No love for Hillmen at the ‘Classic’
Saturday’s Holiday Classic Football Game was touted as a showcase for the considerable gridiron talent in Northern California.
The “all-star” game held at Grant High pitted a roster of standouts from the Sacramento area against an all-star team from the East Bay area.
Joey Montoya was less than thrilled about this year’s game. The Placer coach was disappointed his section runner-up squad was not represented at the showcase.
“Someone called and asked me about Asher (Gotzmer), Josh (Klem) and Michael (Gray),” Montoya said. “Of course I told them all three of those guys would be great to have on that team, but I never heard back. I don’t understand it. It’s very frustrating.”
The Sacramento roster was made up primarily of players from larger schools in the area. Del Oro’s Bryce Pratt and Travis Doupnik were the only local players selected for the team.
When you consider Lincoln’s J.J. Castillo and Jacob Tryon were on the team and El Dorado lineman Ian Joseph was selected, the exclusion of the Hillmen is a mystery.
Gotzmer was widely considered the best skill position player in the Pioneer Valley League. It would be tough to put together an all-star team in this area and not find a place for a guy who accounted for 2,412 yards and 28 touchdowns. And that was just on offense. Keep in mind Gotzmer was one of the top defensive backs in the PVL as well.
Anyone who watched the Placer defense perform this season would have a tough time overlooking Gray or Klem. Gray was a constant presence in opposing offense’s backfields. Klem may not measure out as a Division I linebacker, but he was waiting in every hole to make a tackle and sniffed out the ball on just about every snap all fall.
The organizers of the Holiday Classic no doubt had a brutally tough task. Sacramento produced perhaps the best crop of football teams it ever has in 2009. Finding the 50 best players out of thousands is surely a bigger challenge than playing the game itself.
But Placer played in a section championship game just two weeks ago – for the second straight season. The Hllmen deserved a chance to be heard from and line up alongside Sacramento’s best.
With his relentless hard work and special talent, Josh Ritchart has proven even the smallest of schools can produce big-time college recruits. The Forest Lake Christian senior is headed to UC Davis on a full-ride basketball scholarship next year.
Ritchart said recruiters primarily followed him during summer AAU tournaments, where he matched up against guys his size. He more than held his own in those games, proving his eye-popping numbers with Forest Lake weren’t a fluke.
When it comes to high school ball, Ritchart is bombarded with all sorts of defensive schemes.
“In AAU, you know what you’re going to get. You don’t have defenses designed to stop you,” Ritchart said. “In a (Forest Lake) game yesterday, a lot of times I was getting triple-teamed, so it’s a lot different.”
His experience with the Falcons has probably made him a more complete player. His passing ability and movement without the ball are underrated.
“You have to get your teammates involved,” he said. “That’s the only way to beat (the double teams). If I get a double-team, I’m tall enough to get it to the open man. It’s just a matter of them cutting to the basket or hitting the open shot.”
Todd Mordhorst’s column runs Sundays in the Journal. Comment online at www.auburnjournal.com.