Young Denham waiting his turn at Placer
There’s a familiar sight on the Placer High sidelines during junior varsity games this fall.
He’s bigger now, but Pete Denham is back fetching footballs after extra point kicks and retrieving tees after kickoffs. Denham was a fixture on the Placer sideline as a ball boy for several years when his brother Greg quarterbacked the Hillmen.
Next year, Placer fans may actually see Pete behind center, which seemed unlikely just six months ago. The young Denham began his high school career at Del Oro, where he was a part-time starter for the Eagles’ freshman team last year. But he transferred to the Auburn school this fall.
“I definitely wanted to come back to my community and go to school where I live,” Denham said last week. “I love coach (Joey) Montoya. He’s a Christian, like I am.”
Denham must sit out this season due to CIF transfer rules that require an athlete to skip one full school year of athletics if he transfers schools without a valid change of residence. He said it’s been tough to watch from the sidelines, but he’s getting to know the wing-T offense and gaining good perspective.
“I didn’t know I was going to have to sit out until I got here,” Denham said. “It’s hard, but I’m definitely learning a lot about the wing-T.”
Denham doesn’t yet have the size of his older brother, who started for two-plus years at UC Davis before leaving the program last spring to take up Christian ministry. But the sophomore has a strong frame and a powerful right arm, which he developed through countless hours playing catch with his father, Greg Sr.
The Hillmen will be looking for a new quarterback after this fall. Senior Collin Burnett has excelled as the play-caller the past two seasons. Current junior D.J. Rodriguez and junior varsity QB Casey Yunk will also be in the mix for the starting job next season.
The Placer soccer team got a favor from Center Thursday night. The Cougars handed Foothill its first Pioneer Valley League loss and dropped the Mustangs into a tie for first place with the Hillmen heading into the final games of the season on Tuesday.
The Hillmen (6-1-2 PVL, 14-1-3 overall) can clinch at least a share of their first league title since 1994 with a win at Colfax on Tuesday. That won’t be the only motivation for Placer. The Falcons stunned the Hillmen 1-0 at Le Febvre Stadium back on Sept. 30. That remains their only loss of the season.
Coach Mark Miller’s Placer team is headed to the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs no matter what. Should the Hillmen tie for the league crown with Foothill, there will be a coin toss to determine the top seed.