SACRAMENTO — The bar’s been raised for Oak Ridge football, especially with a 24-4 record the past four seasons.
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While in Division II, the Trojans won many Sierra Valley Conference titles and three consecutive Sac-Joaquin Section D-II banners between 2002 to 2004.
The Trojans were considered one of the section’s top D-II teams but toward the end of that decade, Oak Ridge began to see its season’s end before Thanksgiving with first round playoff exits, including 2010, its first in the D-I of the Delta River League. To Trojan head coach Eric Cavaliere, that was unacceptable.
“There was a point where we lost our way,” Cavaliere said.
Oak Ridge turned it around. A 2011 upset of Burbank on the Titans’ field in the first round preceded back-to-back appearances in the section title game, something few section teams do.
Though Oak Ridge lost Saturday, the Trojans competed — leading once and twice trying the score before Folsom took command in the second half.
“Our team is close,” said Trojan wide receiver Justin Priest after the game. “Last year, getting to the championship game — that was one of the best things that probably happened to our team. We worked so hard during the offseason.”
The 2014 season, according to Oak Ridge junior Drew Lackowski, starts Monday in the weight room. Part of the future falls into the lap of Lackowski, plus sophomore quarterback Ian Book.
“He’s got 14 games under his belt,” Cavaliere said of Book. “He’s a seasoned veteran. Just to see his poise … we’re going to lean on him a lot next year.”
This year’s seniors have, according to Cavaliere, put the program back on the winning track.
“They went after it full-steam ahead,” Cavaliere said. “They have put us back on track, as a football program, to where we need to be.”
In his post-game speech, Trojan defensive coordinator Darren Jonutz told returning players, “You follow the example of this senior class. I’m going to tell you right now: If you’re a junior or sophomore or freshmen, and you’re within the sounding of my voice, you’ve got a lot of work to do to live up to the example of the effort and the leadership of this senior class.”
Contact Mike Bush at 530-344-5079 or [email protected] Follow @MBushMtDemo on Twitter.