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Colfax-Placer rivalry short, but bitter

By: Dave Krizman, Journal Sports Columnist
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Although still in its infancy, the Placer-Colfax football rivalry has quickly turned into a must-see game every season. All the ingredients are there for this instant rivalry: two powerhouse programs; a game that has league title or playoff implications; two communities that rabidly follow their respective teams; players who know one another from years of head-to-head battles in all youth sports; and two communities only a few miles apart. Friday’s football game will be the sixth meeting between the two schools, and like last year’s game at Colfax, it will help determine the league champ in the Pioneer Valley League and seeding for the upcoming playoffs. The following is a review of the previous five games played between the two schools. 1990-Placer 37, Colfax 15: This was the first-ever meeting between the two schools. Head coaches Brad Baier of Placer and George Massick of Colfax bucked tradition and scheduled a home-and-home series, much to the delight of both players and fans, with the Hillmen hosting the first game. Running the split-back veer, Placer was led by Jason Stam at quarterback. Defensively, the Hillmen were led by linebacker Chris Lopez, who would later start at the University of Arizona and lead its Desert Swarm defense to a victory over powerhouse University of Miami in the Fiesta Bowl. Chris Nave led the Falcons. Nave was drafted by the San Francisco Giants and would end up playing baseball for Sacramento State. The Falcons led at the half, but a ‘spirited’ halftime lecture by Baier helped the Hillmen make a second-half comeback. 1991-Placer 35, Colfax 6: In Jerry VanLengen’s debut as Placer’s head coach was a success as the Hillmen thoroughly shut down the host Falcons. This would be the final season for retiring George Massick, who would be replaced at Colfax by John Hayes. The Hillmen unveiled the Power-I offense and were led by running back Rick Ellyson. Placer would start the season 4-0, but a series of injuries and tough losses would ultimately lead to a 6-4 finish in the Sierra Foothill League. 2006-Colfax 31, Placer 0: The host Falcons thoroughly dominated the game. On the offensive side of the ball, Colfax was led by quarterback Alex Rump and running back Mike Fucci. Linebacker Colton Russi, currently playing for Portland State, led the defense. Placer was held without a first down until the fourth quarter. The Falcons would eventually lose to Manteca in the Sac-Joaquin Section final and finish the season with a 12-1 record. 2007-Colfax 13, Placer 0: In Joey Montoya’s first season as head coach, the host Hillmen faced a Colfax team that would eventually end up 10-2, losing to Oakdale in the section semifinals. The Falcons were led by the quarterback tandem of Luke Cook and Spencer Lewis and wide receiver Jeff Devine. Placer was led by three-sport star Matt Ross and Bruno Gotzmer. 2008-Placer 34, Colfax 28: In Placer’s first victory over Colfax since 1991, Matt Ross’ 67-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Arndt on the first play of the fourth quarter would be the difference in the game. This victory over Colfax and ensuing reversal of three Placer forfeits via court order would be the springboard for the Hillmen’s run to the section championship game against Whitney.