All the ingredients are there for Del Oro (Loomis, Calif.)
to have its case presented in front of the voters, to extend a season with a state bowl backdrop.
The Golden Eagles of Loomis, the football-mad town nestled in Placer County, can offer a pedigree as rich as any program in Northern California, and the product just added a coat of gloss.
Their 21-7 triumph of a 13-0 Oakdale team in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III championship Friday night at Sacramento State was the program's second in a row and eighth overall since 1989, six of those coming in D-II.
The effort was typically methodical and at times dominant as Del Oro used its brutish ground game and stretch-but-don't-snap defense to fashion a 13-1 record.
The only blemish was an overtime loss to MaxPreps state-ranked No. 1 and national No. 5 Westlake in Week I.
And if there was ever a glossy loss, that was it as it will surely come up when the 10 commissioners from the state of California meet on Dec. 11 to debate, discuss and ultimately vote on the teams worthy of state bowl inclusion.
Del Oro targets the D-II bowl (its enrollment makes it D-II eligible though it is D-III in section play) and will spend the coming week in idle mode.
Golden Eagles coach Casey Taylor will fly to San Diego on Monday to take a peek at a potential opponent in Helix as it plays in its section title match that evening.
Taylor, truth be told, may not even need a flight. He's already hovering around Cloud 9, basking in his third section title in his 10 years as coach. Taylor's 2005 team went 13-0, and had the state bowls started that season and not in 2006, he might be closing in on his second bowl.
"We think we've done enough to get a bowl," Taylor said in between breaths Friday night, blissful bedlam surrounding him. "The season speaks for itself - who we've played, how we've played. We've worked so hard for it."
Against Oakdale, Brandon Monroe
rushed for 141 yards on 21 carries and had nifty scoring bursts of 29 and 26 yards in the third quarter to make it 21-0. He's the quick element to the ground attack and Nick O'Sullivan
is the power and fury, working for a good many of his 127 yards up the middle.
He also had 21 carries as Del Oro has masterfully offered a balanced back attack. O'Sullivan's 25-yard score made it 7-0 in the second and came after flawless line execution as he scooted to the right and raced in untouched.
That Del Oro line consists of Zach Heath
, Kevin Love
, Logan Lamb
, Ashwin Cardenas
, Dalton Hudec
and tight end Alex Bertrando
. There may not be a bluechip 5-star recruit in the lot, but it's as good a unit as there is in the state.
Bertrando, also a superb linebacker, has given a verbal commitment to play at Nevada. Love, the center who sports a 4.2 grade-point average, is off to the Air Force Academy. Heath is the third Heath brother to come through the Del Oro pipeline and he hopes to land a scholarship like they did in earlier seasons.
"Our line, it's the best anywhere," said O'Sullivan, who just earned free lunch for a week from his linemen mates for that declaration.
Del Oro handed Oakdale its last loss – 21-0 in the D-III title a year ago – and it used defense to stall and stymie the Mustangs again here. Tanner Huber
and Blake Covey
had seven tackles each, and Austin Soldano
and Hudec combined for 12. O'Sullivan and Russell Smith
each had interceptions.
After it was over, the Del Oro players raced over to their raucous rooting section aptly named "The Black Hole" with a sea of school-color black and gold.
Seemingly half the town of Loomis was on hand – the total crowd was close to 10,000 – and drowned out the Oakdale mob. Del Oro fans tailgated before the game – mothers chewed on ribs and trip tip in joy and their fingernails in a fit of anxiety – and they stood and applauded until security told them it was time to go home.
In terms of what the state CIF is looking for in a state bowl entry, Del Oro has all of the aspects to warrant notice: name profile, success in a name league (Sierra Foothill League), the guts to take on a state power in Westlake, a great fan base, an entertaining product and on-field momentum.
Folsom and Vacaville play Saturday night at Sac State for the D-II title, with both programs offering their own argument for a D-II bowl.
Now the wait.Joe Davidson is a senior staff writer for The Sacramento Bee, covering and coordinating preps in the region since 1988. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org