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Quick helps pave the way

Placer senior says Hillmen still hungry for a section crown
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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Joey Montoya spends the bulk of his pre-game warmup barking at the biggest guys on the Placer side like a drill sergeant. Griffin Quick and his fellow offensive lineman don’t seem to mind. They’ve responded by paving the way for a rushing attack that has piled up 2,711 yards this season. “I think it’s really important to have the head coach with the offensive line,” said Quick, who earned a spot on the all-Pioneer Valley League team last month. “The offensive line is one of the most important positions on the field. They’re the key to the offense. Our focus is on just getting a good first punch and then bringing the feet with it — getting off the ball and smacking someone.” Placer’s season has produced a script that moviemakers would drool over, but the ending has yet to be written. The Hillmen are thrilled to be in contention for their first Sac-Joaquin Section title since 1981, but they won’t be completely satisfied without a victory over Whitney (12-0) Friday in Folsom. “I actually think we’re still really hungry,” Quick said. “We’re happy with what we’ve accomplished, but we still want a championship ring. I think the whole team’s hungry for it.” A court order placed Placer in the playoffs on Nov. 24. The Hillmen pulled the upset of the playoffs with a 27-14 win over defending section champion Oakdale on Nov. 28 and followed that up with a 24-21 semifinal win over Dixon. Placer enters Friday’s game as an underdog after losing to the Wildcats 34-12 to end the regular season. “This week it feels really similar to the Oakdale game,” Quick said. “We knew going to Oakdale there would be a lot of people and the hype would be huge. I feel like it’s going to be the same Friday night. It’s going to be packed. There’s only one other game this week (the Division I championship), so all eyes are on this game.” The Hillmen (8-4) don’t boast a single rushing star like Whitney’s Zack Graves (2,481 yards). Placer has six players with at least 247 rushing yards on the season and as a team, the Hillmen average 5.3 yards per rushing attempt. The wing-T offense has produced stellar performances from junior Asher Gotzmer and senior Jake Lopez. Quarterback Matt Ross has also flourished behind the stellar offensive front. Placer’s potent attack went flat in the second half against Whitney last month. Quick said the team has thoroughly analyzed that game to see where things went wrong. “That’s one of the things we’re stressing is to learn from the last time we played Whitney,” Quick said. “We had a letdown and we have to play four quarters against them. ” Placer welcomed back center Eric Milka for its playoff run. The senior is a stabilizing force for the Hillmen. “He’s not just a great player. His experience and leadership are unmatched,” Quick said of Milka. Quick said he plans on pursuing a college baseball career rather than football. But he’s looking forward to adding to the Placer football legacy he’s helped restore with one last monumental performance on Friday night. “If there could be one thing left from this season, it would be that we started a new tradition for Placer football,” Quick said. “Win or lose, we’ve ended a long drought already, but we still want that championship ring.”