Friday, January 31, 2014

Podcast for Jan. 31, 2014

On this week's podcast I talk about this past week's sanctions against the boys' basketball programs at Cosumnes Oaks and Sheldon High School. Plus, I interview Franklin wrestlers Josh Villaflor and Joey Banks.

Mid-Season Basketball Races, Nothing Unexpected

Just like most of us thought, the Delta River League and the Delta Valley Conference boys' basketball races are, at the mid-point of the season, pretty much as predicted a month ago.

In the DRL, it's a race between Jesuit and Folsom for the championship. Tonight in Folsom, we'll see who might be a little better than the other. Those two clubs face off for the first time.

In the DVC, it's a bit more of a race for the top three slots. Right now it's the three we predicted - Franklin, Grant and Monterey Trail on top. A little surprising is Laguna Creek at 1-3 behind Davis at 2-2. The Cardinals need a quality outing like they had last week against Elk Grove tonight at Franklin to get back in it. If they lose tonight, they may be out of the playoff picture.

What a hard luck season Elk Grove is having in Mat Bradley's first year. They have lost seven games by five points or less.

Pleasant Grove is squirming right now behind Oak Ridge in fourth place, but remember, the DRL gets four teams in the post-season this year thanks to the new playoff set-up. The Eagles should end up in third place by the end of the year.

One post-note to the Cosumnes Oaks basketball situation. By forfeiting 16 wins this season and now 4-17 they have to thank the Sac-Joaquin Section for changing the playoff set-up. If it was a year ago and under the old power ratings system, it would be very likely the Wolfpack would be out of the playoffs, even with about five league games remaining.

However, under the new system (and if they win out the remaining contests) Cosumnes Oaks will make the post-season. What do you think about a possible Division II champion with a sub-.500 record? It could happen.

Delta Valley Conference Standings (as of Jan. 31)

Delta River League Standings (as of Jan. 31)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

EG Defeats Franklin, 43-19, In Wrestling Dual

Elk Grove's wrestling squad has virtually sewn up the Delta Valley Conference championship for the 12th season in a row by defeating Franklin, 43-19, in a dual match tonight at the Wildcats' gym.

The Herd opened the dual with wins at the first four weight groups. Josh Villaflor got Franklin on the scoreboard with an impressive 9-0 major decision over Kalani Tonge at 134 pounds. Antonio Jimenez followed with a 7-3 win over the Herd's Carson Sperber at 140 pounds, but Elk Grove's Kaleb Vetterli pulled off a 4-0 decision of Ali Khan.

"That was the turning point of the dual," Fred Marks, Wildcats' wrestling coach, said.

From that point on Elk Grove was in control including pins by Zack Krock at 162, Sai Ta'amu at 222 and Marcus Worthy at 287.

The dual was halted for more than 30 minutes when Joey Banks of Franklin, ranked in the top five statewide at 197 pounds, pinned Joe Guimont, dislocating Guimont's wrist in the process. Paramedics were called and after treating him, wheeled him away on a stretcher.

The Herd has a dual match next Wednesday at Davis to wrap up the conference dual season. They will be competing in the Sac-Joaquin Section's team dual championships on Feb. 8. The DVC wrestling championships are Feb. 15, the first step in the march to Bakersfield, site of the State Wrestling Championships.

Individual Match Results:

108 - Jacob Seto (EG) technical fall over Steve McCullough (F), 17-0        
Elk Grove 5, Franklin 0
115 - Roger Monroe (EG) dec. over Adrian Rodriguez (F), 6-0
Elk Grove 8, Franklin 0
122 - Jesse Arroyo (EG) pinned Sebastian Flores (F), 1:00
Elk Grove 14, Franklin 0
128 - Tristan Scott (EG) technical fall over G'Angelo Rodriguez (F), 19-3
Elk Grove 19, Franklin 0
134 - Josh Villaflor (F) maj. dec. over Kalani Tonge (EG), 9-0
Elk Grove 19, Franklin 4
140 - Antonio Jimenez (F) dec. Carson Sperber (EG), 7-3
Elk Grove 19, Franklin 7
147 - Kalebb Vetterli (EG) dec. Ali Khan (F), 4-0
Elk Grove 22, Franklin 7
154 - Jason Garcia (EG) dec. Nick DiManno (F), 8-2
Elk Grove 25, Franklin 7
162 - Zack Krock (EG) pinned Karreim Davis (F), 5:29
Elk Grove 31, Franklin 7
172 - Mitchell King (F) dec. Brandon Viale (EG), 3-1
Elk Grove 31, Franklin 10
184 - Robby Nickerson (F) dec. Ryan Rosales (EG), 5-3 OT
Elk Grove 31, Franklin 13
197- Joey Banks (F) pinned Joe Guimont (EG), 1:18
Elk Grove 31, Franklin 19
222 - Sai Ta'amu (EG) pinned Nick Gustin (F), :41
Elk Grove 37, Franklin 19
287 - Marcus Worthy (EG) pinned Noah Hansen (F), 1:06

Final Score - Elk Grove 43, Franklin 19

Monday, January 27, 2014

Saco Hammers Sheldon; Points To AAU Coaches, Lying On Paperwork As Reasons

A 31-page report was put on the desk of Sac-Joaquin Section commissioner Pete Saco roughly two weeks ago by the Elk Grove Unified School District. It contained the summary of its investigation into possible CIF rules violations by the Sheldon High School’s boys’ basketball team.

That report detailed stories such as paying for dinners for non-Sheldon enrolled boys, providing free tickets to the playoffs for potential players, holding “open gym” practices at the school with players not enrolled at Sheldon and allowing non-Sheldon students play in summer tournaments for a team representing itself as Sheldon High.

It’s the kind of report that one only hears about and think occurs only at the collegiate level. Like the NCAA, the California Interscholastic Federation also thinks this kind of activity is illegal.

“This is an unfortunate situation.,” Elizabeth Graswich, EGUSD’s Director of Communications said. “Our expectation is that everyone involved in our athletic programs -- staff, coaches, parents and students -- follow the rules.”

On the heels of releasing the report, EGUSD suspended Joey Rollings, the Sheldon coach who led the Huskies to the last four Division I Section championships. But, it was up to Saco to inflict more consequences on to the entire program.

Saco told the Citizen that the report, prepared primarily by EGUSD interim athletic director Todd Rieswig, was more thorough than the infamous recruiting scandal at Franklin High School in Stockton. That school’s coaches and administration was accused in 2007 of attracting players from American Samoa to come play in the States.

Cosumnes Oaks Forfeits 16 Games

When it rains, it pours on basketball programs in Elk Grove Unified.

Moments after Sac-Joaquin Section commissioner Pete Saco placed numerous sanctions on Sheldon's boys basketball team including banishment from the playoffs, along with a two-year probation, comes word that Cosumnes Oaks will forfeit 16 basketball games this season.

The Wolfpack were 19-1 until they discovered that one of that school's transfers was ineligible. He played in 16 of the Cosumnes Oaks games and thus the forfeit, according to EGUSD interim athletic director Todd Reiswig.

However, the Wolfpack has six more league games and if they do win out, finishing at least in third place or higher, they will compete in the post-season, according to Reiswig.

The player transferred from out of the area to play this season and it was determined this was an athletically-motivated transfer to move to Elk Grove to play basketball for Cosumnes Oaks.

Reiswig confirmed the school discovered the situation surrounding the player and self-reported the incident.

Section Sanctions Sheldon Basketball

The Sac-Joaquin Section has ruled seven Sheldon boys' basketball players ineligible effective immediately and has ruled the Huskies' team will be ineligible for the post-season. More reaction to this breaking story coming ....
Here is the text of the news release from the Sac-Joaquin Section:
 The Sheldon High boys basketball program has been found to have committed multiple CIF bylaw violations over the last school year.
It is the Section’s determination following receipt of an investigative report from the Elk Grove Unified School District that there were several instances of undue influence in trying to persuade current high school players to transfer to Sheldon as well as incoming middle school basketball players to enroll at Sheldon High.
These violations include, but are not limited to: Providing a free ticket to postseason events, parents paying for meals for potential future players, holding “open gym” practices at Sheldon with players who were not currently enrolled at Sheldon (while this is not a Section violation, it becomes a violation when those players subsequently transferred to Sheldon) and non-Sheldon students playing in summer tournaments for a team representing itself as Sheldon High.
There were also instances of fraudulent information provided by incoming transfers that, by CIF rule, would cause those students to be determined ineligible.
The Section commends the Elk Grove Unified School District for acting as soon as it heard about these violations. But there are still consequences when a school or district self-reports bylaw infractions.
After reviewing the investigation, the Section’s decision is as follows:
• Five current Sheldon players have been declared ineligible, effective immediately. One of those players, who has yet to be cleared for this season, will be eligible at the start of next season. The remaining four will be ineligible for one calendar year, until January 27, 2015. In addition, a middle school student, currently in the eighth grade, will not be eligible to compete at Sheldon for two years, until the 2016-17 school year. He is eligible to compete at any other high school when he is a freshman for the 2014-15 school year. This does not include two current senior transfers who were previously deemed ineligible and are now going through the state appeal process.
• The Sheldon boys basketball program is ineligible for the Sac-Joaquin Section postseason for the 2013-14 school year.
• The Sheldon boys basketball schedule will be reduced from 27 to 24 games for the 2014-2015 and the 2015-2016 school years.
• The Sheldon High School Men’s Basketball program will be allowed to compete in no more than one tournament during the 2014-2015 and the 2015-2016 school years. The tournament may be up to a total of 4 games and does not include the CIF post-season tournament.
• All AAU practices held on the Sheldon High School campus must be logged on an attendance sheet with the names of the attendees on the sheet. The attendance sheets must be signed off by a Sheldon administrator on a daily basis and forwarded to the EGUSD Athletic Director on the 15th and the 30th of each month that such activities are taking place.
• The Sheldon boys basketball program will be on probation for the remainder of the current school year, the 2014-2015 school year, and the 2015-2016 school year. Any violations of CIF Bylaws that occur during this timeline may cause further severe sanctions to the Sheldon High School Men’s Basketball program.

• Sheldon’s administration and coaches will undergo continuing education in conjunction with the Section staff concerning CIF bylaws.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Three Locals Place At Tim Brown Memorial

Elk Grove's Tristan Scott, Kelani Tonge and Marcus Worthy were the only Elk Grove-area grapplers to place in the top eight at the two-day Tim Brown Memorial Wrestling Tournament at McClellan Park.

Scott was fourth at 120 pounds in perhaps one of his best performances this season. He recorded three consecutive pins to open action on Friday.

Tonge took an eighth place at 126 pounds. Tonge opened the tourney with a loss to Logan Runner, one of the best grapplers in the Sierra Foothill League at Roseville, but rebounded well, according to his coach, Pat Coffing.

"For a kid that has zero post-season experience, (Tonge) has beat probably ten state qualifiers," he said. "He has probably made the biggest strides (this season)."

Tonge knocked Ethan Brewer of Sheldon out of the tournament in the match just prior to the medal round, by a 3-2 decision.

Worthy fought through an ankle injury to grab eighth place at 285 pounds.

"Marcus had a very good tournament," Coffing said. "He finally beat (Malik Hopkins of Chico) who has beat him three times this year."

The Brown Tournament annually matches some of the top area wrestlers with more than 1000 participants in a two-day affair.

Impressive was the team performance by Folsom. Three Bulldog grapplers won the championship at their weight and one other placed second.

"Nick Fegener, a 182-pounder, right now is my pick to win the state title,"  Coffing predicted. "Lorenzo De la Riva really looked good, too."

The Bulldogs now look like a legitimate threat to unseat perennial team dual champion Vacaville when the Sac-Joaquin Section Duals happen Feb. 8. Elk Grove hopes to compete in the team championships that day, but first they must defeat Franklin on Wednesday. Franklin coach Fred Marks recently told the Citizen his team has had numerous injuries and might be a bit undermanned for the annual Herd-Wildcat showdown.

"Fred's sandbagging," Coffing laughed. "Don't we all have injuries right now? This is a physical, long season."

Coffing admits he is a little concerned with this year's Franklin squad that includes a pair of state qualifiers in Josh Villaflor and Joey Banks.

"I am concerned about their athleticism up top," he said. "Athleticism is something that is hard to counteract. No replacement for displacement, right?"

Coffing knows his two freshmen wrestlers, Jacob Seto at 106 pounds and Roger Monroe at 113 pounds, will have to have good outings Wednesday.

"They'll have to pick up the offense a little," Coffing said. "Both are good on the mat and do well coming from underneath, which isn't typical for the young guys. It's encouraging for me as a coach that they are doing some of the most difficult skills now."

Both grapplers were 3-2 at the Brown last weekend.

The Franklin - Elk Grove dual is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. on Wednesday at Franklin High School.

Here are the results of the championship matches at the Brown: (courtesy CalGrappler.Com)

Isaac Blackburn – Del Oro def. Christopher Marin – Clovis West, 2-0
Perez Perez – Windsor def. Zach Miller – Ponderosa, 19-5
Curtis Booth – Folsom def. Anthony Wesley – Jesuit
Michael Knoblauch – Clovis West def. Angel Velasquez – Modesto
Nathan Cervantez – De la Salle def. Joshua Lazaro – Folsom, 3-0
Brandon Claiborne – Oak Ridge def. Conner Noonan – Henley, 16-5
Lorenzo De La Riva – Folsom def. Chris Garcia – Clovis West, 6-4
Paul Klee – Cardinal Newman def. Tyler Zimmer – Clovis West
Kaleio Romero – Oakmont def. John Leal – Chico, 5-0
Will Sumner – Nevada Union def. James Portilla – Oak Ridge, 15-0
Nicholas Fiegener – Folsom def. Alex Gamboa – Madera, Fall
Sullivan Cauley – Reno def. Eric Medina – Jesuit, 2-0
Gabriel Gonzalez – Washington def. Victor Raygoza – Orland, Fall
Jacob Minshew – Casa Roble def. Hexton Coronado – Clovis, Fall

Friday, January 24, 2014

Another EGUSD Basketball Team Under Investigation

Details are sketchy (and no one is talking on the record, again) but officials with Elk Grove Unified School District are looking into charges of undue influence against another boys' basketball program.

A little more than a week after EGUSD dealt with Sheldon's program, charged with undue influence (or recruiting players to come to their school), comes word that Cosumnes Oaks is now under the microscope.

There are lots of reports and rumors on what has caused Todd Reiswig and his EGUSD staff to look into the Wolfpack, yet I've learned that the probe is dealing with the transfer of at least one player who has been a key part of Cosumnes Oaks' 18-1 start to this season. Plus, the involvement of an AAU team in enticing boys to switch schools, much like what was behind the Sheldon probe, is the key to the investigation.

Whereas the school district and the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section have no jurisdiction over the athletic programs not connected to the school, they will rule high school players ineligible and possibly place sanctions on the interscholastic programs if they don't monitor the activity of these programs and coaches.

CIF rules mandate that following an off-season coach to one particular school is not allowed.

Meanwhile, it is expected any day that Section commissioner Pete Saco will announce whether there will be sanctions against Sheldon's basketball program or its athletic department as a whole. An EGUSD investigation found at least four CIF recruiting rule infractions recently. The district suspended head coach Joey Rollings for four weeks and reprimanded school principal Paula Duncan.

Day One - Tim Brown Memorial Wrestling Tournament

Here are the local results in one day of the Tim Brown Wrestling Tournament at McClellan Park: (as of 3 p.m.)

106 pounds:
Israel Washington (Monterey Trail) pinned Jared Nicholson (Cen. Catholic)
Vingh Nguyen (Sheldon) dec. Willy Gadow (El Dorado), 4-2
Jacob Seto (Elk Grove) pinned Jordan Cervantes (Rodriguez)
Feng Xiong (Sheldon) lost to Brandon Potts (Windsor), 13-4

113 pounds:
Rodger Monroe (Elk Grove) bye
Thyson Xiong (Sheldon) pinned Tanner Browning (Golden Valley)

120 pounds:
Tristan Scott (Elk Grove) pinned Angelo Cole (Casa Roble)
Jesse Soza (Sheldon) pinned by Philip Fuentes (Grace Davis)

126 pounds:
Kelani Tonge (Elk Grove) lost to Logan Runner (Roseville), 4-1
Ethan Brewer (Sheldon) dec. Fernando Lanza (Benecia), 8-3

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

EG Wrestlers Grab Team Title At Escalon Tourney

Elk Grove High School wrestlers Jacob Seto and Marcus Worthy took gold medals by winning their weight classes at the Lloyd Engel Wrestling Tournament Jan. 10-11 at Escalon High School.

Seto, a freshman at 106 pounds, now is tied with teammate Roger Monroe with most match wins thus far this season with 22 victories. Worthy, a 285-pounder, won the heavyweight championship with a pin on Jan. 11.

Monroe, also a freshman, took second place at 113 pounds at the Engel. His teammate Chris Ennis was third. Tristan Scott placed second at 120 pounds, while Kalani Tonge was third at 126.

Kaleb Vetterli took fourth at 145 pounds and Jason Garcia also grabbed a fourth at 152 pounds. At 220 pounds Thomas Aguila was fourth.

Elk Grove has a dual match Wednesday at the Cartwright Gym against Laguna Creek. This Friday and Saturday the Herd will compete at the Tim Brown Invitational at McClellan Air Force Base.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Audio Podcast: DVC Basketball, Sheldon Infractions

On this week's audio podcast I discuss this week's news: the school district's discipline of Sheldon boys' basketball and possible further sanctions coming from the Sac-Joaquin Section, the retirement of Pete Saco, Section Commissioner, and the first night of basketball in the Delta Valley Conference including interviews with Ken Manfredi of Monterey Trail and Laguna Creek's Paul Casey.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Saco Announces Retirement

Editor's Note: Congrats Pete, you've done a great job.

by Will DeBoard

After 21 years, CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Commissioner Pete Saco is riding off into the sunset.
Saco announced at the January 15 Board of Managers meeting that this will be his last year as commissioner of the second-largest Section in the state. His last month will be August, where his final act as commissioner will be overseeing the induction of the Section’s third Hall of Fame class. 
SJS Commissioner
Pete Saco
“I have been truly blessed to work for one of the finest athletic organizations in the country,” Saco said. “Our Board of Managers has been very supportive of the initiatives that I felt were important for the students within the Sac-Joaquin Section and the entire state. I have been very fortunate to have a great staff that was willing to carry out the vision that was adopted and supported by our Board of Managers and Executive Committee for high school athletics within our section.”
Saco is the third commissioner in the Sac-Joaquin Section’s 72-year history. He came aboard from the Lodi Unified School District in 1993. He was preceded by Clarke Coover (1968-1993) and James Cave (1942-1968).
During his time here, the Section underwent explosive growth. It grew from 115 schools to 195 schools. It went from three divisions to the current seven-division format. More schools than ever are earning Section championship banners, and they are contesting those finals in some of the best venues in the Central Valley.

Duncan: "People Are Making A Connection That Isn't There"

The Sheldon High School basketball program is reeling from the news that the Elk Grove Unified School District has disciplined its boys basketball coach Joey Rollings by telling him he cannot coach for the next four weeks. This followed a long investigation by EGUSD into numerous CIF rules violations by the Huskies' program.

The school enrolled as many as seven new basketball transfers this year but principal Paula Duncan said Thursday that wasn't the reason the school district evoked its sanctions.

"The transfers are a separate issue," Duncan said. "people are making a connection that isn't there."

She explained the District was told by a parent at another high school that a Sheldon parent encouraged them to enroll their son at Sheldon.

"That's undue influence," Duncan explained.

"We also had a parent talk to a kid from another school who was in our gym. That's undue influence," she added.

There was also a couple other incidents that Duncan discussed that according to the District's investigation were examples of undue influence.

Now those findings are in the offices of Sac-Joaquin Section commissioner Pete Saco for possible further sanctions against the Sheldon program.

"We're going to have to move on," Duncan said. "We have to own it."

She says all the transfers followed the rules of open enrollment, however at least three players have not yet been cleared to play this season for the Huskies.

"We will need to clean up a few things around here like following up on registrations,"Duncan added.

She said the fact her school's basketball program has been so successful, winning the last four Section Division I championships, wasn't the reason for the school district investigation.

"No matter the record, if you are not following rules, you should be disciplined," Duncan said. "We're in the business of teaching the kids to follow rules."

Sheldon opened the Delta River League schedule Wednesday night by losing by 41 points to Folsom. On Friday, they'll take on pre-season favorite Jesuit.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Rollings Won't Coach; EGUSD Wraps Up Sheldon Basketball Investigation

Sheldon basketball coach Joey Rollings will not be coaching his team for the next four weeks as a result of an investigation by the Elk Grove Unified School District. The action came as a result of an allegation of "undue influence" brought to District officials several weeks ago.

School district spokesperson Elizabeth Graswich confirmed Tuesday morning that after a lengthy investigation officials found numerous infractions of CIF rules and has now passed along that report to the Sac-Joaquin Section office.

The Huskies' basketball program are the four-time defending Section Division I champions. They were the CIF State Division I Basketball runner-ups two seasons ago.

It was confirmed two weeks ago that the school district was looking into possible CIF recruiting rules violations. The school did have at least seven, possibly more, basketball players transfer into the program this academic year.

In an email to the Citizen Graswich wrote that school principal Paula Duncan met with the team and parents Monday night to inform them of the following:
  • The investigation found that multiple CIF bylaws may have been violated. It also found that some District protocols were not followed.
  • Disciplinary action is being taken.
  • EGUSD shared its findings with CIF on Friday and will fully cooperate with CIF.
  • That CIF has the right to implement its own sanctions.
  • EGUSD will provide training for Sheldon HS athletic staff to ensure that such matters will not reoccur and the district will offer additional training for all EGUSD athletic programs.
"This is an unfortunate situation," Graswich wrote. "The Elk Grove Unified School District recognizes and abides by CIF rules and regulations.  Our expectation is that students, staff, coaches, parents, and volunteers all follow the rules.  We will work closely with our athletic directors and coaches in the coming weeks to remind them of the rules to ensure everyone’s compliance."

Will DeBoard,  Director of Communications for the Sac-Joaquin Section, said Tuesday afternoon they have no comment on the EGUSD action but Section Commissioner Pete Saco was reviewing the paperwork he received from the school district.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Audio Podcast For Jan. 9

On This Week's podcast I talk about Jalen Saunders and his brilliant college career at Oklahoma and the prospects of a career in the NFL, talk with John DePonte, the head coach of the defending state basketball champions, Pleasant Grove Eagles and with coach Mat Bradley of Elk Grove. I'll also talk about the passing of former EGHS football and basketball player Jeremy Callaway.

Dual Season Opens For Grapplers

The conference/league dual season began Wednesday around the area for high school wrestlers with Elk Grove and Folsom, the two powers in the Delta Valley Conference and the Delta River League, respectively, each winning easily.

Folsom rolled over Pleasant Grove, 57-3, while Elk Grove's score over Grant wasn't phoned in, yet we know who won that one.

Franklin had a bit of a tussle before overcoming Monterey Trail, 42-25. The Mustangs' Israel Washington pinned his opponent. Franklin's Joey Banks won via a major decision. Antonio Jiminez won via a technical fall, 18-0.

Davis defeated Laguna Creek, 42-27.

In the Sierra Valley League, Cosumnes Oaks beat El Dorado, 57-19.

In one non-conference girls' basketball game, Pleasant Grove defeated Franklin, 55-34 while Bradshaw continued its winning ways with a 66-10 whitewashing of Golden Sierra.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Pleasant Grove's 3rd Quarter Overwhelms Elk Grove, 67-55

Pleasant Grove opened the game with a 13-0 run and then began the third quarter by outscoring Elk Grove, 18-2, to take a 67-55 non-conference win over its cross-city rival. Center Marquiss Chriss and guard Johann Tate were the fire starters in the third quarter for the Eagles. Also impressive was Sheldon transfer James Fox who became eligible this week to play for the Eagles after sitting out a mandatory 30 days.

Pleasant Grove improved to 7-7 on the year while Elk Grove dipped to 8-9 on the season.

Thursday the Eagles play Franklin who defeated Granite Bay tonight, 73-70, in double overtime. John Mososco's jumper from the corner with three seconds remaining was the winner for the Wildcats.

Here are some photos from tonight's game:

"The Flock" Pleasant Grove's student body cheering their team.

James Fox, making his Pleasant Grove debut on Tuesday

The "Cartwright Crazies" came out en masse to root on the Herd

Monday, January 06, 2014

Saunders Has Big Sugar Bowl; Callaway Dies

It was quite a night for the Oklahoma Sooners and for former Pleasant Grove wide receiver Jalen Saunders. Playing Jan. 2 at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, the Sooners upset Alabama, 45-31, with Saunders scoring a pair of touchdowns on pass receptions.

In his final collegiate game, the speedster caught five balls for 75 yards including TD receptions of eight and of 43 yards. 
Oklahoma's Jalen Saunders hugs Sooner coach
Bob Stoops following a touchdown Thursday during
the Sugar Bowl

He finished the year as the Sooners’ top receiver with 61 catches, the 13th best all-time at Oklahoma. He also returned two punts for touchdown this season.

Saunders will be playing later this month in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., and then probably attend the NFL Combine in preparation for the pro draft in April.

CBS rates him as the 23rd best wide receiver prospect coming out of college this year. The site has projected Saunders as a fifth-round draft choice.

Saunders was one of Pleasant Grove’s top players when the Eagles won the Sac-Joaquin Section championship in 2009.

Former EGHS Football/Basketball Star Dies

A key member of Elk Grove High School’s football and basketball teams of the late 90’s, Jeremy Callaway, died Jan. 3 at the age of 32. The cause of death isn’t known exactly but he was being treated for cancer of the colon.

In the Herd’s high-powered teams of 1997 and 1998, Callaway was a key slot receiver who scored 20 TD’s in 1998 and also played linebacker alongside Lance Briggs. He went on to play at Sacramento State.

On the basketball court he was one of Coach Todd Reiswig’s top defensive players.

Callaway lived in North Carolina and leaves behind a wife and a child.

Football Recruiting Now In High Gear

It’s just inside of a month before we know exactly, but there is a decent chance there will be a good number of Elk Grove-area high school football players signing NCAA National Letters-of-Intent with a college program.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Jesuit Stays Undefeated; Franklin, PG Lose At Fr. Kelly Tribute

Jesuit continued to show it is the early-season favorite for the Delta River League, and possibly the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship, Saturday by defeating Salesian, 65-57, at the Father Kelly Tribute.

In a six-game event at Jesuit High School pitting the best of the North Coast Section vs. local teams, Pleasant Grove and Franklin lost their games.

The Eagles were defeated by El Cerrito, 78-57. Marquese Chriss had 17 points for the Pleasant Grove (6-7).

The Wildcats lost to St. Mary's, 58-50.

Tuesday the Eagles will be at Elk Grove in a non-conference tuneup for both clubs. Conference/league action gets underway next week.

Saunders Has Big Game in Sugar Bowl

The Bee's Joe Davidson has a great story about the former Pleasant Grove star, Jalen Saunders, who played his final game in college on Thursday in Oklahoma's win over Alabama. It's a good read.

Next up is the Senior Bowl followed by the NFL combines for Saunders.

I remember Jalen was roped into service to play quarterback for much of his junior year when the starting quarterback blew a knee. He was also one of the top 100-meter sprinters when he was at PG, finishing high at the Section Masters' track and field championships.

Saunders, who started college at Fresno State before transferring to OU, will likely be drafted in April by some NFL club.