Placer win a piece of cake

Hillmen dismantle Lincoln, displaying a new offensive weapon, hard-nosed defense
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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LINCOLN — Cake never tasted better for Placer High’s senior football players.
With memories of a crushing 2009 loss to Lincoln lingering and a cake decorated with “Go Lincoln” courtesy of some Lincoln students sitting in their locker room, the Hillmen made both disappear in a hurry Friday night.
Placer leveled Lincoln 62-20, putting on an incredible offensive display and silencing the Zebras’ herd of running backs.
Senior Josh Turney rushed for 123 yards and three touchdowns on just 11 carries for the Hillmen.
“Getting redemption after last year and what they did on our field – that was our motivator this week,” Turney said. “We were fired up. We knew we could move the ball. We’ve got a good offense. I think they were done by halftime. We just kept hitting them and didn’t quit.”
Coach Joey Montoya opened up the playbook, using senior Darren Centi at wide receiver for the first time all season. Centi responded with four catches for 128 yards and one touchdown.
Centi also thrilled the Placer fans with an 87-yard kickoff return for a TD in the second quarter.
Placer led 27-13 at halftime and outscored Lincoln 21-0 in the third quarter to bury the home team, which won its first Pioneer Valley League title.
Now the Hillmen (2-0 PVL, 6-1 overall) are hoping to claim their first PVL banner. They visit Colfax next Friday for their third major PVL test in as many weeks.
Placer could do no wrong on the offensive side Friday night. The Hillmen needed just 16 plays to score four touchdowns. Junior Jake Callahan executed a perfect fake punt early in the second quarter, finding Tyler Graves with a 16-yard pass to pick up a first down. Turney took a handoff and fired a 35-yard halfback pass to Centi to set up a 30-yard TD run by Brad Spangler with 1 minute left in the half.
The Hillmen went back to basics in the third quarter as Turney ran for touchdowns on consecutive possessions to make it 41-13. Michael Robinson added a 51-yard TD dash to cap a third quarter in which Placer enjoyed a 21-0 advantage. In the fourth quarter, the second string piled on, with Will Slane and Roberto Esteban running for touchdowns.
“They had our number tonight,” Lincoln coach Ken Lowe said. “We didn’t have a great week of practice. They do a great job of getting to the line, getting the play off and we didn’t react fast enough.”
Lincoln’s rushing attack was stifled by a Placer defense that has steadily gotten better all season. The Zebras managed just 170 yards rushing on 44 attempts as a team. Senior linebacker Caleb Mitchell put an exclamation point on a dominant third quarter by intercepting a Christian Perkins pass after Lincoln had driven into Placer territory.
Junior Colton Davenport again had a huge night with one sack and two tackles for loss. Senior Anthony Trull blocked Lincoln’s field goal attempt in the first quarter and blocked an extra point kick later in the first half.
Several players from the 2009 Placer team were in attendance, soaking in the dominant performance by the Hillmen.
“It felt nice to get redemption for last year’s team,” quarterback Collin Burnett said. “The offense was rolling. It was nice having Centi out there. He made plays all night.”
Burnett completed 3 of 5 passes – all to his newest target, who played soccer last fall after a stellar junior varsity season as a sophomore.
Placer will face a dangerous Colfax team Friday night before facing PVL newcomers Center and Foothill to close out the regular season.
“We’re pretty confident, but we can’t get overconfident,” Turney said. “We have to keep working hard and focus on Colfax and the rest of the league.”

Junior varsity
Placer 33, Lincoln 16
— The Hillmen stormed back from a 16-6 deficit at halftime with 27 unanswered points. Tyler Lipsmeyer caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from Casey Yunk and ran for another score to lead Placer. Brendan Packheiser and Isaac Brahce also rushed for touchdowns as the Hillmen (5-1-1) rebounded from their loss to Bear River last week.

Lincoln 14, Placer 13
— The Hillmen fell just short on the road as the Zebras scored the decisive touchdown with just three minutes left in the game. Placer responded with a drive deep into Lincoln territory, but came up inches short on a fourth down play and was forced to give the ball back to the Zebras, who ran out the clock.
Placer’s Todd Valliere caught a 35-yard touchdown pass from Logan Strange in the first quarter. Valliere added a 2-yard TD run in the third. Cameron Scott rushed for 110 yards while Phillip Tuttle and Kelton McDonald sparked the defense.