Del Oro finds redemption from section loss, cruises by Granite Bay

By: Nick Pecoraro
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GRANITE BAY− With a combined 17 Sac-Joaquin Section banners between two Sierra Foothill League titans, the highly anticipated rematch of the 2017 D-II section final between Del Oro and Granite Bay seemed, on paper, destined for a classic.


On the field, however, Friday night told a different story.


The Golden Eagles found redemption from last year’s 22-0 section finals loss to the Grizzlies while providing proof why they are a serious contender to return to the championship stage with a 42-7 victory on Granite Bay’s turf.


But Coach Jeff Walters’ message to the team after the game was that, despite a big rivalry win, if this is the highlight of the season, Del Oro should be ashamed of itself.


“We’re not done,” said Walters. “We want to keep pushing that much more and try to see if we can’t squeeze a little more magic out.”


Del Oro landed the early punch that sent the Grizzlies reeling as Hunter Silva blocked a punt attempt from Granite Bay, who was backed up near their own goal line, and pounced on the loose ball in the end zone, igniting the Golden Eagles on the first drive of the game.


Del Oro scored three more times in the second quarter on touchdown runs of 2 and 3 yards from Aiden Foster and a 5-yarder from Sheldon Conde, sending Del Oro into the locker room up 28-0.


It seemed that the section finals loss played a huge role in the Golden Eagles’ pregame mindset this week.


“Since the day it happened, it’s been on our minds,” said Del Oro cornerback Dawson Hurst.


The Grizzlies, meanwhile, could not move the chains but had moments defensively. With Del Oro marching into the red zone, senior linebacker Jacob Ellis intercepted a Carson Jarratt pass to get the ball back into the hands of his offense. But on the ensuing possession, TJ Robertson was picked off by Dante Pericin at the Grizzlies’ 36-yard line, leading to Conde’s first of two scores.


“They were beating us to the punch,” said Granite Bay head coach Jeff Evans. “They came out and got after us. They were the better team, and we tip our cap to them.”


Already up 28-0 entering the second half, Del Oro forced another turnover as Hurst picked up a fumble and ran nearly 10 yards into the end zone, putting the Golden Eagles up 35-0 with two minutes gone by in the third quarter.


Conde picked up his second score of the game at the 5:16 mark of the third with another short burst up the middle, making it 42-0, Del Oro.


Granite Bay’s lone score came on a 4-yard hookup between Robertson and Cobe Weeks with seven minutes to go in the fourth.


“Too few and far between,” said Evans. “(Del Oro) caused us to not play the way we wanted to, and they took advantage of that.”


Pericin’s two interceptions and Hurst’s two fumble recoveries underlined Del Oro’s five defensive takeaways, for the 5-0 Golden Eagles, who will have their first SFL home game Sept. 21 against league newbie Whitney.


Granite Bay (2-3) hosts another SFL newcomer Grant next week.