A fond look back and glimpse of the future

High praise for team as Placer season ends
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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After one of the most emotional weeks of his career, Placer High football coach Joey Montoya had a tough time putting his affection for the class of seniors into words Friday night at Golden Eagle Stadium. The Hillmen lost to Del Oro in the second round of the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs. It was Placer’s fourth straight trip to at least the second round of the postseason. “It sounds like a cliché but it’s not at all — this is a phenomenal group of kids,” Montoya said. “They’ve done everything we asked of them in four years here. They all care deeply about each other and this program. They trusted us as coaches and I just can’t say enough about them.” Placer fans can dream about what might have been if turnovers hadn’t plagued the visitors in the second half, or if senior Brad Spangler had not suffered a concussion in the first quarter. But the Hillmen were proud of their effort against one of the top teams in the state. “Our kids believed,” Montoya said. “We knew it was going to be a 48-minute war, and it was. We battled the whole time.” … Placer will reload The Hillmen have plenty to be excited about next season, when the talented class of 2013 takes center stage. The defense should be special next season. Senior Eddie Vanderdoes is drawing recruiters from the nation’s top football programs and the 6-3, 295-pound defensive tackle turned in another big game against Del Oro. Jake Lewis is a force on both offensive and defensive lines. Tony Suverkropp is a tackling machine at middle linebacker and Michael Robinson is a playmaker at outside linebacker. In the secondary, Isaiah Pineiro will be back and Placer should welcome back Tyler Lipsmeyer, whom coach Joey Montoya said had a chance to be one of Placer’s all-time great defensive backs before he tore his ACL back in August. Defensive backs Isaac Brahce and Terrell Ayala are also outstanding. The offensive line will miss a stellar senior class that included standouts Mike Stangland, Tanner Anderson and Brandon Rinaldo. Tailbacks Joe Mangino and Spangler will also certainly be missed, but the Hillmen have a way of finding offensive gems each year. … Del Oro delivers in the clutch Ashwin Cardenas doesn’t like the fact that some people have called Del Oro a second-half team. The Golden Eagles were definitely that on Friday, when they outscored Placer 34-0 after halftime. But Cardenas insists that the result was a matter of perseverance, not just turning the switch late in the game. “We’re a whole game team,” Cardenas said. “We know that what we’re doing is going to work. We can be down by 40 and we can still come back and win. We knew (on Friday) we weren’t playing up to our potential. We’re much better than we showed in the first half.” Cardenas was part of a defensive unit that disrupted the Placer offense to the point the Hillmen had at least one fumble on all but one second-half possession. Though Placer did move the ball at times, Del Oro often diagnosed plays and got hands on the football in the backfield. “We made a couple little adjustments and the credit goes to coach (Steve) Birch,” Del Oro coach Casey Taylor said of his defensive coordinator. “The (forced) fumbles are something that we practice and we were fortunate to get those turnovers tonight.” … Foresthill facing a Div. VI power The Foresthill High football team is venturing into new territory with each win this month. On Saturday in Lodi the Wildfires will take on a team with some serious playoff chops. Bradshaw Christian will be playing in its third straight section title game. The Pride lost to Brookside Christian last season and won the title in 2009. The Pride (10-1) will certainly be favored in Saturday’s title game. Their only loss this season came against Colfax at the “Smackdown in Sactown” back in September. But don’t count out the Wildfires, who are riding momentum and only lost to Marysville this season.