Saturday, August 31, 2013

Wildcats Struggle To 28-12 Win Over Atwater

With a team that has virtually no seniors, well, with the big exception of Joey Banks, a talented running back and linebacker, Franklin won its season opener Friday, 28-12, over Atwater.

The defending Delta Valley Champions at times were playing like they were the inexperienced players they are, yet flashes of excellence were shown at times.

Head coach Mike Johnson talked after the victory.

Other final scores of local interest:

Elk Grove 27, Lincoln 0
Roseville 23, Cosumnes Oaks 7
Inderkum 46, Monterey Trail 12
Pleasant Grove 28, Rocklin 14
Folsom 56, Woodcreek 21
Yuba City 40, Davis 0
Grant 33, Paradise 14
Burbank 35, Napa 9
Sheldon 52, McNair 14

Franklin/Atwater Game Stats:

Friday, August 30, 2013

Kopa Cut By Eagles

The Philadelphia Eagles announced this morning that 12 players were cut from their roster prior to the NFL-mandated 6 p.m. Saturday deadline for all teams to get to 53 players.

One of those cut was Matt Kopa, an offensive tackle who graduated from Elk Grove High School in 2005. Kopa attended Stanford, but had an injury-riddled career. He has spent time on the practice rosters of the 49ers, Dolphins and Patriots, but last season signed a free agent contract with the Eagles and was on their roster for the last ten games.

His future in football is now up in the air.

His EGHS teammate, Kenny Wiggins, is listed as the back-up right tackle of the 49ers. Wiggins, who attended Fresno State, was on the 49ers' practice squad last year. He was a part of the Ravens' practice team in 2011. Wiggins stands a chance at making the final 53-man roster in San Francisco.

Former Laguna Creek wide receiver Jeremy Ross is listed as a third-string wide receiver and back-up punt and kick returner for the Green Bay Packers. Ross, after spending time with the Colts' practice squad, signed a deal with the Packers near the end of last season and was on the active roster.

It's unsure whether Ross will survive Green Bay's final cut to 53 players or not.

One other locally-based pro player, Lance Briggs, is entering his eleventh season with the Chicago Bears. He is a seven-time All-Pro linebacker for the Monsters of the Midway.

The Bee's Joe Davidson reminded me that former Pleasant Grove/Cal Poly running back Deonte Williams is still on the roster of the Raiders, listed five-deep at running back.

Williams' PG teammate, Armond Armstead, is on the New England Patriots' injury list.

Zero Week: H.S. Football Season Kicks Off Tonight

Here we go, sports fans, another high school football season is underway tonight. The schedule is as follows for this, "zero week":

Cosumnes Oaks at Roseville: this won't be a cakewalk for the Wolfpack, but they should defeat a darkhorse in the SFL.

Lincoln vs. Elk Grove: I know Lincoln doesn't have the talent of the past two years, but they still are a formidable foe for the Herd. EG should run, literally, away with this one.

Florin at Mira Loma: The Panthers kicked off the season Thursday night with a 49-6 win. Great start for Florin, who just might make the post-season!

Atwater vs. Franklin: How good will the Wildcats actually be? I predict better than Mike Johnson thinks. I'll be there tonight covering the game for the Citizen. Follow my Tweets for the game updates @EGCitizenJHull

Inderkum vs. Monterey Trail: Inderkum will be one of the top D-III schools in the area once again and I wonder if the Mustangs will stay close. Might be a good game and it's on TV tonight, Access:Sacramento Channel 17.

Pleasant Grove vs. Rocklin: The SFL folks think this is the game of the night. But, every SFL fan thinks their schools are better than anyone else. I just think PG will be a hair better, plus it's the debut of the tag team of Coach Cattolico & Coach Cattolico. That duo will make a difference in several games for the Eagles this year.

McNair vs. Sheldon: I hear the Huskies have good athletes. I like Coach Herbie Berry, but no idea what will happen tonight at Sheldon. McNair was a playoff team last season.

Maxwell vs. Bradshaw Christian: Just expect the Pride to have more than 400 yards rushing and score more than 30 points. The issue might be can they keep Maxwell out of the end zone.

Laguna Creek and Valley kick off their seasons next Friday.

One other note:

A good live chat to follow tonight will be the Preps Plus forum on Sacbee.Com. My game updates along with several other sportswriters will be posted as we file them.

Read today's Elk Grove Citizen for Jon Gudel's predictions on tonight's games, plus a preview of the year for the Delta Valley Conference, the Delta River League and the Metro League.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Live Chat Tonight 7 p.m.

I'll be a part of a live online chat with several other sportswriters around the area previewing this season's high school football teams hosted by the Sacramento Bee. We'll likely talk about several other things, too.

Here's some information and a link to our chat tonight. Please be a part of it.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Saunders To Lead OU Receiving Corps

Former Pleasant Grove speedster Jalen Saunders was recently highlighted on the Oklahoma Sooners' website in an interesting video and Q&A session.
The feature video and Q&A session with Jalen Saunders
on the University of Oklahoma's football website.

Last season after transferring from Fresno State, Saunders played in nine games, starting eight of them and ended up the Sooners' third-leading receiver. He set a school record with 15 receptions in the loss to Notre Dame.

This year he'll wear the number eight in his senior year with the Sooners, picked again as one of the nation's top teams.

SJS Media Day

On Thursday I attended the annual Media Day at the offices of the Sac-Joaquin Section. It was the best-attended session since I've been going to this annual event the past five years. The number of media outlets that now seriously covers high school athletics is growing.

Look for a more detailed story coming next week in the Citizen, but here are a few highlights of the meeting:

  • The Section will ask its Board of Directors in October to change up the method of determining  playoff teams in boys' and girls' basketball. Since 1988 a power ratings system was used, but a few big holes in that method have caused Section officials to decide they'd like the top three teams in each league to qualify for the post-season along with the fourth place school in nine leagues, the ones with the best playoff records over the previous three seasons.
  • League realignments are a year off, but it was announced that the new Delta League and the Sierra Foothill League will both get the top four finishers of its league into the playoffs in sports such as basketball, volleyball, softball and baseball.
  • The Section released its financial statement covering the 2012-2013 academic year and, for the first time in quite a while, the organization lost money. The ledger showed a $70,000 deficit. Section official Will DeBoard cited a down year in revenue from the football playoffs as being the primary reason for ending up in the red.
  • Another proposal the Section is working on is the possibility of limiting practice time for all sports. Potential injuries such as concussions were cited as being the primary motivator for considering such a rule or guideline.
  • There were more than 1,000 student transfer forms that crossed the desks of Section officials in the past year. There were an additional 834 change of residence forms also submitted. Section commissioner Pete Saco is promising a high measure of scrutiny over any transfer that crosses his desk this year. Don't be surprised a number of student/athletes trying to switch schools are ruled ineligible for the entire academic year. Saco also hinted that any parent trying to phony up transfer paperwork would be dealt with harshly.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Goldman Wins Water Skiing Championship

Danny Goldman, a graduate of Elk Grove High School Class of 2013, won the
Men 1 Slalom National Water Ski Championship title in West Palm Beach,
Florida last week. 

In July, he won the Men 1 Slalom Western Regional Water 
EGHS grad Danny Goldman in water skiing

Ski Championship title in Windsor, Colo., and broke a Regional Tournament
Record that had been set 20 years ago. 

Danny was a wakeboard and water ski instructor at the Sacramento State Aquatic Center this summer. He will be attending the University of Nevada-Reno this fall. Goldman was a starter the past two years on the Thundering Herd basketball team.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Laguna Loses In Ripken Semis; Football Live TV Schedule Announced

The Laguna Bandits' baseball season is over. The Bandits were defeated Friday night in the semi-finals of the U.S. Championships of the Cal Ripken Age 12-and-under World Series in Aberdeen, Maryland.

Southeast built an early lead against Laguna, the Pacific Southwest regional champions, scoring three runs in the first inning, en route to a 6-4 win on Friday at Cal Sr.’s Yard. Southeast will now advance to the US Championship bracket today.

Even Laguna’s runs on an error in the third inning, an error in the fourth inning, and a two-run double by Jonah Ira in the fifth inning, could not add up to Southeast’s offense. Tucker Jackson went a perfect 2-2 at the dish for Southeast. He homered in the first inning and singled in the third inning. 

Southeast’s pitcher Ryan Sholar had an impressive outing against the Bandit’s lineup. Ryan held the team hitless over two innings, allowed no earned runs, walked one and struck out six. 

Tucker got the win for Southeast, allowing two runs over four innings. He struck out eight, walked three and surrendered three hits.

Access:Sacramento Announces Live H.S. Football TV Schedule

Access Sacramento will broadcast 11 live Friday night regular-season high school
football games beginning Aug. 30 with Inderkum at Monterey Trail in what is known as
Week Zero.

Other non-league contests feature Burbank at Pleasant Grove Sept 6 and Franklin (EG) at Cosumnes Oaks Sept. 20. 

The veteran broadcast team of Play-by-Play announcer Will James and CIF Sac-Joaquin
Section Hall of Fame Coach/Administrator and TV Color Announcer Jim Dimino host
the broadcasts, continuing a partnership that began in 1996.

The planned broadcast TV schedule (subject to change) is:

Aug. 30 Inderkum @ Monterey Trail
Sept. 6 Burbank vs. Pleasant Grove @ Sheldon
Sept. 13 Antelope @ Rio Linda
Sept. 20 Franklin @ Cosumnes Oaks
Sept. 27 Rocklin @ Inderkum
Oct. 4 Pioneer @ Cordova
Oct. 11 Oak Ridge @ Folsom
Oct. 18 Rio Linda vs. Christian Brothers @ Hughes Stadium
Oct. 25 Christian Brothers @ Del Campo
Nov. 1 Jesuit @ Sheldon
Nov. 8 Folsom vs. Pleasant Grove @ Sheldon

All broadcasts begin at 7 p.m. on Comcast and SureWest Cable channel 17, and AT&T
U-Verse Ch. 99.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

McGrew Hired At Sheldon; Laguna Loses At Ripken W.S.

Matt McGrew, an assistant coach at Monterey Trail last year and a former Menlo College player, has been hired to be the next varsity baseball coach at Sheldon. He replaces Mike Hughes who resigned following the 2013 season after two years.

McGrew is a graduate of Capuchino High School in San Bruno and earned his degree from Menlo in 2007. He also coached at Crystal Springs Upland School before coming to Monterey Trail.

Laguna Loses At Ripken World Series

The 12-year-old team from Laguna Youth Baseball lost for the first time at the Cal Ripken World Series in Maryland on Tuesday to a team from Mountain Home, Arkansas, 6-5 in seven innings.

The Bandits were down 2-1 going into the sixth inning, but scored four runs to take the lead. However, the Arkansas team, representing the Southwest Region, tied the game in the bottom of the inning. They won the game with a RBI double by Luke Jackson off Reed Blanton, plating Austin Mize in the bottom of the seventh.

 Luke Dibble racked up three RBIs on two hits for Southwest. He homered in the fifth inning and doubled in the sixth inning. Luke Jackson got the win in relief for Southwest, pitching 1 1/3 innings and allowed no runs.

Despite the loss, Laguna will play in the U.S. Championship's semi-final round Friday. The Bandits were 3-1 in pool play.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Laguna Assured Of Semis In Ripken World Series

The Laguna Bandits pretty much assured themselves a spot in the semi-finals of the U.S. Championship in the Cal Ripken World Series. They defeated a team from Meridian, Idaho, 12-5 in an early game on Monday.

The Bandits, representing the Pacific Southwest region, are now 3-0 in pool play.

Laguna started the game strong scoring six runs in the first on an RBI single by Cole Bendle, a wild pitch, a two-run double by Carson Stevens, a sacrifice fly by Christopher Long and an RBI double by Riley Sikora. In the second, Meridian answered with a run by Carson Smith, followed by a run from Nicholas Romano. Smith was in control on the mound and managed to hold Laguna hitless over 1 2/3 innings, allowing no earned runs. Meridian refused to give up the game and scored in the third and fourth to narrow the score to 7-5. But, the Bandit’s strong offense came back to score five additional runs in the top of the sixth to end the game.

"When you go up and score six runs in the first inning, you stop swinging for base hits and start swinging for home runs," Bandit's coach Mike Stevens said afterwards. "It's a never give up. Work hard and wins will come."

The Bandits will take on a the Southwest Regional champion from Mountain Home, Arkansas, at 2 p.m. ET today. You can follow the game live via the Cal Ripken website.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Hernandez Shipped To Minors

After giving up a pair of runs Saturday in the 8th inning of the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-1 loss to the New York Mets, relief pitcher David Hernandez was demoted to Triple-A Reno.

The former Elk Grove H.S. and Cosumnes River College right-hander has now been scored upon in five of his last six appearances — giving up nine earned runs in five innings (16.20 ERA) in that span.
David Hernandez, now with
the Reno Aces of the PCL

“It’s been a pretty rough year,” Hernandez told the Arizona Republic. “There’s no reason to go down and pout about it. I’ve been sent down before and I’ve always come back better. Hopefully, that’s what will happen.”

In 48 relief appearances with the D-backs, Hernandez is 4-6 with a 5.59 ERA.

Laguna Bandits Now 3-0 at Ripken WS

After three days of pool play the Laguna Bandits are 3-0 at the Age 12-and-under Cal Ripken World Series in Maryland.

Monday morning, the Bandits, representing the Pacific Southwest region, defeated a squad from Meridian, Idaho, 12-5. Laguna scored six times in the first inning and tacked on another five in the sixth to rout the club representing the Pacific Northwest.

On Sunday the Bandits defeated Maryland, 8-4. Jonah Ira went 3-3 at the plate. He singled in the third inning and doubled in the first and fifth innings. Reed Blanton got the win for the Bandits. He allowed one run over four innings, struck out four, walked three and surrendered two hits. 

The fifth inning got off to a hot start when Jino Enriquez homered. That was followed up by Cole Bendle's two-run blast.

Laguna opened the World Series' action with an 11-6 win Saturday over New Milford, Conn. Despite a tough day on the mound, Laguna's offense banged out 11 runs to pick up the slack and secure the win.  Enriquez racked up three RBIs on three hits for Laguna.

The Bandits play a team from the Southwest Region at 8 p.m. ET Tuesday. If they win that game, Laguna will be in the semi-finals of the U.S. Championship on Friday.  (Photos from the Cal Ripken World Series)

Gill Competes In National Tournament

Sumeet Gill, a junior at Pleasant Grove High, was a team member of the Synergy Force Volleyball club in Sacramento that placed fifth at the Girls Junior National Volleyball Championships July 2nd-5th in Dallas. Her team had a record of 8-1 in the tournament. 
Sumeet Gill, junior at Pleasant Grove
High School

Gill was selected for the All-Tournament Team Award. She is a 6'2 middle blocker/ hitter who has verbally committed to University of Oregon. 

Football Camps Open Today

It's a big day for high school football players because today is the first day of practices. Most clubs will have three long days of workouts before the first day of school on Thursday.

Our team previews are running in each edition of the Elk Grove Citizen this month.

Follow me on Twitter @EGCitizenJHull

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Laguna Creek To Re-Locate Football Home In 2014

When Laguna Creek High School moves its athletic competition to the Metro Conference in 2014,  Cardinal football will also be relocating. School athletic director Brian LoForte confirmed today that the Cardinals will play its home football games at Cosumnes River College, sharing the newly remodeled stadium with neighboring Valley High School, also a member of the Metro.

Since the school opened in 1994, Laguna Creek has shared the football/track facility at Elk Grove High School with the Thundering Herd. Now with the Cardinals moving to the new league, it will be easier to share the CRC stadium with Valley.

That will mean Elk Grove will have its football/soccer field to its own.

Could that mean the stadium could finally be named in honor of one or two of the many men who have either played or coached in that place? How about (Lance)Briggs/(Dave)Hoskins Field?

Give me your input on this one, please. Leave a comment below......

Kaylor Part Of National Championship Team
Sheldon's Anessa Kaylor with her
championship trophy earned last

Anessa Kaylor, a shortstop on Sheldon High School’s softball team, was part of a team from Huntington Beach, CA that won the 18U Premier Girls Fastpitch Platinum National Championship.  Kaylor plays for Strike Force softball and travels to Southern California to play for the team nearly every weekend.   

She is the only Nor Cal player on her team.  Strike Force finished the tournament with a record of 7-1, and beat the Central California Dirt Dogs in the championship game, 10-0.  Seventy-two teams were entered into the tournament from all over the country.  For the tournament Kaylor went 18-37 (.486 average) three homeruns, four doubles, 11 RBI's and ten runs scored.  

Emerald Lakes To Host Tournament

Emerald Lakes Golf Course will be hosting its Annual Amateur Golf Tournament. The Tournament will kick off on Saturday, August 31 at the Emerald Lakes Golf Course, 10651 East Stockton Boulevard, Elk Grove at 8:00 A.M. and registration fee is $60.00.

Men’s and Women’s divisions are available. Participants will enjoy 18 holes of golf, BBQ lunch and prize fund. Prizes will be awarded using an NCGA Handicap; one overall low gross winner.

For more information contact Nelson Hirst, PGA Head Golf Professional, at 916-685-4653 or

Follow me on Twitter @EGCitizenJHull

Monday, August 05, 2013

Freitas Brings His Own Cheering Section

There’s quite a crowd of people around the Sacramento River Cats’ dugout after their home games these days. That’s because the family and friends of David Freitas stand at the fence waiting for the former Elk Grove High School and Cosumnes River College star to put away his catching gear and bats and walk up the dugout steps to greet everyone.

About ten to fifteen minutes of hugs and handshakes follow – former high school teammates, friends and relatives taking quick photos to share on Facebook. The whole time Freitas assures Raley Field security, it’s fine, “they’re my family.” 
River Cats catcher David Freitas signs autograph for a
pair of fans following Saturday's game at Raley Field

With a month to go in the regular season for the River Cats, the crew of Raley Field will have to get used to it. It’s happened after every home game since July 25 when Frietas was called up from Double-A Midland to replace Stephen Vogt who was recalled by the parent major league franchise, the Oakland A’s.

It’s not too often this kind of thing happens to pro baseball players. There aren’t many offered the chance to play so near to home.

Freitas is living his boyhood dream, playing professionally for the A’s organization. It all became a reality when about a year ago Oakland traded starting major league catcher Kirk Suzuki to the Washington Nationals for Freitas.

The scenario was then set. Now he’s one step, one injury, one decision away from the American League.

Freitas grew up in Wilton, about 20 miles away from Raley Field. He played youth baseball for Cosumnes Little League, and later, Elk Grove Cal Ripken. Unlike his River Cat teammates, he gets to go home, his real home, after every game.

“Got to love that home cookin’,” he chuckled.

With the Saturday night fireworks exploding in the skies, he finishes his final greetings. There’s one last hug for his mother, Cheryl, a wave to younger brother, Kyle, and a kiss for fiancĂ©, Kacee Taylor, and he’s walking towards the River Cats’ clubhouse, a spacious facility just beyond the left field fence.

“That’s awesome,” he says as he’s toting his equipment bag. “They didn’t always get to see my games (when he played out-of-state). But, now that I’m here they are always here.”
The centerfield scoreboard at Raley Field announcing
Freitas is at bat.

He stops to autograph every baseball and program offered to him by young boys hanging over the fence along the third base line. Freitas is starting to build a posse of fans, most of who probably never saw him stroking home runs and throwing out base runners for the Thundering Herd or the Hawks. He grinned as he briefly talked about his high school days winning three consecutive Sac-Joaquin Section championships between 2005 and 2007.

“I have to say, ‘congrats (to the 2013 Herd that won the Section title)’,” Freitas remarked. “(Herd head coach Jeff) Carlson always has a good club and I’m always pulling for them.”

Now six years later, in his fourth professional season, the 6-3 Freitas has grown into a rock-solid 230 pounds, very much the size of most major league catchers.

He was the River Cats’ opening day catcher and played the first five games for Sacramento. The A’s had a chance to obtain Vogt, another promising catcher, from Tampa Bay so Vogt came to Sacramento and Freitas was shipped to Midland. He played there at the end of the 2012 season after the trade from the Nationals. 
Freitas walks with River Cats' starting pitcher Sonny Gray
to the bullpen to start warm-ups prior to Saturday's game.
Pitching coach Rick Rodriguez walks alongside.

“You doing what you’re doing, and you don’t change anything because of the level. It’s all baseball,” he said of this season’s movement between Triple-A, Double-A and back to Triple-A ball.

“When I first came (to Sacramento) I expected to play here,” he said. “They signed Vogt which kind of knocked me down one. I understood that, so I told myself I’m going to go to Midland and play my butt off and hopefully get back here by the end of the season.”

He played 61 games for the Rock Hounds, batted .214, but since he returned to Triple-A he’s seen his average balloon to well over .300.

“I feel good,” Freitas said. “I’m seeing the ball good.”

In his two series back in a Sacramento uniform he hit .389 with a homer and four doubles. He’s getting most of the starts behind the plate because Luke Montz has been on the disabled list. Ryan Ortiz, who started the year with the Stockton Ports, is also on the River Cats’ roster.

Much of the reason that Freitas has seen so much playing time could be two-fold. He played for Sacramento manager Steve Scarsone last year in Midland where the River Cats’ skipper was assigned in 2011 and 2012.

“(Scarsone) is awesome,” Freitas said. “He was awesome last year and he’s awesome this year. I love playing for him.”

River Cats' catcher David Freitas returning to the dugout
after Saturday's 5-3 win over Round Rock
Plus, Freitas has spent much of the past two weeks, plus earlier this year during spring training, getting to know all the River Cats’ pitchers.

“I knew I had to get to know them quick,” he said. “I try to get out early and catch as many of them as I can. When you go from one team to another there’s a whole new staff and as a catcher you have to handle all of them.”

Freitas is calling all the pitches when he’s catching, only getting defensive signs from Scarsone.

“Mostly I ask questions, ’What do you feel your strength is? What do you like to do in certain situations?’, he explained. “I do that instead of just going out there catching them. I want to know how they feel.”

Saturday night he directed the A’s top draft pick in 2011, Sonny Gray, through six and 1/3rd solid innings against a Round Rock Express team that included Manny Ramirez, the former All-Star, now working his way back to the majors through the Texas Rangers’ system.

“It was pretty cool to have Manny right there in the box me,” Freitas admitted.

He said the two briefly exchanged pleasantries with each other prior to Ramirez’ first at-bat.

“I told him, ‘Hi, good luck’ and he told me ‘good luck.’” Freitas said. “After that it was all business and baseball.”

There’s a little less than a month remaining in the season for the River Cats and they are currently fighting it out with Las Vegas for first place in the Pacific Coast League’s Pacific Southern Division. Sacramento has won the last six division championships.

“It’s always the goal to win,” he said.

But, there could another month of baseball for Freitas if he gets a call from Oakland to join the parent club in September.

“That’s obviously the ultimate goal,” he said. “To go up there and continue doing what I’ve been doing and hope things go well.”