Hillmen sail past South Anchorage

By: Todd Mordhorst/Auburn Journal Sports Editor Journal Sports Editor
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From Stockton to Alaska, the Placer High football team has yet to find a real challenge this season. The Hillmen dominated the first half and held off an inspired effort from South Anchorage, Alaska, in the third quarter to win 65-40 Friday night at Le Febvre Stadium. They improved to 2-0 on the season. Senior Joe Mangino sparked an offense that was virtually unstoppable in the first half. He had 10 carries for 140 yards and four touchdowns in the first half alone as Placer raced out to a 36-8 lead. The Wolverines fired back in the third as Dante Williams scooped up a fumble and went 21 yards for a score. The visitors put a scare in the packed Le Febvre Stadium crowd by scoring on a fourth down play later in the third, cutting Placer's lead to just 12 points. But the Hillmen roared back with three straight TD drives to put the game out of reach. Mangino finished with 149 yards. Despite the big game, he said the offense needs to clean up some self-inflicted wounds before its matchup with Casa Roble next week. "We started really strong and we kind of died out a little bit," Mangino said. "We had some dumb penalties and mistakes that we need to clean up." The first quarter was all Placer. Jake Callahan tossed a 34-yard pass to Anthony Hess to set up a 14-yard TD run by Mangino to open the game. The defense set up the next score. Eddie Vanderdoes put a crushing hit on South quarterback Zachary Lujan that caused his pass to float in the air. Isaac Brahce dove and picked it off. Three plays later Mangino busted through two would-be tacklers on his way to a 38-yard TD run. Vanderdoes and Tanner Jay converged on Lujan in the end zone for a safety to close out the first quarter. "In the first half, our defense really came to play," said Vanderdoes, a 6-4, 295-pound junior whose mailbox is overflowing with recruiting mail these days. "Our first team defense only gave up eight points. We played well the whole game." South's first-half score was set up by Michael Wilson's interception return to the Placer 1-yard line. The visitors, who traveled nearly 2,000 miles to play the non-league game in Auburn, showed some guts in the third quarter. "In the third, we just said, 'enough is enough,'" South coach John Lewis said. "Their speed and execution were not what we were used to, but we were able to turn it on and hit back in the third quarter. If we can play like that when we get home, we can beat anybody." South, the third-ranked team in Alaska prior to Friday's game, will take on top-ranked Service, of Anchorage, next Friday. Placer will also see a highly touted foe as it takes the road to face Casa Roble. "They're one of the best teams we play all year," Placer coach Joey Montoya said. "We're stepping it up two or three notches. Those are always fun games to watch."