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Golden Eagles aim to claim second state championship

By: Mike Ray
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Call it playoff karma, postseason luck or whatever you want, but make no mistake, the Del Oro Golden Eagles know CIF State Championship football bowl games.

 

For the fifth time in school history, and for the third time over the past four seasons, the Golden Eagles find themselves knocking at the door in a bid for yet another CIF grid crown.

 

“We’re excited for the opportunity to play for a state championship,” said Del Oro coach Jeff Walters about his Golden Eagles heading south this week in an effort to bring home the school’s second state title. “The kids are looking forward to the challenge.”

 

Friday, Del Oro, fresh off its 14-13 win last week for the CIF Northern California 2-AA state title, will line up in the state final opposite Grace Brethren of Simi Valley at 4 p.m. at Cerritos College in Norwalk.

 

The game will be televised live by NBC Sports California, available on most cable and satellite distributors. It will also be streamed at www.Spectrumnews1.com/CIFfootball.

 

For Del Oro, the Golden Eagles celebrated last Friday’s thrilling come-from-behind win over St.

Francis for just two days before returning to work to face another big challenge in the Lancers, who will come into their second straight CIF championship game with a record of 13-2.

 

“They have some great athletes and are experienced,” said Walters about the Lancers, who reached the 2-AA state game in Sacramento last season where they lost to St. Francis – the school Del Oro beat last Friday – 22-13. “We’re expecting a tough, tough game.”

 

Grace Brethren, a school of just 305 high school students, earned its way into the title bout by defeating San Diego power St. Augustine, 28-14, in the CIF Southern Regional game Nov. 28.

 

The Lancers are a versatile offensive team with a solid running and passing attack. On the ground, Lontrelle Diggs, a 5-foot-8, 225-pound running back is the focal point of the rushing game as he has plowed his way for 2,326 yards and 33 touchdowns.

 

Josh Henderson, the coach’s son, is the other ground threat with 863 yards and six scores. Meanwhile, sophomore quarterback Mikey Zele, who led the Lancers to the state championship game as a freshman a year ago, has thrown for 1,652 yards and 11 touchdowns. Zele’s top receiver is 6-3, 185-pound Nate Bennett, who has 21 grabs for 558 yards, an average of 26.6 yards per catch.

 

Like St. Francis a week ago, Del Oro will face some bruisers up front Friday. Two-way standout Stanley Taufoou (6-3, 255) and sophomore Jay Toia (6-3, 320) have both committed to play at USC.

 

Del Oro, which defeated Camarillo to win the 2015 state title, was expected to leave Thursday morning for the trip to the Los Angeles area and return on Saturday.