Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Morton Returns To Laguna Creek

Here's the first in a series of football previews I'm writing in the weeks leading up to the start of the high school football season:

Jerry Brown made a return to the governor’s office in 2010. Thus, in 2012, it makes perfect sense that Dave Morton can return to the football sidelines at Laguna Creek High School.

Dave Morton (red T-shirt) returns after a 14 year hiatus
from coaching at Laguna Creek
After 14 years away from coaching, the man who was the school’s first football coach will hope to invigorate a program that has won ten games combined over the past three seasons after winning nine contests in 2008. 

While it’s good to be back in football, I’ve still been on campus,” Morton told the Citizen a few months ago. “I’m older and wiser now, but still very passionate about everything.”

Morton replaces longtime coach Mark Nill, who resigned after last season in which the Cardinals went 4-6 overall and failed to qualify for the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.

“I can’t even begin to explain or measure how much I missed the game,” said Morton. “I miss the relationships with the kids, because that’s what football is all about. I had to work very hard to keep it put to the side all these years.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Golfing At Wildhawk

If there is an area golf layout that can be considered as one of the finest in design, Wildhawk Golf Club is that course. Located at Vineyard Road and Gerber Road, Wildhawk challenges golfers with rolling fairways, large, deep bunkers and a combination of short and long holes that end with sloping greens to make putting difficult at times.

Wildhawk is loaded with large, deep sand traps
If anyone two-putts a hole, that can be considered very good. 

Owned and operated by the Southgate Park and Recreation District, Wildhawk’s maintenance crew keeps the course very well watered, thus the fairways and roughs are very green and thick year round. Early morning play will mean the course seems longer because of the watering, yet shots to the putting surfaces will bite consistently.

Water comes into play on only three of its holes, #4, #16 and #18, yet those are three of the most picturesque golf holes anywhere in the south Sacramento area. Southgate has added to the beauty of these and several other holes by planting flowering bushes and grasses along the fairways.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Golfing at Bing Maloney

For sixty years area golfers, especially the beginner and the duffer, have enjoyed the forgiveness found at Bing Maloney Golf Complex. With wide fairways on just about every hole, a golfer can be right or left off the tee and still have a very playable approach on the next shot.

Plus Bing Maloney’s terrain is pretty flat so just about every shot will come off a level lie.
Traps line the right side of the fairway on #10, a severe
dogleg left hole at Bing Maloney

The greens are typically large with just a few exceptions and with not too many undulations, that allow for pretty straight rolls. Bunkers do front most greens at Bing Maloney so approach shots need to be long to avoid the sand.

And like its City of Sacramento sister courses, Bartley-Cavanaugh and Haggin Oaks, Bing Maloney is now maintained by Morton Golf and that company’s attention to detail is starting to show. Not only are the putting surfaces smooth, the fairways are kept short and the rough is about an inch-and-a half high.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Golfing At Bartley-Cavanaugh

If there’s one area golf course that demands accuracy off the tees, it has to be Bartley-Cavanaugh. Located in the small Sacramento River community of Freeport, Bartley-Cavanaugh is a links course designed by Perry Dye, the son of famed golf course designer Pete Dye.

Jen Sanchez putting on #4
Just like his father’s layouts around the country, the younger Dye has lined each fairway with mounds, made the hitting areas of most fairways a little higher than the rough. Plus, he’s installed railroad ties to define the water hazards and has placed some pock-hole bunkers next to a few greens to give the golfer the feel of playing an old Scottish course. 

Perry designed a few holes at Bartley-Cavanaugh almost exactly like his father’s signature holes found at TPC-Sawgrass in Florida. Number 17, a par-three of just 85 yards in length, is almost a spitting image of Sawgrass’ famed island green hole.

And just like Sawgrass’ finishing hole, #18 at Bartley-Cavanaugh is a narrow par four with water along the entire left side, high mounds along the right side and has a green fronted by a railroad tie wall.

Friday, July 13, 2012

A Sports Complex - or Not?

I have an item in this week's Notebook in the Citizen about talks that City of Elk Grove leaders want to see a large sports complex built. In my interview with Steve Detrick, a city councilman and a former youth sports coach, he told me that there's been several discussions about having an aquatics center, a baseball/softball complex and a soccer stadium/complex.

These discussions have been about three different sports facilities or even the possibility of there being one big facility somewhere near the Elk Grove Promenade. As Detrick told me earlier this week, "nothing is off the table."

What the City needs is sports facilities that are at least on par with what several California cities already have. That's what Detrick, Mayor Jim Cooper and other leaders want and it's for the overall good of the City's economy.

The Bee's Bill Patterson has an entry on his blog site that outlaws the altering of any non-wood baseball bat. Recently, former Sheldon baseball coach John Misplay told me that there were companies and even private individuals that were taking metal baseball bats that were not approved by BBCOR and counterfeiting the required logo onto the bats.

The BBCOR bats which are now the only ones permitted for use by the National High School Sports Assocation (NHSA) and the NCAA. Reportedly, there's quite a black market for outlawed bats that have been altered cosmetically to appear as though they'll pass BBCOR standards.

The idea behind using the BBCOR bats is that they supposedly hit baseballs equal to an all-wooden bat.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Franklin Summer Baseball

Franklin High School's baseball team, defending North Sac-Joaquin Section Division I champions, have had a strong summer season winning 14 of its  19 games thus far. This week they are playing in Elk Grove High School's 22nd annual Gary Dreher Summer Classic. 

In this video, head coach Bryan Kilby gave us an update on Wildcat baseball.

In another local baseball story, a Humboldt-area television station did a feature on former Elk Grove H.S. and current Sacramento State baseball player Will Soto.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Bradley Resigns At Valley

A week after Valley High School announced the resignation of girls' basketball coach Raymond Rucker, the school's athletic director Rod Edmiston has confirmed that boys' basketball coach Mat Bradley has also left the school.

Bradley, like Rucker, also had good success in his four seasons with the Vikings, qualifying for the post-season three times. Bradley told me Friday he'll be taking a job on the college level and that won't be official for another couple weeks. He is a P.E. teacher at Albiani Middle School, a job he'll keep for the coming school year.

Edmiston says he has had some inquiries about the girls' job, but the posting for the boys' vacancy won't happen until July 9. Elk Grove Unified's policy is that the job will be open only for inner-district applications for two weeks. If there is no interest, the school district will open the job to someone outside of the district (remember how EGHS football coach Chris Nixon got his job?). 

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Golfing At Emerald Lakes

It has become the landmark northbound travelers on Highway 99 first see when entering the City of Elk Grove. Emerald Lakes Golf Course is the city’s only public golf course and has become a fixture to the area since its construction in 1990. Purchased in 2006 by the Cosumnes Community Services District, Emerald Lakes has become a popular spot for golfers from beginners to professionals.
Skyler Quam, teeing off on #1

Matt Holm, a PGA professional and the course manager since July of 2007, says the course has become self-sufficient financially and believes that is because they’ve kept green fees affordable.

“For the person that doesn’t have the five to eight hours to commute and then play an entire round of golf, we’ve become their course,” Holm said.

Under CSD’s management, Emerald Lakes has improved the overall condition of the 2,307-yard, par-33 nine-hole layout.

“I’d put our greens up against anyone’s in the region,” Holm boasted.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Rucker Resigns At Valley

One of the most elegant-dressed high school basketball coaches, Ray Rucker at Valley High School has resigned, according to the school's athletic director, Rod Edmiston.

Rucker, known for his emotional coaching style and fine clothing, was effective at Valley leading the team to a Section final three years ago. There's no word on why Rucker submitted his resignation.

Edmiston has shared that he has no applicants for the job and the school is looking for a solid candidate.

Last season the Vikings were 16-12 overall, 6-8 in the Metro Conference.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Ortega Returns To EGHS Bench

Rudy Ortega took a year off from coaching Elk Grove High School's basketball team. Interim coach Dustin Monday led the Herd to an 11-win improvement and was named the Delta Valley Conference's coach of the year. In Jon Gudel's story in Friday's Citizen , Ortega said he's renewed and invigorated for the coming year.

Some Herd insiders have told me they wish Ortega would have stayed away. Under Monday, the team was more disciplined on the court and played better together, according to one source.

What do you think? With Franklin losing Derin Johnson who had defected to Sheldon High School, Elk Grove and Laguna Creek both have a chance at the DVC title this winter. Will Ortega's return be a positive or a negative?

By the way, an insider has told me that Johnson's desired transfer (between his junior and senior year) to Sheldon may not pass the necessary documentation. Inter-district transfers are a simple thing contrary to popular belief. Though the talented Johnson is playing this summer with the Huskies, he may not be able to enroll at Sheldon, according to one source.

Next week summer baseball returns with the Elk Grove Summer Tournament, July 10-12, at EGHS.  The Herd's top four players, Rowdy Tellez, Dom Nunez, Derek Hill and Nick Madrigal, all may not be back for the tourney. Tellez is at a baseball showcase in Georgia, Nunez and Madrigal are both with the USA teams and likely will earn a spot on the 15U and 18U rosters, respectively. Not sure where Hill is.