Placer digs deep, buries Woodland

By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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Woodland High football coach Bert Salina knew his team wasn’t going to have an easy night Friday at Le Febvre Stadium, even with several Placer stars in street clothes on the sideline. In a game that tested the depth of both teams, Placer pummeled Woodland 60-20 to bounce back from trying 61-58 loss to Casa Roble a week earlier. A series of concussions left Placer without three regulars and limited two more players. Junior Eddie Vanderdoes took a hit to the head in practice earlier this week and the 6-3, 295-pound Division I prospect at out, along with star tailback Joe Mangino, who was recovering from a concussion sustained in the loss to the Rams. “I was a little anxious,” Placer coach Joey Montoya said. “I’ve never seen a string of injuries like this. We just played two physical teams and we’re a physical team. Eddie’s was just a fluke thing. What I’m most proud of tonight is, despite the adversity, we rose to the occasion.” The defense surrendered just one touchdown and the Placer offense piled up more than 400 yards of offense in the first half alone to bury the Wolves. Junior Jordan Ralls led the Hillmen (3-1) with 158 yards and two touchdowns on just 14 carries. Four other Placer backs had at least 63 yards as the wing-T offense was in high gear against the overwhelmed Woodland (3-1) defense. “We’ve always had depth at running back,” said junior Isaac Brahce, who came back from an ugly hit in the first quarter to score two touchdowns. “Our depth is one of our strengths. We’ve had guys go down, but we knew we were still going to be united as a team.” Woodland could not keep up. Senior running back Zach Starnes was taken to the hospital at halftime with a concussion and the Wolves’ offense struggled all game long. Quarterback Peter Denham played well in his Placer debut. The junior who transferred from Del Oro last year completed 7 of 16 passes for 90 yards and had a couple of key throws for first downs. Placer found itself trailing early, thanks to special teams breakdowns that have plagued the team in recent weeks. Woodland’s Zach Starnes took the opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown. Trevor Young added another kickoff return for a TD later in the first quarter to give the Wolves a 14-13 lead. The Hillmen responded with Brad Spangler, Ralls, Mike Robinson and Brahce scoring unanswered TDs and they raced out to 41-13 lead. A roughing the punter penalty late in the second quarter set up Woodland’s lone touchdown from scrimmage as Dalen Jones hit Adam Castelan with a pretty 44-yard pass. “We had three breakdowns on special teams,” Placer coach Joey Montoya said. “Our kickoff coverage is something we need to address this week in practice.” Placer scored on consecutive drives to open the third quarter and celebrated an injury-free second half. Jake Lewis, Johnny Foley and Tanner Jay were outstanding on the defensive line. Gonzalez got the start and held his own against an offensive line with good size. “The key for us was just doing what our coaches tell us to,” Foley said. “Our backups can play just as good as the first team. Antonio works really hard. It was awesome that he got in.” Denham wasn’t the only player seeing his first action in Placer green and gold. Junior Terrell Ayala made his debut, returning kickoffs. Ayala transferred from Rocklin High and was cleared to play by the CIF on Thursday. The Hillmen are back in action next Friday, hosting El Dorado for homecoming. Junior varsity Placer 40, Woodland 16 The JV Hillmen won their first game of the season, using three interceptions and balanced offense to take down the Wolves. Todd Valliere had two interceptions and ran for one touchdown while Austin LaBleu ran for two TDs to spark Placer (1-3). Zach Phillips added one interception and one TD. Logan Strange tossed two touchdown passes. Nate Durham and Hugo Lopez scored for the Hillmen.