No rematch, no problem for Placer football

Hillmen will host again after Sonora knocks off Lincoln
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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An eerie fog rolled into LeFebvre Stadium in the third quarter Friday night as Placer High faced Calaveras in the second round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs. Updates from public address announcer Bob Burge had undefeated and top-seeded Lincoln trailing Sonora. And shortly after the Redskins scored a second straight touchdown to slice into Placer’s sizeable lead, a streaker sprinted down the Calaveras sideline wearing only the smile on his face. Placer made sure things returned to normal shortly thereafter with another lopsided playoff victory. The Hillmen landed a spot in the section semifinals with a 43-23 victory. “It feels like we’re supposed to be here, like we’ve earned it,” Placer senior Josh Klem said. The Hillmen (11-1) also earned another chance to play at LeFebvre Stadium after Sonora finished off a 36-20 win over the Zebras, who handed Placer its lone loss of the season last month. “Lincoln losing is a surprise,” Klem said. “But Sonora put up 36 points on them so I know we’re going to have our hands full. I personally wanted another shot at Lincoln, but I’ll take another game at LeFebvre.” Placer’s win over Calaveras wasn’t without some tense moments. The Hillmen led 30-3 early in the second half before the Redskins put together a gutsy rally. Junior Chris Essary took a kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown and added a 5-yard TD run four minutes later to slice into Placer’s lead. “We hit a lull there in the third quarter and they took advantage of our mental lapse,” Placer coach Joey Montoya said. “We knew they wouldn’t quit.” Neither did the Hillmen. Senior Cameron Southward booted two of his three field goals in the second half and the Placer defense stiffened to secure the win. The Hillmen put the game away early in the fourth. The officiating crew ruled that Josh Turney fumbled near the goal line and Calaveras recovered with a chance to make in a one-possession game with a touchdown and a two-point conversion. But the Placer defense got the ball right back, stopping the Redskins on fourth down from their own 9-yard-line. Turney made no mistake on his next carry, barreling into the end zone from 3 yards out to make it 40-17. Placer turned an early Calaveras fumble into a 1-yard touchdown run by Dalton Dyer. Asher Gotzmer scored on runs of 12 and 80 yards as the Hillmen built a 24-3 lead by halftime. Gotzmer finished with 168 rushing yards on 13 carries while Turney added 78 yards on 13 runs. Klem had two big tackles for loss while Jarrad Weaver and Jake Turney were outstanding on the defensive front with two sacks apiece. “I felt like the defense played well,” Montoya said. “They did a good job containing their deceptive offense. Klem was all over the place on defense and he had a couple big catches for us. Big players step up in big games and he’s done that for two years now.” Calaveras senior Jake Fischer finished with 75 rushing yards on 18 carries to lead the visitors. He said Placer’s depth and speed were the difference in the game. “They’ve got three real explosive backs and they can take advantage of any kind of broken play by the defense,” Fischer said. “I think they’ll do well in the next round and I wish them luck.” Placer junior Collin Burnett passed for 140 yards, completing 9 of 12 passes. Gotzmer led the receivers with three catches for 57 yards. The thick, chilly fog brought back memories of Placer’s thrilling section semifinal victory at Dixon in 2008. Shortly after the fog blanketed the stadium, a streaker dashed the length of the field, halting play for a few moments before dashing out of the stadium’s east entrance. Placer’s next test will be against battle-tested Sonora (10-2). The Wildcats’ lone losses were to Division III powers Oakdale and Manteca in Valley Oak League play. “They’re big and they’re good,” Montoya said. “The run a mid-line option offense and they run it as well as I’ve seen anyone run it. Defensively, they’re big and physical.”