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Returning players key El Dorado’s outlook

COUGARS VARSITY FOOTBALL.  Photo courtesy GMG Photography

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From page A8 | September 04, 2013 | 1 Comment

2013 El Dorado
Varsity schedule

Aug. 30 - South Tahoe W 64-12
Sept. 6 – Tokay, 7: 30 p.m.
Sept. 14 – @ Brookside Christian, 1 p.m.
Sept. 19 – @ McClatchy, 8 p.m.
Sept. 27 – @ Vista del Lago, 7:15 p.m.
Oct. 4 – River City, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 11 – Bye
Oct. 18 – @ Cosumnes Oaks, 7:15 p.m.
Oct. 25 – Liberty Ranch, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 1 - @ Union Mine,  7:15 p.m.
Nov. 8 – Galt, 7:15 p.m.

Coaching staff feels Cougars are ‘dedicated’ and ‘working hard’

Team: El Dorado

Division: IV

Conference: Sierra Valley Conference — Cosumnes Oaks, Galt, Liberty Ranch, River City, Union Mine, Vista del Lago

2012 record: 3-7 overall; 1-5 conference

Head coach: Joe Volek

Assistant coaches: Mike Mitchell (offensive line/special teams coordinator); Travis Cox (defensive coordinator); Terry Cox (defensive line); Mo Palepale (wide receivers); Kenny Clark and Henry Hamilton (assistant offensive line coaches); Tim Hum (linebackers); Marty Sherin (assistant defensive line); Jeremy Ogzewalla (strength trainer); Mike Liddel (team doctor).

Key dates: Sept. 6 vs. Tokay-Lodi (All-League Wall Ribbon Cutting Ceremony); Saturday, Sept. 14 @ Brookside Christian-Stockton; Sept. 27 @ Vista del Lago, conference opener; Oct. 25 vs. Liberty Ranch, (honoring 1983 El Dorado High football team that won Sac-Joaquin Section title); Nov. 1 @ Union Mine; Nov. 8 vs. Galt, Senior Night and Homecoming.

Intro — Steve Young was the San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback, Detroit Lions running back Barry Sanders rushed for 1,491 yards and Dave Johnson was the El Dorado High football head coach.

The was in 1998, the last time the Cougars produced a winning record. Johnson, now the Union Mine football coach, led the Cougars to a 6-4 record and missed a Sac-Joaquin Section playoff berth.

Could 2013 be the year El Dorado finishes with a winning record after 14 consecutive losing seasons? El Dorado head coach Joe Volek, who doubles as the school’s athletic director, thinks so.

“It started in January when the kids got into the weight room,” Volek said. “We dedicated ourselves to get stronger. We had a lot of adversity last year, and adversity only makes you better. The kids have just been working hard.”

El Dorado beat South Tahoe, 64-12, in the season opener. The next three non-league games before Sierra Valley Conference action begins will be tough; Friday, El Dorado will host Tokay of Lodi, then have road games at Brookside Christian of Stockton and McClatchy of Sacramento.

Offense — The Cougars are in their second season running the no-huddle, split-back offense. Volek has two quarterbacks, one a junior, along with a variety of running backs and tight ends/wide receivers who can balance the offense.

Key returning players are junior quarterback Nick Bonniksen, just back from summer baseball, running backs Logan Kirby and Jeremiah Romero, halfback Derek Delfino and wide receiver Zack Culp. Center Dominic Morgan returns to help an offensive line.

The bulk of the Cougars’ linemen are juniors. The plan is they’ll improve enough each week to the point Volek and company can finish with a winning record and a possible playoff berth come November.

“We got to get better,” Volek said.

Defense — In the Cougars’ 5-2 base defense, aggressiveness is the key as the season progresses.

El Dorado has five players returning: junior outside linebackers Colby Harrington and Tallen Van Cleave, middle linebacker Jeremiah Romero, junior defensive back Brandon Ollar.

Special teams — Handling the extra-points in the win over South Tahoe were El Dorado’s Brandon Eldridge and Schmidt. The Cougars didn’t have to punt against the Vikings, but Gabe Hurwitt or Eldridge will handle the punting duties.

Conference — Volek refers to the Sierra Valley Conference as a “great conference.” Vista del Lago won the conference title last fall.

“Our junior varsity team beat them last fall so they know how to beat them,” said Volek of Folsom’s second public school. We must have a great week to be competitive.”

Cosumnes Oaks, Liberty Ranch and River City are expected to battle for the top spots in the conference. Volek feels Union Mine is the dark horse this year.

“Best coached team in the league,” said Volek of Johnson’s Diamondbacks. “Dave does a great job and his kids are always ready. Could be the surprise team of the league.”

Galt is riding a 21-game losing skid, but has more players on its roster this season (35) than last year (26).

Can El Dorado break its 14-season losing skid? If Friday’s game against South Tahoe was any indication, 2013 could be the break-out year for the Cougars.

Mike Bush

Mike Bush has been a Staff Writer at the Mountain Democrat since August 2011. Follow him on Twitter @MBushMtDemo
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