Tonight, four of the five El Dorado County high school football teams start their season with Week 0 with non-league games. The big game is Oak Ridge journeying to Folsom to take Vista del Lago and Eagles head coach Chris Jones, who was the Trojans’ head coach for nine seasons before starting Vista’s program toward the end of the 2000s.
In other action, Union Mine is hosting El Camino of Sacramento. El Dorado is the other El Dorado County high school hosting a game, as the Cougars will entertain the South Tahoe Vikings. Golden Sierra makes the semi-long trip to east Sacramento play at Capital Christian. Ponderosa will open its season a week from today at Simon-Bruin Stadium when Valley of Sacramento pays a visit.
Oak Ridge has beaten Vista del Lago all four times since the two schools started playing each other going back to when they were members of the Sierra Valley Conference and entering their third season opening the season against each other.
“It’s a a healthy rivalry,” Oak Ridge head coach Eric Cavaliere said.
An “additional attraction” to the game, Cavaliere points out, is Jones was Oak Ridge’s coach for nine years before starting the Eagles’ program in 2008.
“There’s a lot of story lines,” Cavaliere said.
One of the concerns Cavaliere and his coaches have is the Eagles’ passing attack — a staple Jones used when he was the Trojans’ head coach.
“Anytime you have a passing offense like that they can score fast,” Cavaliere said. “They (Vista) have a real strong passing game, move the ball down the field real well. We have a strong opponent in Vista.”
Jones added, “This should be a good match-up for the opener for both schools. Oak Ridge is huge on the offensive and defensive lines, and we will have our hands full with their skilled guys on offense. We are going to have to play mistake free on offense and not give up the big play on defense.”
Trojans quarterback Jason Samuels returns for his senior year. Last fall, Samuels overcame a shoulder injury to complete 65 of 104 passes for 927 yards and 11 touchdowns. Throwing blocks for Samuels are brothers Jason and Joseph Campbell.
Only two starters return on defense for Oak Ridge in defensive end Zack Claiborne and defensive tackle Jacob Proul. But the Trojans have plenty of depth at inside and outside linebackers.
For the last two seasons, Union Mine has opened its season against El Camino. The Diamondbacks are looking to get off to a running start in front of the home crowd against the Eagles. D’backs running back Sean Tow returns for his third season, and has rushed for more than 2,000 yards each of the last two seasons. Tow is looking to running lanes behind the offensive line of Hogan Fitzpatrick, Tyler Scott, Charlie Swift, Jesse Morgan and Augie Ahuna.
Tonight’s game should be just as exciting as the last two contests between the two schools. In last year’s game in Sacramento, Union Mine overcame mistakes on both sides of the ball to produce an 18-10 victory. In 2010 at the D’backs’ field, Union Mine won a wild one, 47-29.
El Dorado ushers in its fourth head coach in the last nine seasons in Joe Volek, who comes from a football family. His father, John, was the football coach at Fresno City College in the late 1980s to the mid 1990s and later became the athletic director at Sierra College in Rocklin. Joe’s youngest brother, Billy, is a quarterback for the San Diego Chargers.
A plus for the Cougars is they are opening the season at home. A victory over the Vikings should help El Dorado, which makes the long trek to Lodi a week from today to play against Tokay, a Division I school.
Look for the Cougars to come out with high energy that they are planning to carry onto the field against the Vikings, who posted a 2-8 record last season.
The Grizzlies and Cougars enter the Cougars’ den in Sacramento with a 23-player roster — each. The question becomes: Which school will leave the field with a victory.
John Hilton enters his second season as the Grizzlies’ head coach. Last season, his picked up his first win as a varsity coach with a 27-7 win over the Cougars.
Contact Mike Bush at 530-344-5079 or email@example.com. Follow @MBushMtDemo on Twitter.