Del Oro 'D' gets shutout

Eagles Football
By: Andrew DiLuccia, Journal Assistant Sports Editor
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LOOMIS - In the first half Del Oro High did everything it could to keep the Woodland Wolves in the game. In the second, the Golden Eagles finally decided to put it away. After four turnovers (three fumbles and an interception) in the first half and a slim 7-0 halftime lead, the Del Oro football team rebounded in the second half and improved to 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the Sierra Foothill League with a 17-0 shutout of visiting Woodland. "Four turnovers is pretty big on us. How well do you expect to do after four turnovers?" running back and linebacker Nick Huppe said. "But other than that, everybody was doing their jobs." It was the second straight week where the Eagles struggled against a tough SFL opponent, but counted on its defense to end the night with a win. Woodland came in with the league's leading rusher in Stefon Cesar, who had 608 yards in four games coming in and averaged 7.2 yards per carry. Del Oro's defense contained the quick, shifty back, holding him to just 51 yards on 16 carries. "I guess that guy was rated number one in our area, but he didn't look like it against our defense," Huppe said. "All we did all week was work on leverage because he's so shifty and quick ... we just prepared real well." Overall, the Eagles' defense held the Wolves to just 157 yards of total offense on the night and put constant pressure on Woodland quarterback Dominic Gonzales, who threw one interception. "Our defense played great all night," Del Oro coach Casey Taylor said. "(Defensive coordinator) Steve Birch had a great plan coming in. We wanted to limit their big guys and they did a great job of that." But Del Oro's biggest defensive stops were when the Eagles fumbled the ball away on key drives that gave Woodland great field position. One of those stands was in the second quarter. After the Eagles got an interception, they fumbled the ball away on their own 41 at the end of the play. A 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty then put Woodland on Del Oro's 12-yard line. The defense didn't break however as it forced the Wolves into a 24-yard field goal attempt that failed when the ball was snapped over the kicker's head. Del Oro's defense didn't get much of a break after that though as the Eagles fumbled the ball again on their own 29-yard line on the next offensive possession. But thanks to a false start penalty on Woodland and the Del Oro defense, the Wolves couldn't capitalize. "They (the defense) had a good week of practice," Taylor said. "Probably the best week of the year and it showed tonight. They did a great job of leveraging Cesar, and they made some plays when they had to." But while the Del Oro defense was keeping Woodland out of the end zone, it was Eagles senior running back Huppe that was the scoring machine for Del Oro. Huppe scored the first of his team's entire 17 points in the first quarter when he rushed in from one yard out, then stretched the Eagles' advantage to 10 points in the third quarter when he hit a 26-yard field goal. The senior then put the game completely out of reach in the closing moments of the fourth quarter when he rushed in from 10 yards out for the final score. Huppe was the workhorse for the Del Oro offense as he gained over half of the team's total offense of 266 yards by rushing for 187 yards on 37 carries. "I gotta say it was the line most of the game, I believe they were making the holes and it was just lanes for me to run through," Huppe said. Eagles quarterback Daniel Hart was 8-of-11 for 64 yards passing with one interception. Heath Simmons was the leading wide receiver with five catches for 39 yards for Del Oro and fullback Owen Quail had three grabs for 26 yards. Del Oro's final score could've been 24-0 if punt returner Heath Simmons' 95-yard punt return for a touchdown to close the first half wasn't called back due to a clipping penalty. The Eagles will now have arguably their toughest test of the SFL season this Friday when they travel to play undefeated Rocklin (5-0, 2-0 SFL). "They're off to a great start and they're a real good team," Taylor said of Rocklin. "I know they're big. They beat Laguna Creek and Granite Bay. They're going to be well-coached. We'll see what happens." Del Oro 32, Woodland 6 - The Eagles improved to 4-0-1 overall with the victory over the Wolves. Patrick Kahn had a 45-yard pass interception for a touchdown and Hunter Paul had two 1-yard rushes for touchdowns. Andrew Meteer caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from Cole Sanders and Jared Harvey had a 35-yard run for a touchdown. Paul and Jeremy Hart both played well defensivley as did the entire defensive line.