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Well-fought season comes to an end

By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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STOCKTON — Hundreds of Placer High football fans bellowed out the school’s alma mater one last time following a brilliant offensive display Friday night in Stockton. Unfortunately for the Hillmen, Modesto Christian had a few more fireworks in its arsenal in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV championship game. The Crusaders won their first section football title with a 61-40 victory at Lincoln High School. Placer came up short in its quest to win the school’s first section championship since 1981. But not before putting on a thrilling show for thousands of faithful followers. The Hillmen battled back from double-digit deficits in both halves, but they couldn’t overcome five turnovers against Modesto Christian and its explosive offense. Placer was the section runner-up for a second straight season, finishing with a 12-2 record. “The (section championship) is a hard place to get to,” Placer coach Joey Montoya said. “Getting to the show is a big deal. There’s no way you’re going to be able to do it every year, but it was our goal since the end of last year.” Placer’s seniors went out with a tremendous effort. Running back Asher Gotzmer wrapped up his career in green and gold with 199 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries. Tailback Dalton Dyer ran for 109 yards and two touchdowns. Linebacker Josh Klem could barely walk on his own after playing on both sides of the ball for 48 minutes. As a tight end he caught the first touchdown pass of his senior year in the first quarter. As a linebacker he was all over the field, chasing around the Crusaders’ speedy backs and dealing with massive Modesto Christian tight end Raymond Nelson. Senior Isaiah Burse was the difference for the Crusaders, who will likely represent Northern California in a CIF State Bowl game on Friday in Carson. Burse passed for 183 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for another 139 yards and two TDs. He often improvised on broken plays, slipping away from defenders and picking up big chunks of yardage. “You’ve got to give them credit,” Montoya said. “They executed well, even when the plays weren’t there.” For more on the game, see Sports, C1.