Calaveras looks to follow Placer’s 2008 path

Redskins rally from 4-4 rut to make postseason run
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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The Calaveras High football team is trying to pull off its best impression of the 2008 Placer squad. So far, so good. Calaveras (7-4) pulled off the only upset in the Division IV brackets last Friday, stunning Central Valley Conference champion Dixon 18-14. The hard-charging Redskins earned a trip to Auburn for a quarterfinal tilt with Placer Friday night at 7 p.m. “We were a 6-4 team last year and had a couple big upsets in the playoffs,” Placer coach Joey Montoya said. “I’m sure they’re thinking the same way.” The Hillmen pulled off a first-round stunner last season when they ousted Oakdale. Then they knocked off Dixon on the road to make the section championship game. The Redskins are playing their best football of the season when it matters most, in pressure-packed November. Calaveras looked like a long shot for the playoffs a month ago. A 31-21 loss at Summerville had the Redskins sitting at 4-4. But they gave up just 10 points combined in their last two regular season games and shut down a talented Dixon offense to advance out of the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2004. “It was a huge win,” Calaveras coach Jason Weatherby said. “We weren’t expected to do much based on our record. But I’ve known all along that our record doesn’t depict the type of talent we have.” Calaveras is no stranger to the postseason. The Mother Lode League runner-up made its 13th straight postseason appearance last week. Fullback Jake Fischer banged out 151 rushing yards, shedding his normal role as a lead blocker for star Monti Wilson. A stout Redskin defense held the Rams to just 187 yards of total offense. “I think their strength is the defense,” Montoya said. “They play with an old-school mentality. They’ve got some really tough kids. They remind me of those very good Bear River or Colfax teams. They’re very scrappy.” Wilson is normally the Redskins’ go-to back. The 5-11, 165-pound junior averages more than 141 yards per game and has 15 touchdowns on the year. “They have two very good backs,” Montoya said. “They run the fly (offense), but they confuse you with faking and deception. They mix in the pass just enough to keep you honest and they do a good job of distributing the ball.” Among common opponents, Calaveras lost to Bear River 9-0 back in September. The Hillmen crushed the Bruins 51-7 in their October meeting. The Redskins’ other losses came to Hilmar, Ripon and Summerville – all playoff teams. “Every game we’ve lost, it’s been in the fourth quarter,” Weatherby said. Montoya is quick to remind his players that Calaveras’ loss to Bear River was in Week 2 of the season. The team has transformed dramatically sense then. “It’s night and day how much different we are since then and I know they’re a lot different too,” Montoya said. “Our kids know that we’ve got our work cut out for us. I’m baffled by people thinking this is an easy game for us. Dixon was a 9-1 team that won their league title and (Calaveras) went down there and beat them soundly.” Many fans have already penciled Placer and Lincoln into their brackets for a much-anticipated section semifinal. Weatherby is just fine with that as his team embraces the underdog role. “We’d rather be the underdog than the team they’re predicting to win,” the second-year head coach said. “They’re not expecting much out of you and we can use that as motivation.”