El Dorado High School’s varsity football program suffered a tough 43-0 Sierra Valley Conference loss Friday night at home to a Cosumnes Oaks Wolfpack squad ranked 13th in the area.
Facing a well-equipped Wolfpack team, El Dorado put forth a determined effort throughout the night, and while the scoreboard remained bereft of any Cougar points — El Dorado fans got a chance to see a program working hard to progress and investing in its own development with a passion.
“We’re doing our best to train the culture,” head coach Joe Volek said. “The kids are working hard every day. This is a very tough conference, and we’re going to have to play excellent football in order to win games this season.”
El Dorado football has been without a winning season for 19 years — an unlucky tradition Volek and Co. are working steadily to change each day moving forward. While the competition in the Sierra Valley is a wide distribution — with powerhouses duking it atop the rankings and a handful of developing/rebuilding programs receiving the brunt of the punishment — there’s a calm determination emanating from El Dorado’s stadium. Folks at the Cosumnes Oaks game could see that determination come to fruition in the second half.
Trailing 30-0 at half, the Cougar defensive squad came out guns blazing in the second half. Cosumnes Oaks’ two touchdowns in the second half each came at the deep end of both quarters, as El Dorado forced the Wolfpack into a three-and-out following the second half kick-off.
“I’m very proud of the way the kids came out in the second half,” Volek said. “You know, making a statement and getting that three-and-out — they (Cosumnes Oaks) wanted to put the ball in the end zone immediately, and we wanted to send a message that we’re not going to play ‘not to lose’ — we wanted to be offensive, and continue to attack.”
Prime example: Senior Nathan Wheeler.
At five-foot seven-inches tall and weighing in at 151-pounds, Wheeler’s interception amongst Wolfpack receivers well over six feet in stature gave his teammates something to rally behind and an attitude and work ethic to duplicate going forward.
“Nate Wheeler,” Volek said. “He’s a guy that shows up every day. He’s just a great kid. Hard work pays off and that (interception) is a tribute to him and how hard he’s working.”
For a rebuilding program, the pieces are slowly coming together albeit a scattered puzzle at times. Senior Clayton Van Duyn ripped off a 45-yard kick-off return and caught 12 passes for 82 yards on the evening. Sophomore quarterback Nick Bonniksen fired just shy of 50 percent and finished with 149 passing yards, while junior running back Derek Delfino had 70 yards on 15 carries.
“We never want to go out and play ‘not to lose,’” Volek said. “I’m very comfortable about where we’re at going into the back half of the season. We just need to continue to work hard and finish strong.”