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Buzzing with momentum: Placer's shaved squad heads into playoffs with 10-game winning streak

Hillmen’s foe has dropped 3 straight
By: Matthew Kimel, Journal sports editor
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­­Live updates from the Placer football playoff game

 

Online: To get live updates from the game, please visit auburnjournal.com/sports. Look for Sports Editor Matthew Kimel’s tweets on the Journal’s new website.
Radio: You can also tune in to KAHI (950 AM) for play-by-play action.
 
TICKET PRICES AND ADDITIONAL GAME INFORMATION
 
Tickets: Special CIF ticket prices will be in effect Friday, costing $10 adult , $7 students and seniors and children 5 and under free.
Gates will open at 5:45 p.m. and two ticket booths will be open. The ticket booth on Finley Street is under construction and will be closed.
Playoff ticket prices are regulated by the governing body of the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section and all revenue generated by ticket sales at all playoff games are sent to the section office.
Reminder:  All whistles, air horns and other air-powered or mechanically powered devices are prohibited. Also, all pop-up shade/rain shelters are permitted in the top two rows of the bleachers and the cement area on top area of the stadium.
 
 

 

The Placer Hillmen are using the exact same approach to the playoffs as they did to the regular season — collectively shaving their heads before the opener and taking things one day at a time. 
 
The formula has been rather successful thus far. The Hillmen ripped off 10 straight wins since their August haircuts to complete a perfect regular season, capturing the Pioneer Valley League title for the first time in the process. 
 
Over the summer, the Hillmen decided to become a shaved squad to bring back an old-time Placer High ritual. Recently the senior leaders of the team told coach Joey Montoya they wanted to get group chrome domes again. And they decided to do so in advance of the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs. 
 
On Tuesday night every single player on the Placer Hillmen football team, including some 15 junior varsity guys and three freshmen that were called up for the tournament, all got brand new buzz cuts after practice outside of the team’s weight room. 
 
The barbers included cheerleaders and Hillmen themselves. 
 
“It's for brotherhood and tradition,” said senior Tony Suverkropp, right before he split the seams of an underclassman’s blonde locks, leaving the young lad with a mullet-ish look for a moment.  “Back in the day, they always shaved their heads for tradition.”
 
Said senior Casey Yunk: “It’s a little bit of an intimidation factor.”
 
Added senior Isaiah Pineiro: “Why break the tradition now?”
 
Montoya thought it was “pretty awesome” that his players led the movement to bring back the Hillmen custom that started when his grandfather, Bill Miller, coached the team. 
 
“We got about 15 to 20 underclassman that are up. They all had long hair and bought right in. It was very impressive,” Montoya said. “It created a big mess. You had 70 kids shaving their heads. There was some hair there. I’m sure it took a while (to clean up). I’m guessing it’s probably like what a normal haircut place looks like after a day.”
 
With their new ’dos, the Hillmen hope to continue their 10-game winning streak. As the No. 1 seed in the Div. IV SJS playoffs, Placer will host No. 16 Hilmar (6-4) Friday at LeFebvre Stadium with a kickoff time of 7 p.m. 
 
The field could be a mess, as it was still wet on Tuesday night and Thursday showers probably made the field conditions a little sloppy.
 
While Hilmar enters the contest on a three-game losing skid after a fifth-place finish in the Trans Valley League, Montoya sees the Yellowjackets as more of a championship club than a 16 seed.
 
“They’re very good — very physical,” the coach said. “They have a rich tradition of winning. They play with a lot of confidence. They’re the reigning Div. IV section champs.”
 
But that title-winning team was a senior-laden group and many of the skill players graduated. These Yellowjackets are led by quarterback Beau Blaswick (452 yards, four touchdowns, four interceptions), running back Breck Smith (684 yards, 11 TDs) and linebacker Joseph Bello (103 tackles, two sacks).
 
Last week the Yellowjackets, who operate out of a spread and power-I attack, squandered an eight-point lead in the fourth quarter, losing 34-21 to Hughson (6-4). 
 
With a win on Friday, the Hillmen would host the winner of No. 8 Escalon (8-2) vs. ninth-seeded Calaveras (8-2). If Hilmar overcomes the Hillmen Friday, the Yellowjackets would be on the road at Escalon or Calaveras. 
 
The Hillmen are hopeful their newly shaved heads continue to pay dividends. 
 
“It definitely seems like a good luck charm,” Yunk said. 
 
After an unbeaten regular season, it’s hard to argue with that statement. 
 
Reach Matthew Kimel at matthewk@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewkimel