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Placer Hillmen football fever sweeping over Auburn as wins mount up

Plus tips on going to a Placer High School football game: Directions, admissions, parking and more.
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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A clash of Lincoln and Auburn high school football teams with identical 7-0 records is amping up community excitement. For Placer’s rejuvenated football program, Friday’s game in Auburn will be its latest on-field test as it marches toward a possible undefeated season and Pioneer Valley League championship. Bob Burge, a retired Placer High School teacher who has been announcing football games at LeFebvre Stadium for 34 years, said it’s been quite a ride for the Hillmen this year. There’s a strong possibility of a league championship and with that title comes at least one home playoff game. Burge can look back to a Hillman varsity squad that won five Sac-Joaquin Section Division II titles between 1975 and 1981. Some of those games with arch-rival Nevada Union drew an estimated 5,000 to 7,000 fans, with many having to stand, he said. “It gets pretty exciting,” Burge said. “In the past, we’ve had some really big crowds on some very cold nights.” The Lincoln football game should recapture some of the 1970s magic, Burge said. ”Lincoln is a small foothill community like Auburn and their stands will be filled,” he said. “For Auburn, the Placer team is creating a lot of community support. For some time it was the best show in town on a Friday night and I think they can bring that back.” Dr. Bill Kirby, a physician in his 30th year working with the Placer athletic department, said the football team is part of a school “with a lot of good things going on.” “Everybody should get out and watch the game,” Kirby said. “It’s almost free and it’s good community fun.” The success of the program under third-year Head Coach Joey Montoya has filtered down to the school’s junior varsity (6-1) and freshman (6-1) teams. Gene Ervin, an 83-year-old Auburn resident who has been following the Hillmen for five years, goes to the freshman games, which are usually played on Thursdays. He’s noticed that even those games are now attracting good-sized crowds. “I like to watch players on both the sides,” he said. “They’re nice young people and very dedicated. I like to see them do that kind of thing than other things.” Madi Brown, a 16-year-old Placer student and cheerleader, said that parking near LeFebvre is getting hard to find as the wins continue, even for the junior varsity games. Madi was working on a sign during leadership class at the school Thursday, one of many that will festoon the stadium. “The football team is amazing and the Gold Mine (student seating area) helps because they’re so spirited and so crazy,” she said. “A lot more people are coming to the games – whether they’re going to the school or not. We’re a small community and the games are there for all of us.” That excitement in the stands has been felt by Hillmen players like running back Josh Turney. “It helps,” Turney said. “It makes you want to play harder – to go harder every play.” Placer Athletic Director Mark Lee said the school is excited to be playing host to a game between two unbeaten teams so late in the season. “The town of Auburn has always showed loyal support of our school through times and in bad,” he said. “We expect to see our community out for an exciting game of football.” ---------------------------- Fast facts: Going to a Place High School football game -Neighborhood watch. On a campus tucked into a residential neighborhood on the edge of Downtown Auburn, LeFebvre Stadium can be a little tough to locate for newbies. Driving along High Street, take Agard and then turn left onto Stadium Way. -Parking possibilities. Placer High School has parking but with the resurgence in interest in the Hillmen you have to come early to get a choice spot in the lot next to the entrance on Stadium Way. Other lots are located on campus but for many not interested in arriving early in the Jayvee matchup, it means parking on a residential street and hoofing it. All parking is free. -Track trouble. The Union Pacific Railroad right-of-way is a tempting place for parking but is against the law. -Admission. Adults pay $6, general student admission is $4 or $3 with an Associated Student Body card, and children 12 and under are a bargain $2. Senior citizens pay $4. Junior-high students with an adult are $4 while junior-high students without an adult are $6. -Amenities. A recently constructed food bar has plenty of options, including hot dogs, soda and candy. The building also has good-sized restrooms. -Seating. No reserved seating, except for the Gold Mine block for Placer High students near the center and for the high-school band. The stadium is a mixture of concrete slabs where portable seats can be set up or aluminum benches. Bring a stadium seat to make things more comfortable. – Gus Thomson Placer High Hillmen (7-0) vs. Lincoln High Fighting Zebras (7-0) When: Varsity game at 7:30 p.m. Friday and junior varsity kickoff at 5:15 p.m. Friday Where: LeFebvre Stadium, Stadium Way, Auburn