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Adair grins and bears it

Even on gimpy knee, senior sparks Del Oro’s dramatic win streak on both sides of the ball
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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LOOMIS — There are a few things Tyler Adair wants to check off his to-do list before Dec. 15. That’s the day he’ll go under the knife for surgery on the torn ACL in his left knee. The surgery will leave him on crutches for several weeks and unable to play the game he loves for up to a year. Ever since the final regular season game of 2009, Adair has gutted out each Friday night on the bum knee. He leads the Del Oro High football team into the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III championship game Saturday against Oakdale. “It hurts, but it’s one of those things where you can’t let it get to you,” Adair said of the knee. “I just keep moving and if I don’t really think about it, it doesn’t affect me too much. It’s doing pretty good. I wasn’t expecting to play this whole season, but now that I’m here, I’m really happy with it.” Del Oro’s dramatic season may not be on the verge of a fairytale ending if not for Adair’s gutsy effort. He’s an anchor on defense at nose tackle, where he often occupies two blockers while the Golden Eagles’ linebackers and defensive backs swarm to the ball. Midway through the season, Adair caught the eye of Del Oro coach Casey Taylor when he was playing fullback on the scout team. Now he’s a 215-pound battering ram on offense, opening up holes for a trio of explosive running backs. “I’m the vocal guy on the defense and I just brought that energy to the offense,” Adair said. “I like to hit people, get physical. I think that helped our offense just start running downhill.” The Golden Eagles had an uphill climb after a 2-4 start. Six players left the team. The rest banded together and re-dedicated themselves. Seven wins later, Del Oro is back playing for a section championship. “We definitely have something to prove,” Adair said. “If we lose it’s like, ‘Oh, they truly are losers.’ Somebody said that to me at school today,” Adair said. “So we have to win this one because if we don’t, it was just a waste. That’s how we’re thinking of it. It’s going to be all or nothing.” Oakdale presents a challenge for Del Oro with its Wing-T offense and scrappy defense. The Mustangs were impressive in a 41-19 win over Casa Roble in the semifinals last week. Oakdale, which beat Placer in a nail-biting 7-6 win in Auburn last month, features two 1,000-yard runners in Daniel Linder and Marcus Hernandez. “They’ve got some good backs, they make some good cuts,” Adair said. “It’s going to be a brawl, just like it always has been.” Del Oro is seeking its seventh section title. Oakdale, which won the Div. IV crown in 2008, is after its third football title. “Obviously we wanted to be back playing for a section championship,” Taylor said. “We’ve got a good Oakdale team to play. They’re peaking at the right time also, so it’s going to be a great challenge for us.” Del Oro’s defense has given up just one touchdown in each of its three playoff victories. The Eagles limited Patterson to only a field goal in the first half despite three turnovers that set the Tigers up with prime field position. “We got closer and started having some fun,” Adair said. “People started rallying behind us and everyone got excited and it’s just kept rolling from there. Our energy, all of a sudden out of nowhere, it’s just come up.” The Golden Eagles are anxious to get another shot at a section title. They lost to rival Rocklin in the 2009 Division II championship. Del Oro started this season with lofty expectations. It’s taken longer than expected, but the Eagles are finally looking like the dominant team many expected to see. “We’re glad to be in Division III and we think we can run this thing,” Bertrando said. “Our goal all year was to get to the section final and we’re going to win it.”