By Kevin Askeland
Although his team has been sailing along at 5-0 with a No. 1 ranking in the Sacramento area, Granite Bay coach Ernie Cooper felt he needed something to keep his team focused. The upcoming matchup with Del Oro was just the ticket.
“A game with D.O. is the best thing that could happen to this team right now,” said Cooper following a 50-8 blowout of the Golden Eagles on the Grizzlies homefield Friday. “They had just come off a big win (over Elk Grove) and that snapped us to attention. I’m real proud of the way our guys played with focus tonight.”
The Granite Bay win showcased all aspects of what has made the Grizzlies the No. 1 team in the Capital City. Tremendous team speed and a surplus of talented athletes have helped Cooper’s troopers to blast the likes of Vacaville (68-10), Reno (36-10), Point Loma (34-7) and Merrill West (35-0) entering Friday night’s encounter with Del Oro.
The Golden Eagles have not quite been their old selves this year. After going 11-2 last season (with both losses to Granite Bay), Del Oro was 2-3 entering the Granite Bay matchup. But one of those wins was a 27-22 victory over previously undefeated Elk Grove last week.
Del Oro gained the early upper hand, stopping the Grizzlies on their first possession and then taking advantage of one of Granite Bay’s few mistakes on the night. On a Del Oro punt, the bouncing ball hit one of the Granite Bay defenders and Del Oro recovered the muff at the Grizzly 34. Seven plays later, Bryce Pratt bulled in from the 1 for the score. Magleby scored the two-point conversion on a fake kick, taking the pitch from the holder and racing untouched into the end zone.
The touchdown drive proved to be the highlight of the evening for the Golden Eagles. Granite Bay took the ensuing kickoff and drove 68 yards on 10 plays with quarterback Ted Bryant scoring on a 17-yard quarterback sweep. Clark Partridge’s two-point conversion run knotted the score.
The turning point came on the first play of the second quarter. With the two teams tied at 8-8, Del Oro attempted a hook and lateral play from its own 26. The lateral never made it to the trailing running back and Granite Bay’s Ryan Loder was there to scoop up the ball and race 20 yards for the touchdown.
“We felt that whatever team got the defensive touchdown would probably win this game,” said Cooper. “That’s the way it’s been the past four games between these two teams.”
Granite Bay defeated the Golden Eagles twice last year. The first victory was a 21-14 win in league play while the second was a 49-14 blowout win in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs. Del Oro last defeated Granite Bay with a 14-7 victory in 2006.
After Loder’s touchdown, the rest of the half belonged to Granite Bay. The Grizzlies scored three more times to take a 36-8 lead into the break.
Partridge broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage on his way to a 19-yard touchdown gallop early in the second quarter. Following an interception on a tipped pass during Del Oro’s next possession, Granite Bay drove 29 yards on eight plays, scoring on an acrobatic 38-yard touchdown catch by Austin Nash, who leaped over the top of the Golden Eagle defender to catch Teddy Bryant’s pass. The drive actually covered 63 yards due to several Granite Bay penalties.
The death blow for the Golden Eagles, however, may have come in the waning seconds of the first half. After driving to the Grizzly 20-yard line in the final two minutes of the second quarter, the Golden Eagles turned the ball over on downs. Granite Bay still had enough time, however, to drive 80 yards on 12 plays with Bryant hitting 6-foot-4 receiver Ian Rhodes on a square out pattern in the corner of the end zone with 6.7 seconds left.
Del Oro made a spirited drive to start the second half, moving from its own 34 down to the Granite Bay 11 before turning the ball over on downs.
The Grizzlies added two touchdowns in the second half, both on similar runs up the middle of the Del Oro defense. Partridge broke loose for a 35-yard run with 11.6 seconds left in the third quarter. Brad Crisanty added a 50-yard burst early in the fourth period.
Crisanty finished the game with 98 yards on nine carries while Partridge wound up with 91 yards on nine carries. The Grizzlies rushed 46 times for 281 yards while Bryant completed 10 of 18 passes for 144 yards and no interceptions.
The Grizzly defense limited the Golden Eagles to just 76 yards rushing on 32 carries. Del Oro quarterback Mason Magleby completed 7 of 19 passes for 83 yards and an interception.