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Placer smokes Hilmar

Hillmen offense lights up the scoreboard in 59-3 victory
By: Matthew Kimel, Journal sports editor
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They’re baaaaack.

Todd Valliere ran for three first-half touchdowns, the Hillmen scored 45 unanswered points in the opening 24 minutes, and any doubts of top-seeded Placer High’s offense disappearing were erased Friday night at LeFebvre Stadium with a 59-3 romp over No. 16 Hilmar in the opening round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Div. IV playoffs.

“We were firing on all cylinders,” said center Brian Sabins, one of 10 Hillmen recently named to the all-Pioneer Valley League team. “Everyone got all their blocks — our backs run like beasts. It was Hillmen football. The last four weeks have been kind of weird.”

Placer will host No. 8 Escalon (9-2) next Friday at 7 p.m. in the second round of the tournament. Escalon beat No. 9 Calaveras (8-3) Friday 44-14.

Placer (11-0) jumped out to a 3-0 lead against Hilmar on Dominic Granieri’s impressive 43-yard field goal in the slop. A 36-yard Isaac Brahce TD run, Casey Yunk pick-six and 37-yard score by Valliere put Placer up 24-0 at the end one.

Brahce and Valliere combined for nearly 200 rushing yards before halftime.

“They did so good tonight, I’m so proud of my offensive line,” Valliere said. “They all played awesome. They blocked their butts off.”

The second quarter was just as much a disaster for Hilmar (6-5) as the first. Hillmen quarterback Peter Denham connected with Stone Sander for a 22-yard strike and Valliere found the end zone twice.

“When you score that many points you know you’re doing something right and executing well,” said Placer coach Joey Montoya, whose team scored just 63 points in its last four contests. “We’ve played well the last four weeks contrary to what people believe. We just have had spurts where we’ve made some mental break downs. Tonight we were more consistent and it showed.”

Hilmar’s offense was unable to get much going against the Hillmen’s stingy starting defense. The Yellowjackets’ first-half highlights included a 48-yard completion — which was followed up by a fumble on the very next play — and a 37-yard field goal as time expired at the break.

Hilmar’s possessions in the first two quarters went three-and-out, punt, pick-six, fumble, fumble, punt, punt, punt and field goal. Somewhere in between Placer recovered an onside kick. And Hilmar’s field-goal drive was aided by a 15-yard Hillmen penalty.

Montoya was able to empty the bench in the second half, something he hasn’t had the luxury of doing since homecoming. Placer added scores by Logan Markstein and Cameron Scott — and forced even more turnovers.

The coach was glad to get his younger players that were called up earlier this week some playing time, which also kept his starters fresh.

“Really fresh,” Valliere said.  

Reach Matthew Kimel at matthewk@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewkimel