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Del Oro takes SFL duel with Granite Bay

By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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The Del Oro High football team fought Granite Bay, inch by inch, for every bit of its 28-24 win Friday night. The Sierra Foothill League rivals went into the matchup with identical records (6-1 overall, 2-0 SFL). With only two games left in the season, the winner took a big lead in the race for the SFL title. “I think now we don’t have anything standing in our way,” said Del Oro senior tight end/linebacker Tanner Huber. “After that, our team goal is state.” The Grizzlies and the Golden Eagles danced back and forth for that prime positioning going into the end of league play. At the start of the fourth quarter, Grizzly senior quarterback Brendan Keeney completed a pass to senior running back Arik Bird for a 56-yard touchdown play. While it only set Granite Bay ahead three points, Del Oro had just minutes to evade the Grizzlies' humongous line. Del Oro junior running back Brandon Monroe zigzagged his way past the line on an 85-yard run off of a punt return. It was just what the Golden Eagles needed to bump Granite Bay. Monroe finished with 25 carries for 153 yards. Golden Eagle senior Nick O’Sullivan closed the deal with a 5-yard touchdown. Granite Bay wasn’t able to break past Del Oro after that. O’Sullivan had 19 carries for 87 yards. Del Oro Senior quarterback Bobby Heatherington came through when the pressure was on, completing 8 of 14 passes, for 176 yards and three touchdowns. The Golden Eagles rallied to overcome some slip-ups in the first half. Granite Bay junior Beau Hershberger intercepted a pass from Heatherington in the second quarter and soared 95 yards to the game’s first touchdown. With the momentum in their favor, Grizzly senior tight end Spencer Briare grabbed a second touchdown pass from Keeney. Granite Bay coach Ernie Cooper said special teams were the decisive factor of the evening. “The difference came down to special teams,” Cooper said. “We’ll play 10 games. We are going to play our hearts out, win or lose.” Going forward, Cooper said he knows Granite Bay’s shot at a Sierra Foothill League title is in Del Oro’s hands the next two game. Regardless, he said he hopes to rally his players to finish the season strong. “You got two really great teams – teams rated at the top of the section,” Cooper said. “They've got bragging rights right now. We will have to rally the kids. They will be down for a few days.” “I think we played with heart,” Huber said. “I think we played in the last six minutes of the game and I don’t think we ever let up.” To clinch the outright SFL title, Del Oro needs to win its homecoming game against Roseville next week and final game, against Woodcreek. Reach Sara Seyydin at saras@goldcountrymedia.com.