Although it isn’t yet fall …By: Jim Linsdau, Sports Editor
With temperatures hovering around the century mark, it’s hard to imagine that fall is approaching. OK, OK, it’s still two months away, but the talk has already turned to football and the upcoming high school campaigns.
The three high schools within the areas of this publication are Lincoln, Rocklin and Whitney. All three of those teams made it to the playoffs last season. And, all three of them did it with a junior quarterback, which means all three should be returning for their senior year.
Yes, I know it takes more than a good quarterback to compete in the likes of the Pioneer Valley League, Sierra Foothill League and the Capital Athletic League. The real key is they all have outstanding head coaches: Ken Lowe (Lincoln), Greg Benzel (Rocklin) and Michael Gimenez (Whitney) – that’s where the winning starts.
Now, in spite of all three clubs making it into the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Playoffs in their respective divisions last year, none of them were league champions. Certainly no shame in that, considering the teams each must go up against.
Lincoln finished fourth behind Placer, Center and Bear River. The Fighting Zebras lost to Bear River by 10, Center by 12 and Placer by three. That’s just a shade more than a touchdown per game.
Sticking with the quarterback thing, only Center returns their signal caller. The Bruins graduated three of theirs and Placer not only handed a diploma to its quarterback, but also to college-of-your-choice candidate Eddie Vanderdoes, as well.
Rocklin finished behind Granite Bay and Del Oro. The Grizzlies went on to win the world and the Golden Eagles came up just a couple games short. The Thunder lost to Granite Bay by a late TD and by three to Del Oro.
Granite Bay bid farewell not only to their QB, but to the only coach they’ve ever had and he was a good one. The Loomis dynasty also graduated their quarterback and running back Brandon Monroe, also a good one.
Whitney’s No. 1 nemesis, Antelope, who won the CAL and beat Rocklin in the playoffs, did not say goodbye to their signal caller. And, he too is a good one.
The Titans’ Tyler McCombs passed for more than 2,000 yards and had a 123 quarterback rating. That was better than Joe Montana’s. And his backup, also a junior last year, had a 99 QB rating. However, Antelope did graduate its top running back.
Of course, regardless of what last year’s statistics look like, it’s what this year’s programs produce. Graduation takes place every year, injuries play a role and some players take up a different sport.
On the positive side, some junior varsity players move up to varsity, transfers come in and athletes from other sports decide to play football.
I’ve discussed quarterbacks here, but football requires filling 11 positions on offense and that same number on defense. It’s fun to conjecture, but the variables are as many as there are synthetic fibers on the field. It’s all a matter of how the ball bounces.
One gridiron sage once told me, “I don’t worry about what I haven’t got; I simply work with what I have.”
I won’t reveal who told me that, but it suffices to say that great minds do think alike.