Scholarship shortage a telling sign

Sierra Scoop
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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There are a couple ways to look at the lack of recruiting attention paid to Placer County’s three remarkable football teams in 2009.
Between Placer High, Del Oro and Rocklin — all section finalists — there was a total of one Division I scholarship recipient. The Thunder’s Holden Huff signed with Boise State on Wednesday.
Some players were considered too small to play at the college level. Others were deemed too slow to keep pace in the Division I ranks or lacking in quickness to make an impact at the next level.
The staggering statistics of Del Oro’s Bryce Pratt (39 touchdowns, 2,448 yards rushing) weren’t enough to draw a scholarship offer. Placer’s Asher Gotzmer was electrifying every time he touched the ball, but he may have to settle for a walk-on invitation.
There are several other players that looked like big-time players on the field last fall, but didn’t measure out in one way or another for scouts at the next level.
College coaches may be passing over some potential gems, maybe not.
The quiet signing day is also a testament to the area’s coaches and the gutsy, team play of Placer, Del Oro and Rocklin.
Many of the top teams in the state and even the section relied on tremendous talent and individual athleticism to get wins. The foothills’ clubs found much of their success by out-hustling and out-working their opponents.
Certainly coaches Joey Montoya at Placer, Casey Taylor at Del Oro and Greg Benzel at Rocklin played huge roles as well. Their teams were disciplined, well-conditioned and remarkably prepared every time they took the field last fall.
Most of all, the foothills’ football squads proved that the collective efforts of 11 players on the field can go a long way in making up for a shortage of Division I talent.

It was a good week for Joshes in Auburn.
Placer High senior Josh Klem was notified this week that he will be honored as a Scholar Athlete by the National Football Foundation next month in Sacramento. The star linebacker/tight end was outstanding all season in leading the Hillmen to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV championship game last fall.
Klem will receive his award on March 10 at the Radisson Hotel in Sacramento along with a handful of other players in the region. Klem is the first Placer player in recent memory to receive such an honor.
Josh Ritchart was the recipient of another rare honor on Friday in Lake of the Pines. The Forest Lake Christian senior received a prestigious McDonald’s All-American nomination for his fine work on the basketball court.
Ritchart is headed to UC Davis on a full-ride scholarship next year. It’s not likely he’ll make the McDonald’s All-American Game later this spring, but nominations go to just over 100 players in the country, so Ritchart is certainly in elite territory.

Auburn’s Brad Poore reports that Jane Kibii is off to a great start to her running year after successfully defending her title at the Carlsbad Half-Marathon late last month in Southern California.
Kibii finished the 13.1-mile course in a remarkable 1 hour, 14 minutes, a pace of 5:39 per mile. The Kenyan runner who is living and training in Auburn was the top woman among more than 4,400 and took 14th overall.
Poore also added Kibii has greatly appreciated the support of many Auburn runners, some of whom were introduced to her at the Resolution Run on New Year’s Day. Kibii was the first man or woman across the finish line at that 10-mile run in Auburn.