Hillmen right at home

By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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After an unprecedented buffet of home cookin’ last season, the Placer High football team is ready to plate up again. The Hillmen open up a much-anticipated season tonight at LeFebvre Stadium as they host Vallejo at 7:30. Placer’s impressive run to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV championship game last season included eight home games and the first home playoff game in nearly 30 seasons. The Hillmen have won 20 games over the past two years. They’ve also been to two straight section title games, but have yet to claim a championship. The motto for the green and gold this season is, “Finish it.” Coach Joey Montoya begins his fourth season coaching at his alma mater. He introduced the Wing-T offense to the Hillmen in 2007 and the program has risen to become a power in the section. Placer has also re-established LeFebvre Stadium as the place to be when the green and gold are in town. “Starting the season at home is awesome,” Montoya said. “The school’s buzzing with excitement and wherever I go in the community, people are excited about it and asking me about the team. People are interested in seeing the team. Even at our intra-squad scrimmage a few weeks ago, we had a crowd for that, so there’s definitely a lot of excitement around it and our kids really feed off of that.” Stars Asher Gotzmer, Josh Klem and Cameron Southward have graduated, but a new crop of playmakers are ready for their unveiling tonight. “I think we’ve got the talent to do it,” senior running back Josh Turney said. “We’ve got a lot of guys ready to step up.” Quarterback Collin Burnett is back after earning all-Pioneer Valley League honors last season and newcomers Koal Swisley, Darren Centi and Brad Spangler are all dangerous with the football. LeFebvre Stadium will be buzzing with activity tonight. The newly resurfaced grass field is looking sharp and the backdrop of the train tracks just across the road and the tall trees on the east end of the field make for a homey setting. A variety of food and beverages are served up on the west end of the stadium, where students tend to mingle all game long. For most Placer fans, the real show is between the lines and lasts 48 minutes. “I think people appreciate how hard we play, how hard we hit and how competitive we are,” Turney said. The Hillmen expect a tough test from a big, fast Vallejo team. But the Apaches finished just 2-8 last year and despite their Division II stature, they have not been a formidable team in recent seasons.