Hillmen roll, but Centi goes down

Placer to host Oakdale in the second round
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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Darren Centi had the first quarter of a lifetime Friday night at Le Febvre Stadium. By halftime he was living a nightmare on the Placer High sideline. Centi’s injury put a damper on an otherwise brilliant night for Placer football. The Hillmen dropped Woodland 39-18 to open the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs. Placer (9-2) will host Oakdale (8-3) in a second-round game next Friday. Placer’s star receiver/defensive back will not be available after X-rays confirmed he broke his collarbone on a leaping reception in the second quarter. “He caught the ball and a guy came down on him and he just landed on it wrong,” Placer coach Joey Montoya said. “We’ll make the necessary adjustments. Now some other kids are going to get opportunities that they didn’t have before. But you never want to lose a kid – especially one of (Centi’s) caliber.” The Hillmen manhandled the Wolves in the first half. They scored touchdowns on their first five drives of the game and held the visitors to just one first down the entire first half. The speedy Centi caught touchdown passes of 21 and 59 yards from Collin Burnett. He also picked off Woodland quarterback Clay Gordon twice in the first quarter. Following Centi’s departure in the second quarter, Placer sputtered. The Hillmen did not score again until Josh Turney’s 8-yard burst late in the fourth quarter. Montoya was happy to get the win, but disappointed in his team’s second-half performance. “We didn’t come out focused in the second half,” Montoya said. “Centi’s a big weapon for us. But we still should be able to execute. Next week we’re going to have to play a perfect game to have a chance.” Woodland got on the scoreboard when junior Dalen Jones took back an interception 68 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter. The Wolves did not score an offensive touchdown until the fourth quarter, when Gordon hit Chevy Peterson for a 20-yard score. The Placer defense held Jones in check all game long. Woodland struggled to build any momentum on offense until late in the game. “We stepped up,” senior safety Josh Chase said. “We wanted to stop (Jones), that was our focus. We’ve definitely gotten better as a defense, but we still have to improve.” “We were really banged up with four starters out,” Wolves coach Bert Salinas said. “But hats off to Placer. They are going to compete for this division. We had a decent plan against their run game, but we tried to man up and send pressure and they beat us with the pass.” Burnett had an excellent night throwing the ball, hitting on 9 of 16 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns. Centi had six catches for 130 yards. The Hillmen were balanced on the ground. Junior Brad Spangler ran for 107 yards and one touchdown on just five carries to lead the way. Turney finished with 94 yards on 16 tries. Joe Mangino added 89 yards on nine carries and Michael Robinson rushed 16 times for 64 yards and one touchdown.