If tomorrow’s Oak Ridge-Burbank Sac-Joaquin Section Division I football playoff matchup reeks of familiarity it’s because these two met last season to open the postseason. The Trojans took that one 30-28 in a tense battle that went to the wire.
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More of the same tomorrow? Let’s hope so.
Offensively, it’s the Titans’ speed against the Trojans’ balance. Burbank won’t pass much and the numbers show that. The Titans boast three, 1,000 yard runners and each run from scrimmage nets the South Sacramento squad a staggering 14.36 yards — part of the Titans’ overall average of 456 rushing yards per game.
Burbank’s main threat is Isiah Williams who has piled up 1,640 yards and 23 touchdowns. Next is quarterback Earnest Jenkins at 1,103 and 16. Interestingly, in a scary sort of way, Calvin Green (10 touchdowns) has run for 1,009 yards on just 45 carries — a 22.42 yards-per-carry clip.
In last year’s matchup, the Titans ran for 323 yards.
One of the keys this time around is that Oak Ridge will have its starting quarterback behind center. Last year, an injured Jason Samuels was still on the mend and didn’t play. Samuels’ talent is vital to the aforementioned balanced scheme Troy has in their arsenal.
Another interesting factor is Burbank’s penchant to opt away from field goals in favor of touchdowns. Nothing wrong with that unless you really, really need one. Last year, three points at the end wins it — not going for six and getting intercepted trying to force the issue on a play that cemented Oak Ridge’s win.
The Titans have zero field goals this year … that’s right, zero. Hint: Stop Burbank at some point on the field and regain possession. Jenkins has run for 16, two-point conversions and Burbank does have two players with 19 point-afters — just no field goals.
Defensively, the Titans have 84 sacks on the year, 20 by Feaumonegalu Tapa. The Trojans have 34.5, led by Zack Claiborne’s 20.5.
In terms of common opponent, each is undefeated. Burbank beat Grant 36-27 early in the season and then 26-19 to open the playoffs. Oak Ridge beat the Pacers once by 28 points. Against Pleasant Grove, the Titans prevailed 32-27 last week while the Trojans downed the Eagles by 19.
Perhaps a comment from Oak Ridge head coach Eric Cavaliere prior to last week’s game against Pitman is more applicable here. Then, he said to the effect he hopes the Trojans’ tough schedule pays off.
Undoubtedly Oak Ridge plays in the toughest division. Burbank, just the opposite. The Titans outscored their Metro Conference opponents 424-36 in blowout wins over Valley, Kennedy, McClatchy, Johnson (all shutouts), Florin, Rosemont and Sacramento High.
That’s not to diminish the fact Burbank is undefeated, obviously dangerous and will play on its home field. But easily, and by far, the Trojans have lined up for hundreds of more important downs while the Titans’ jaunt through their league was a cakewalk.
To win tomorrow, Oak Ridge has to deal quickly with Burbank’s speed factor, minimize the big plays and pay close attention on special teams. Offensive, Troy must avoid turnovers, show balance to keep Burbank honest and utilize ball control that ends with points on the scoreboard.
Lets not forget. Oak Ridge needs to be physical.
And no arm tackles. Wrap the Titans up, drop them in their tracks.
Trojans by 6.
* * *
Saturday is also the CIF State Cross Country Finals at Woodward Park in Fresno. The El Dorado boys team, led by Sean Gregg, is the only county squad represented while four individuals: Union Mine’s Makana Kauhaahaa and Allison Babbage; Ponderosa’s Christine Redor; and Cougar Anne Donegan will compete.
Schedule: Donegan @ 11:10 a.m.; Kauhaahaa @ 11:45: Redor @ 12:15; El Dorado boys @ 12:50; Babbage @ 1:20 p.m.
Team awards to first through third place. Individual awards to top 10.