Placer punishes Rosemont in opener

Gotzmer rushes for career-high 266 yards, scores three touchdowns
By: Eric J. Gourley, Journal Sports Writer
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SACRAMENTO — With his left guard and both backups injured, head coach Joey Montoya spent Friday morning with senior Conner McKenzie, teaching his second-string tight end the ins and outs of the position. McKenzie looked like a veteran offensive lineman in the Hillmen’s season opener, opening big holes for running back Asher Gotzmer. Gotzmer ran for a career-high 266 yards on 23 carries and scored three touchdowns to lead Placer’s 32-6 rout of Rosemont. McKenzie was one of five fill-ins who played roles in the victory. “The line really, really stepped up today,” said Gotzmer, who rushed for triple digit yardage only twice last season. “They did great. I was confident in those guys. They came out and they did work.” None had a harder task than McKenzie. “I met with him this morning during first, second and third period and then went to lunch with the whole offensive line,” Montoya said. “Then we spent our fourth period football class just going over plays. Conner McKenzie’s never played guard before in his life, and he literally learned how to play guard this morning. We had to get creative with the plays we were calling. We weren’t nearly as explosive as normal, but 32 points is still respectable.” Gotzmer scored on runs of 15 and 19 yards in the first half. Placer led 19-0 at halftime before Gotzmer opened the third quarter with an 18-yard touchdown scamper. “I’ve been waiting for it all year,” Gotzmer said. “It seems like when that last whistle blew last year I was waiting for it. I love it. It’s my life.” Gotzmer rushed for 687 yards as a junior last season. “He’s worked so hard this offseason,” Montoya said. “That’s just his hard work coming to fruition. We know he’s going to have a great year.” Fullback Josh Turney, who was called up from the junior varsity team for Placer’s playoff run last year, carried 24 times for 87 yards. He scored on a 40-yard scamper up the middle in the second quarter. Turney also provided a key block in the red zone during junior Cameron Hennen’s 26-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter. “Josh Turney is going to be a great fullback for us,” Montoya said. Hennen started for Dalton Dyer, who cheered teammates from the sideline due to a hip injury. “We definitely trusted those guys to do their jobs,” said senior linebacker Josh Klem, who intercepted two passes. “It’s kind of a rollercoaster way to start the season already, but we dealt with that last year and we knew how to prepare for this game. Our guys came through for us.” “I’m just so proud of the guys who filled in,” Montoya said. “It just shows that their development is happening. Kids who really stood out to me are Kody Combs, Cody Barger and Zack Scott. They really stepped to the plate tonight. Those kids just did a great job. All three of those kids are players and heck, we may have found some different positions that we can use those guys in. The key for us is to get healthy.” Wolverines senior Marcus Spires recovered one of two Placer fumbles and returned it 54 yards for Rosemont’s only touchdown late in the third quarter. The Placer defense held the Wolverines to 176 yards of total offense. In junior varsity action, Colton Davenport rushed for two touchdowns to lead Placer’s 37-12 win. Joe Mangino and Kaydon Gower also ran for touchdowns, while David Daniels caught a 35-yard scoring strike from Johnny Foley. Jordan Rawls scored a pair of two-point conversions. Jake Callahan had two interceptions.