Placer plans to protect QB Peter Denham better this week

By: Matthew Kimel / Journal sports editor
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When the Hillmen and Lincoln Fighting Zebras meet for Friday’s Pioneer Valley League game at 7:30 p.m., it’s quite possible that 80 percent of the plays called between the two teams will be runs. Despite the disparity in play calling of the two Wing-T offenses, one of the main focuses of the Hillmen’s attack will be protecting quarterback Peter Denham against Lincoln (4-3, 1-1). Last week Placer (7-0, 2-0) gave its signal-caller little or no time to find open receivers in a 14-7 win over Bear River. That resulted in Denham completing just 3 of 10 passes for a season-low 30 yards with two interceptions, including a pick-six. “We didn’t give our quarterback much of a chance,” Hillmen coach Joey Montoya said. “When you got a guy like Peter Denham, he can be dangerous.” Denham, who was sacked four times by the Bruins and hurried often, threw seven touchdowns in the three games prior to last week’s outing. Bear River (6-1, 1-1) used stunts to throw off Placer’s pass protection, Montoya said. The Hillmen, who averaged 52 points a game going into the Bear River battle, spent the past week working on pass blocking, amongst other things. Such as? “Finishing off drives and not shooting ourselves in the foot,” Montoya said. Wide receiver Isaiah Pineiro believes the offense will respond after a good week of practice. “Our offensive line is great,” he said. “I don’t know what happened last week but from here on out our O-line should be playing to their potential.” Lincoln’s offensive line has played well this season, helping a committee of speedy running backs compile an average of 392 yards per game. The team averages 10.89 yards per carry. Pineiro, who also plays safety, is one of many two-way starters on the Hillmen. He thinks the defense’s familiarity of the Wing-T will be instrumental in stopping it. “It’s a complicated offense but coach Eric Rodarte always comes up with great schemes and has everyone reading their keys,” Pineiro said. “He does a great job of breaking it down and making it simple for us.” The Hillmen will also have to keep their eyes out on the play-action pass. “They can lull you to sleep,” Montoya said of the Fighting Zebras. “Then they’ll hit you with the pass. They do what they do and they do it a high level.” Lincoln’s been putting up about 42 points a game, and will be going up against a Placer defense that didn’t allow a single point last week. “We try to do it every game, but offenses make plays, too,” Pineiro said of his defense keeping opponents off the board. “It’s always a defense’s goal to have a shutout.” Reach Matthew Kimel at Follow him on Twitter @matthewkimel for live updates from the game or tune in to 950 AM KAHI.