Monday, December 31, 2012

The Best of 2012

Glad we don't live by the Mayan calendar around here. Otherwise, we'd be talking about the final year of local sports, but there's many more coming (and 2013 should be quite interesting -- more on that later this week).

2012 definitely had some peaks and, unfortunately, some valleys, just like years past. A few of them stick out in my Best of 2012 in Elk Grove-area sports:

1. Sheldon's boys' basketball team made it to the Division I State Championship game.  They lost to a superior opponent in Mater Dei, 66-48.  That was the Monarchs' ninth state championship in basketball, a record.

Kaitlin Reinhardt, now at UNLV, was the difference for Mater Dei scoring 30 points on 12-of-17 shooting. Sheldon got a great performance out of Nate Iese and Ky Thomas in the title game, until they and Ryan Manning got into foul trouble and eventually fouled out.

Unfortunately, the game will be remembered by some of the worse officiating I've seen in quite a while.  Sheldon was whistled for 25 infractions, Mater Dei 13.

What made it worse was the language I heard coming out of the stands. It was plain ugly. Since when is a "boo" not enough?

To get to Power Balance Pavilion, site of the State Championships, Sheldon had to defeat Jesuit twice, once for the Section championship and once again in the NorCal Tournament title game.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

BCS Wins Weekend Tourney

Here in a "thumbnail" is a re-cap of how our locals did Saturday in their end-of-year basketball tournaments:

West Coast Jamboree (Deer Valley H.S.)

Bradshaw Christian's girls took the "Jade" bracket at College Park H.S. by defeating Madera, 52-29. Ashlee Jones had 18 points to lead the Lady Pride. Bradshaw defeated Grace Davis and Grant, both Division I schools, en route to the championship game.

The Lady Pride are now 9-2 with their only losses to St. Mary's and a school from out of state.

In the consolation of the "Platinum Bracket" on Monday Pleasant Grove defeated Monterey Trail, 55-45. Avonna Lee scored 28 points for the Eagles. Jasmine Redmond had 28 for the Mustangs.

On Saturday, Pleasant Grove's girls defeated Kinkaid High School from Texas, 70-38. Dezja James had 27 points while Lee added 21 in the win. On Thursday, the Lady Eagles (9-2) lost for just the second time this season when they dropped a 79-64 decision to Carondelet H.S. of Concord. They rebounded Friday by defeating University-Irvine, 59-47.

Monterey Trail squeaked by Sheldon, 50-48, Saturday. Redmond led the Lady Mustangs with 18. Qiara Levy added 13 and Tiara Webb 12. The Lady Huskies were led by Daija Ward with 16 points.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Galt's Vitorio The Real Deal

Galt’s Joe Vitoria probably had very little to be happy about this past football season. His team was 0-10. In fact, the Warriors had to forfeit the game with Amador because they didn’t have enough guys to play.

Opponents were constantly scoring more than 40 points each game on Galt, but Vitoria kept on trying and was definitely the diamond in the rough.

Vitoria still put together some pretty impressive numbers playing middle linebacker – eight tackles and a sack on the average each game, plus he blocked a pair of field goals, too.

Galt's Joe Vitorio (left) with All-City Football Classic director
Mike Finnerty (middle) and Dillon Smith of Bear River
(right), the North All-Stars' MVP
Last Saturday this 6-5, 253-pounder showed football fans the kind of player he actually is. During the inaugural All-City Football Classic, an all-star game for players attending Division IV, V and V schools, Vitoria was all over the field. 

He led his South All-Star squad in tackles and was named his team’s most valuable player. The South defeated the North All-Stars, 16-12, in the game played at Del Oro High School.

“It was fun,” was about all Vitorio could say afterwards with a huge grin on his face.

He earned the praise, too, from the South’s head coach, Drew Rickert of Bradshaw Christian High School.

“It was a good defensive game and (Vitorio’s) motor just never stops,” Rickert said. “He made lots of good hits tonight.”

He said the small school all-star game was a great shot in the arm for the football programs of these schools.

“It was a very great experience for all of us,” Rickert said.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

DVC Girls Preview: Monterey Trail To Repeat

First of all, a very Merry Christmas to all of you! I hope you, like me, had a great time with family and friends over the first of our two holiday weekends.

As I wrote about two weeks ago, I have no idea who will win the Delta Valley Conference boys' basketball championship. It probably will be Laguna Creek with the presence of Malik Pope, but that's not a certainty.

The girls' basketball championship is a bit easier to figure out. Monterey Trail will probably repeat with Davis not too far behind. The rest of the teams are anywhere between average and crummy. Here's a brief rundown:

Friday, December 21, 2012

Wrestling Preview: Franklin Looks Strong

For many years the top local wrestling team has been Elk Grove and every other high school maybe had one or two guys who could place high at either the Sac-Joaquin Section’s Division I meet or perhaps get a medal at the Section Masters.

But, as a team it’s always been Elk Grove that scored high.

This winter the Herd will be another strong team on the mats, but right alongside of them on the medal stands will be wrestlers from Franklin.

That prospect has Wildcat coach Fred Marks, who is entering his sixth season at Franklin, gleaming with joy.

He’ll have a better idea of how good a team he has this season after this weekend. The Wildcats are participating at the Folsom Jailbreak Duals, where the host Folsom squad will probably be the team to beat.

Marks has the Section’s top 120-pound wrestler in Josh Villaflor and an excellent 126-pounder, too, in Antonio Jimenez. Those two guys face off many times against each other in practice.

“To watch those two are just plain fun,” Marks said.

But, Marks also has a couple top-flight guys wrestling at heavier weight classifications, too. Joey Banks, who was one of the top linebackers in the Delta Valley Conference this season, is also a terrific wrestler. He’s competing this season at 182 pounds and will use the kind of play he demonstrated on the football field on the mat this winter.

“He has good athletic abilitiy, a natural feel for where he’s going and is extremely aggressive and powerful,” Marks said.

Another member of that Wildcat football team that went 12-1 this year is Tyler Hecht who is going to be one of the best heavyweight wrestlers. Currently, the California Wrestler website ranks him fourth-best in the Section.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A New Baseball Facility for EGHS?

It’s been a badly-kept secret the past few months, but super agent Scott Boras has made it known he’d like to donate the money necessary to build a new baseball facility replacing Wackman Field on the Elk Grove campus. No one with Elk Grove High School or the Elk Grove Unified School District wants to talk on the record about the proposal, but the initial idea was to have a new baseball facility constructed by the March, 2013 event to be the primary host site for Boras’ high school baseball classic, a 32-team event which will be played over Spring Break. 

The Northern California portion of the baseball tournament will be played at McAuliffe Fields March 25-29, 2013.

Those close to the situation say architects have worked on a couple ideas that would build a mini-stadium type baseball facility for the Herd. Some of the early plans called for synthetic turf in at least a portion of the field.

Official word on the proposed plans is expected soon.

EGHS Women Wrestlers Start Strong

Elk Grove High School has a pair of female wrestlers who are doing quite well. MaKenzie Mireski is 5-2 this season, has placed second in both tournaments she has wrestled in.

Annistassia Ramirez, is 9-2 with eight pins. She has placed second, third and first in the three tournaments she has wrestled in.  Last Friday at the Lady Comet Invitational in San Jose,  she pinned the girl that placed eighth in last year’s state meet.

Browning Finalist For Mr. Football Award

Folsom’s sophomore quarterback Jake Browning is one of five finalists for Cal Hi Sports’ Mr. Football award, which honors the state’s top player.

Browning set a state record for passing yards in a season this year with 5,248. He also nearly set a state record for passing touchdowns with 63, falling just two short of the record. He was helped immensely with the 10 that he threw in his very first game (a state record tie). 

All-City Football Classic Saturday

The first-ever All-City Small School all-star football game is Saturday at Del Oro High School. The event will kick off at 5:30 p.m.

The event, being organized by Mike Finnerty of the Surewest Sports TV Show, will feature the top graduating high school football players at Division IV through VI schools.

I am honored to be the game's public address announcer. Please attend anyway.

EG Grapplers Place Second in Zehnder Duals

Here are the results of Saturday's six-team John Zehnder Dual Meet at Elk Grove High School:

Elk Grove wrestler Ethan Larrabee

Round 1:
            Elk Grove 39, Oakdale 18
            Rodriguez 56, Granite Bay 9
            Buchanan 55, College Park 21
Round 2:
            Elk Grove 69, Granite Bay 4
            Oakdale 40, College Park 32
            Buchanan 53, Rodriguez 15
Round 3:
            Elk Grove 46, College Park 20
            Buchanan 72, Granite Bay 0
            Oakdale 49, Rodriguez 19
Round 4:
            Buchanan 43, Elk Grove 12
            College Park 31, Rodriguez 30
            Oakdale 51, Granite Bay 0
Round 5:
            Elk Grove 45, Rodriguez 28
            Buchanan 41, Oakdale 27
            College Park 60, Granite Bay 19

Team Standings:
            Buchanan    5-0
            Elk Grove     4-1
            Oakdale        3-2
            College Park            2-3
            Rodriguez     1-4
            Granite Bay            0-5

Elk Grove's girls are wrestling well also. MaKenzie Mireski is 5-2, has placed 2nd in both tournaments she has wrestled in. Annistassia Ramirez, is 9-2 with eight pins. She has placed 2nd, 3rd and first in the three tournaments she has wrestled in. Last Friday at the Lady Comet Invitational in San Jose,  she pinned the girl that placed 8th in last year's state meet.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Who Will Win The DVC?

I am putting together the pre-season preview for boys' basketball for the Delta Valley Conference this week and frankly, I just don't know who will win this league.

At this point of the young season all DVC teams have records above .500. (see standings below) One team that's a bit surprising is the 5-3 Elk Grove Thundering Herd. They are led by a sharp-passing point guard in senior Connor Sutton. He's one of three returning starters for Elk Grove and he uses his intelligence to direct Elk Grove's half-court offense.

"I'm more of a pass-first point guard although a game like (against Cosumnes Oaks) when I'm looking to make shots, I mainly do what the defense gives me," Sutton said.

In Tuesday's 56-52 overtime win over Cosumnes Oaks, Sutton scored 21 points and had nine assists, 14 of those points in the fourth quarter and overtime. He quarterbacks a basketball team where the tallest guy is 6-1.

"Sometimes it's tough getting a ball when there's a bunch of taller guys, but we try to box out and get to the ball as much as possible," he said.

But with Michael Wong and Dan Goldman alongside of him, Sutton is leading a sharp-shooting Elk Grove team to wins over what many consider to be better clubs.

Sutton thinks his team has a realistic chance at the DVC crown, and perhaps he should.

"If we can shoot well, we'll surprise lots of teams this year," he said. Last season Elk Grove finished in second place under interim coach Dustin Monday. Rudy Ortega, Jr., is back as the Herd's head coach this season.

Watch out for Davis, who at 5-2, is averaging 87 points a game. The Blue Devils' run-and-shoot-as-quickly-as-possible offense has already topped 100 points three times. Interestingly, in their two losses Davis' opponents scored more than 100 points.

Monterey Trail looks tough this season.  They won the Jack Scott Invitational a couple weeks back, defeating Jesuit in the championship game.

 Laguna Creek has probably the best overall player in 6-8 center Malik Pope and Franklin, the four-time defending conference champion, has its usual great group of basketball players.

Boys' basketball in the DVC will be fun to watch this winter.

Delta Valley Conference Standings (as of 12/12)

Davis                   5-2
Monterey Trail     6-3
Elk Grove            5-3
Grant                    4-3
Laguna Creek      4-3
Franklin               2-2

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Boras To Organize H.S. Baseball Tournament

There is no California State High School Baseball championship, yet, but former Elk Grove resident and current sports agent Scott Boras has decided to help begin something that could give baseball enthusiasts an idea which teams might be the best.

He has announced plans to have 32 teams compete between March 25 and March 28 in two locations, one in Sacramento and one in San Juan Capistrano, in the First Annual Boras California Baseball Classic. According to Elk Grove head coach Jeff Carlson, there will be 16 teams compete at McAuliffe Fields, next to Sacramento State University, and the winner of the four-day event would face the winner of the 16-team field from Southern California April 13 at the University of the Pacific.

Elk Grove will be the host team for the Northern tournament, JSerra Catholic school for the Southern tournament.

The Northern California teams that will play are Elk Grove, Pleasant Grove, Rocklin, Rio Americano, Rodriguez, Pioneer, Yuba City, Del Oro, Oak Ridge, Buchanan (Clovis), Foothill (Palo Cedro),  Castro Valley, Excell Academy (Stockton), Stockdale (Bakersfield), Deer Valley (Antioch) and Doughtery Valley (San Ramon).

According to a report in Maxpreps.Com, Boras will donate $1,000 to each team that participates in the tournament.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Elk Grove Grapplers Win Mettler Tournament

Twenty area wrestling squads opened the 2012-2013 season Saturday at Elk Grove High School's Curt Mettler Invitational Tournament. The host Thundering Herd squad took the team championship scoring 84 points to James Logan's 80.

Placing first for the Herd were 114-pounder Tristan Scott and heavyweight Jaharee Taylor. Finishing in second were Braden Henderson at 152 and Ethan Larrabee at 121.

Here are some opening video round highlights:

Top-10 Team Results:

Elk Grove      84
James Logan  80
De La Salle    64
Del Oro          59
Folsom           56
Antelope        50
Oak Ridge     49
Gregori          43
Chico            40
Merced          37

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Cattolico Resigns at PG, Crabtree at Sheldon

Pleasant Grove High School football coach Joe Cattolico submitted his resignation Tuesday after his Eagle football team went 7-5 on the season and was knocked out of the Sac-Joaquin Section's Division I playoffs in the quarterfinals.

Cattolico has been the school's only football coach arriving when the school opened in 2005. In seven varsity seasons, his team's have compiled a 67-22 mark, won the Section championship in 2010 and was the runner-up in D-I twice, in 2008 and 2011.

Known for his pure football style - strong running game and excellent defense - Cattolico called plays from both sides of the ball, limited his coaching staff to just a handful, never sent coaches into the press box, seldom called gadget plays and yearly made it his team's goal to win the league championship. Playoffs were just "bonus" games, he used to say.

He was quite successful taking four Delta River League titles in his seven years. His teams developed a rivalry with Folsom, this season's D-II champion. Each of the last six seasons the PG/Folsom game determined which team won the DRL championship. Joe's squads won four of those games.

Joe Cattolico won's be strolling the PG sidelines.
His destination for next season is up in the air.

There was no reason given by Cattolico or athletic director Jeff Caton as to why Cattolico offered his resignation Tuesday. Given his success at Pleasant Grove, there's no doubt lots of job offers will come his direction.

Crabtree Resigns Officially at Sheldon

Last season Josh Crabtree took a one-year leave-of-absence from the head football coaches' job at Sheldon because he wanted to spend time with his ailing father. Today, Crabtree made it official - he won't return to the Huskies' sideline.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

McClatchy Beats EG for Cartwright Championship

The McClatchy Lions defeated host Elk Grove, 46-39, Saturday night to take the championship of the 2012 Cartwright Classic. The Herd was led by Connor Sutton with 12 points. Michael Wong added 10 and Danny Goldman, nine. That's the first loss of the season by Elk Grove, which has three wins, including an overtime victory over Florin Thursday and a five-point win over Lincoln Friday.

Saunders Arrested?

Oklahoma Sooner starting wide receiver Jalen Saunders was arrested Saturday for possession of marijuana, according to a media report in Oklahoma. There's been no official word from the school as of Sunday afternoon.

Saunders, a graduate from Pleasant Grove,  had seven catches for 108 yards in Oklahoma's win over TCU Saturday. It is likely Oklahoma will receive a BCS bowl bid after its 10-2 season, but whether Saunders will be in the lineup is unknown.

Macres Tournament Starts Thursday

The sixth annual Mark Macres Memorial basketball tournament starts this Thursday. In the opening round of the eight-team tourney, host Monterey Trail will take on West at 6 p.m. In the game that follows Pleasant Grove will take on Reno High School. Games continue Friday and Saturday at Monterey Trail High School.

Mettler Wrestling Invitational
Elk Grove wrestling coach Pat Coffing

Twenty-one schools will send their wrestlers to this Saturday's Curt Mettler Invitational Tournament at Elk Grove High School. Besides the host grapplers from Elk Grove, local schools participating will be Pleasant Grove, Sheldon, Folsom, Del Oro and Oak Ridge.

Last season Folsom was the Division I runner-ups in the Sac-Joaquin Section dual meet behind Vacaville. Elk Grove was third.

Coach Pat Coffing should once again have one of the area's top wrestling teams at Elk Grove.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Folsom Rolls Through EG For D-II Title

It was a wet and windy night at Hornet Stadium. Elk Grove made a game of it over the first three quarters, but couldn't stop the offensive machine that is Folsom Bulldog football and dropped a 44-18 decision in the Sac-Joaquin Section's Division II Championship game.

My thoughts:
Three turnovers by the Herd resulted in two touchdowns and a field goal in the second half by Folsom. Can't make a mistake against a team that good.

The Elk Grove defense was excellent and probably should have been a 7-6 halftime score, but the partially blocked punt gave the Bulldogs a 36-yard field late in the second quarter. Then opening the third quarter with a 51-yard TD pass doomed the Herd. It was downhill from there.

It was ugly to see Robert Frazier, and later, Noah Letuligasenoa get ejected from a game this important. Frazier was out of line in going after an official. I have no idea why Noah was given the thumb. I didn't see anything obvious. I will say there were a couple questionable calls by the refs, especially the pass interference call on Frazier in the third period which would give the Herd the ball on downs. But, overall, the refs were fine. I'm sure the weather affected them, too.

Lots of talent coming back next year at Elk Grove. Coach Nixon will have a nice group upon which to build a good team...but, Folsom returns virtually everyone. The road to the Section championship in 2013 will pass through Folsom.

Here are the game stats. (Read my full story on EG

Elk Grove vs. McClatchy for Cartwright Championship

The Elk Grove boys' basketball team defeated Lincoln of Stockton, 64-59, Friday and will face McClatchy for the championship of its own Bill Cartwright Classic tonight. (I wonder how many students will attend this game with the football team going for the Section championship at Sac State at the same time?)

The game tips off at  7 p.m. (the football game at 7:30 p.m.) in the Cartwright Gym.

In the third place game, Folsom will take on Lincoln at 3:30 p.m. (The Bulldogs will get to see their football team in person).

The girls' championship game will be played at 5 p.m. and Brookside Christian will face Florin in that contest.