tracy, 36-7,  in a quarterfinal round game back on Nov. 9.

When Del Oro lines up next week in its section title game, the Golden Eagles will have gone wither 20 or 21 days between games.

“We have a plan in place to keep the kids sharp,” said Walters. “We’re doing things to make sure that we keep our competitive edge and focus for the next two weeks.”