Four of the five El Dorado County high school teams open their season at home tonight as the 2013 prep nonleague football season gets underway.
Oak Ridge, which went 12-2 and played for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship last fall, hosts D-III finalist Vista del Lago; Ponderosa and Golden Sierra, which qualified for the D-II and D-VI playoffs, respectively, last year are also at home as the Bruins host Natomas and Golden Sierra entertains Capital Christian; and El Dorado welcomes South Tahoe for a second consecutive year.
Union Mine travels to El Camino in Sacramento for its opener.
Vista del Lago (0-0) at Oak Ridge (0-0)
This one’s turning into a neighborhood rivalry due to the close proximity of the two schools.
Offensively for the Trojans, look for Jacob Sipes, Josh Wellman, Tanner Hughes, Justin Priest and Trent Buenzli to be factors while Victor Bunce, Colton Giorgi, Sipes, Thomas Mahlman and Buenzli lead the defense.
The Eagles also return key personnel to their mix — a fact not lost on Oak Ridge coach Eric Cavaliere and staff.
“They have a quarterback (Matt Jimison), the best running back (Josh Pfeffer), the best receiver (Brad Rittenhouse) and a starting three-year lineman (Pat Roche) returning so I expect them to be good and a real challenge for us all four quarters,” Cavaliere said. “It should be a heck of a game.”
Vista’s new head coach Mike Struebing replaces former Oak Ridge head coach Chris Jones who stepped down three months ago.
Don’t be surprised if this game is decided in the fourth quarter.
Natomas (0-0) at Ponderosa (0-0)
Ponderosa crushed the Nighthawks last year to the tune of 60-13 and with a roster size double that of Natomas, Ponderosa is favored to win tonight.
“They’ll approach the game as if they’ve got nothing to lose,” Bruin coach Jason Tenner said. “They have some new kids that are talented and the best way to describe them is that they’re ‘scrappy.’”
Ponderosa lost most of its starting players from last year’s 6-5 team to graduation. Expect returning wide receiver Josh Bist, running back/linebacker Jeff Martin and kicker Curtis Goldsmith to be factors.
Take the Bruins in this one.
Capital Christian (0-0) at Golden Sierra (0-0)
Grizzly head coach John Hilton has key players returning from last year’s Sierra Delta League championship team: quarterback/linebacker Daniel Lesher, wide receiver/defensive back Cameron Stephens and tight end/linebacker Sam Steward.
Capital Christian graduated 16 players who helped the Cougars win the Golden Empire League title last fall. The Cougars feature two-way lineman Nifae Lealao (6-foot-6, 290-pounds) and junior all-purpose player Justice Shelton-Mosley, who runs the 40 in 4.4 seconds.
Golden Sierra won its home and season opener two years ago, a 27-7 win over Capital Christian. The Grizzlies are looking to make it two home wins in three seasons.
South Lake Tahoe (0-0) at El Dorado (0-0)
Originally, tonight’s game was going to be played on the Vikings’ turf but due to smoke from the Rim Fire, the game was moved to El Dorado for a varsity start time of 7:30.
El Dorado head coach Joe Volek returns plenty of key players, including two-way lineman Dominic Morgan, wide receiver Zach Culp, running back Logan Kriby, halfback Derek Delfino and junior quarterback Nick Bonniksen, who completed 143 of 272 passes for 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns last season.
Last year in Placerville, the Cougars beat the Vikings, 40-34 in double overtime. The Cougars are looking to make it two straight.
Union Mine (0-0) at El Camino (0-0)
Diamondbacks’ head coach Dave Johnson has four running backs —Tyler Parker, Zac Kraus, Christian Beck and Austin Rigsby — who should help balance the ground game this season.
Beck and Rigsby are two of five underclassmen on the team — sophomore quarterback/wide receiver/defensive back Brody Pearman and center/defensive lineman Josh Middleton are two others while freshman Juan DeSalles has moved up to help anchor both sides of the line. Johnson said Pearman will start at quarterback in tonight’s game.
Though El Camino made the playoffs last year and won a first-round playoff game, the D’backs hope to ground the Eagles tonight.
Contact Mike Bush at 530-344-5079 or [email protected] Follow @MBushMtDemo on Twitter.