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CIF grid title games set for this weekend

By: Mike Ray,
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After 13 weeks of first downs, tipped passes, recovered fumbles, long touchdown runs, bad snaps, big tackles, great catches and overtimes, the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section’s top four divisional football championship games are set for this weekend.
 
Action will begin Friday night with a pair of CIF title games set for both Sacramento State and Lincoln High in Stockton.
 
At Sacramento State Friday night at 7:30 p.m., the section’s Div. I title will be decided when Granite Bay (10-3) takes on Oak Ridge (12-1). At the same time in Stockton, at Lincoln High, the Div. III crown will be decided when Oakdale (12-1) collides with Vista del Lago (12-1).
 
On Saturday afternoon, again at Lincoln High in Stockton at 1 p.m., the Div. IV title will be on the line when Escalon (11-2) meets Central Catholic of Modesto (11-2).
 
The final game is set for Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Sacramento State when the Div. II championship contest pairs Folsom (13-0) versus Elk Grove (13-1).
Ticket prices for the championship games are $12 for adults and $8 for seniors and students. Parking may be charged at the games being played at Sacramento State.
 
All four of the CIF Sac-Joaquin title games are expected to have some kind of bearing on berths to the following weekend (Nov. 30-Dec. 1) Northern California regional bowl games that will be played for the first time.
 
In different scenarios that are being tossed around by prep grid observers, one is that if Folsom can complete a 14-0 season and win the Div. II crown, the Bulldogs will be put on the board for an Open Division game, possibly against De La Salle, if the Spartans defeat James Logan this weekend in the North Coast Section finals.
 
The Div. IV game between Escalon and Central Catholic could also have an effect on Sunday’s bowl pairings. If Escalon wins, despite having two losses, the Cougars are expected to be in the hunt for a regional berth against the likes of Sutter (13-0) and the winner of Saturday’s North Coast Section Div. III title game between El Cerrito (13-0) and Marin Catholic (12-1).
 
Central Catholic, meanwhile, with a section win is expected to be a shoo-in for one of the spots in the state north small school bowl game since the Modesto school has only 377 students, far below the 500 student cutoff.
 
Monroe Shines
Over the past five weeks, Del Oro running back Brandon Monroe put on quite a show. The talented Golden Eagle running back was literally on-fire for the Black and Gold as over the past five games he averaged 222 yards rushing per contest. During that span, Monroe gained 1,113 yards and scored 15 touchdowns.
 
He finished this season – despite missing three games due to injury – with 1,542 yards rushing and 23 touchdowns. Monroe also ended his prep career at Del Oro by rushing for 3,456 yards and scoring 52 touchdowns.
 
Monroe’s rushing total missed by 44 yards of eclipsing school record holder Bryce Pratt’s 3,480 yard standard. Pratt also scored 58 touchdowns for Del Oro from 2007 to 2009.
 
Evening Out?
Following the recent Placer-Escalon playoff football game, there were some observations that the Cougars were aided in their final game winning drive in the 27-26 victory by a pair of 15-yard penalties called on Placer – that to at least some Hillman fans – were questionable calls.
 
But last Friday the old football adage that good or bad calls always even out may have left Escalon coach Mark Loureiro scratching his head.
 
In last Friday’s Escalon-Los Banos Div. IV semi-final game, two calls on the same play, this time left Escalon’s fans howling. Here’s what happened:
In a 14-14 game in the third quarter, Escalon quarterback Phillip Kimble was scrambling in the backfield looking for someone to pass to. Just as he neared the sideline, Kimble, as he got off his pass, was hit and a flag was thrown by the closest official – an apparent late hit penalty on Los Banos.
 
Further down the field, an Escalon receiver caught Kimble’s pass and managed to just stay in bounds, much to the chagrin of Los Banos’ coaches and players who on the sideline protested in disgust over the call – drawing yet another flag for unsportsmanlike conduct.
 
But following a long discussion by the officials, both flags were picked up. Huh?
 
In the explanation to Loureiro, the officials ruled that Kimble was out of bounds when he threw the pass, making him an exception to a roughing the passer call because he was already out of bounds and the ball should have been blown dead and marked where he stepped out of bounds. That of course, would then super-cede the unsportsmanlike call on Los Banos’ sideline because the pass play should have never happened.
 
Rubbing salt on the wound, one play later Escalon was forced to punt and on the first play from scrimmage following the exchange, Los Banos’ star running back James Sams broke off a 70-yard touchdown run giving the Tigers a 21-14 lead.
 
Despite all this, Escalon had the last laugh winning 42-35 in four overtimes.