Living on the ragged edge: Woodcreek football team vows to find SFL successBy: Garrett Phillpott■Roseville Press Tribune intern
2014 Woodcreek football schedule
Aug. 29 at Vintage
Sept. 5 at Casa Roble
Sept. 12 at Oakmont
Sept. 19 vs. Ponderosa
Sept. 26 at Oak Ridge
Oct. 3 vs. Nevada Union
Oct. 17 vs. Rocklin
Oct. 24 vs. Granite Bay
Oct. 31 at Del Oro
Nov. 7 at Folsom
With each mighty rep in the Woodcreek High weight room this summer, incoming senior Dominic Balmer is making a statement.
He and the rest of his fellow Timberwolves will fall nothing short of success when the football season arrives this fall.
“We work harder than anyone else,” Balmer said. “We go two times a day, three hours each.
“We just push each other.”
Balmer knows a little about push.
He won a sixth-place medal in the 285-pound weight class at the 2014 California Interscholastic Federation State Wrestling Championships in Bakersfield last winter.
When asked how his state medal will help him out on the football field, Balmer spoke of confidence gained.
“It just helps me, knowing that I can take anyone,” Balmer said. “I got the mindset that I can go as hard as anyone.
“I can go toe-to-toe with anyone that you put me against.”
The Timberwolves have been making lasting impressions all summer. At the Sacramento State football camp in June, the team found immediate success from its first action in pads.
“The Sac State coaches were really impressed with a lot of our players, as they offered two of them full scholarships, Brian Lee and Dominic Balmer, before the season has even started,” Woodcreek coach Jason Stowers said.
The Timberwolves nabbed the “King of the Camp” honor from Sacramento State, bringing the crown home to Roseville against a bounty of solid opposition. It was a big moment for the program.
“We’ve been working all summer, trying to get tougher and trying to become more close as a team,” said returning starting Woodcreek quarterback Isaiah Harborth. “Winning ‘King of the Camp’ showed us that all of our hard work paid off.”
The Timberwolves also gained the opportunity to visit the Oakland Coliseum and the new Levi’s Stadium, which are home to the Oakland Raiders and the San Francisco 49ers. Woodcreek players were one of the first groups to have the opportunity to visit the new stadium, which resonated as the experience of a lifetime for the majority of the team.
During the same July 11-13 weekend, the Timberwolves traveled to the College of San Mateo to participate in a 20-team 7-on-7 tournament that included former Central Coast Section champions Los Gatos (D1) and Milpitas (D2).
Woodcreek toppled both teams en route to a second-place finish in the prestigious tournament.
“This 7-on-7 tourney was the test,” Woodcreek senior Jordan Williamson said. “The test to see if we could hang with section championship teams and we exceeded that task.
“We are the bad boys of the SFL.”
Tough road ahead
As the Timberwolves wrap up their summer, their eyes turn to an intensely challenging season. It all begins Aug. 29 with a road game against Vintage before a bout with host Casa Roble a week later. They play cross-town Oakmont Sept. 12 and close the preseason with Ponderosa Sept. 19.
Then it gets real.
In Sierra Foothill League play, Woodcreek has Oak Ridge on Sept. 26, Nevada Union Oct. 3, Rocklin Oct. 17 and Granite Bay Oct. 24. The Timberwolves close the road season against reigning league, section and NorCal champions Del Oro on Oct. 31.
They close the regular season at home against Folsom, last year’s Open Division NorCal runner-ups.
Although the Timberwolves face a tough schedule and are viewed as a clear underdog in what’s considered the toughest league in the section, incoming senior wide receivers Malcolm Thomas and Lenny Nelson have faith in their ability to prevail.
“It feels great … we have no expectations,” Thomas said.
“It’s going to be funny when they realize that Woodcreek isn’t the underdog and we’re at the top,” Nelson added.
The Timberwolves are looking to break tradition. The team was 3-7 a year ago, 2-8 the season prior and hasn’t won more than one conference game since its 2009 playoff season (4-7). Woodcreek’s last playoff win was in 2008, 31-24 over Oak Ridge.
“Woodcreek High School has never had a winning season,” Stowers said. “We’ve changed the culture and our whole motto has been to be on the ragged edge and to have a family mentality.”
“Woodcreek is a family brought together by the motivation to establish a winning tradition for years to come,” senior Matt Ahnin added. “The brotherhood we share and the mindset of this team is what sets us apart from our competition.”
The SFL will test the team’s measure, but low expectations will only fuel this group. Wolves can’t be underdogs for long.
Follow Garrett Phillpott on Twitter, @GPhillpott.