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High hopes, high spirits for Hillmen home opener

Placer hosts Casa Roble tonight
By: Jon Schultz, JOURNAL STAFF WRITER
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Around noon on Thursday at midfield of LeFebvre Stadium, about 40 members of the wind ensemble began the Placer High School fight song. Members of a gym class laboring up the stands after running the track served as their only audience. Midway through the song, the band stopped to receive instruction, a luxury they won’t have tonight. When the Hillmen take the field for their home opener against Casa Roble, the seats will be packed, the concessions stands stocked and the Auburn community will gather to watch their team in a season brimming with high expectations. “It’s going to be a packed house,” said Joey Montoya, Placer football coach. “It should be a fun atmosphere.” Two games into the season, the Hillmen, ranked 17th in MaxPreps’ NorCal Top 25, are undefeated and have a chance to display their skills in front of the home crowd. For the seniors, it will be their last time in the excitement of a home opener at the school. “It’s hard to believe,” said senior Ari Jensen, marching band president. “I’m ready to do my best and give back to my community. I remember being a freshman out there and it’s scary as heck. You see 2,000 people just looking at you, but now it’s all excitement. Being out there on the field, I don’t know a feeling like it.” On Thursday, students said the school buzzed with excitement in anticipation of the game. Junior Christian Agostini is already in the proper mindset. “I’m going to wear some short shorts, paint my body green and gold and we’re going to go out there and cheer,” Agostini said. “Gold Mine, baby, Gold Mine.” Part of the reason for the excitement – beyond the spectacle that is a home opener – is the success the team has had under Montoya. Taking over after back-to-back losing seasons, Montoya has compiled a 41-17 record since 2007. Todd Peek, football booster club president, said expectations are as high as he can remember. Still, even when the team wasn’t a consistent winner, he said fans still turned out to support the team. “Football in this area has been a longstanding tradition,” Peek said. “As far as venues in this town, Friday night football at Placer High School, the stands are full.”