Friday, January 30, 2015

Formaker Takes Leave of Absence From Frankin/CIF Expands Football Playoffs

To further clarify my late Friday post on this story, Franklin head basketball coach Jesse Formaker has taken a leave of absence from his post to attend to his eight-year-old son diagnosed a couple days ago with bone cancer.

Elk Grove Citizen sports editor Jon Gudel spoke with Formaker late Friday and reports that Formaker will attend practices and games only when available the rest of this season. His assistant coaches will take over the reigns of coaching the squad. Formaker also told Gudel he has taken a leave from teaching at Franklin for the immediate future. His son will begin treatments immediately.

Gudel will have a more thorough report on this story in Tuesday's online edition of the Citizen and in Wednesday's newspaper.

The Wildcats are 12-8 this season, 4-3 and in third place in the Delta League.

CIF Expands Football Playoffs

The State football championships will expand rapidly effective next season from five CIF State Championship games to 13.

Under the new format all Section champions at all divisions of play throughout the entire state will get the opportunity to play in a regional game.

Prior to today's decision, the Section commissioners would meet annually to decide which teams in both Northern and Southern California were the most deserving for play in a regional game with the winners to play for a state title.

This past season, commissioners selected two clubs to play for the State's Open Division title, then selected 16 other clubs - eight each in Northern and in Southern California - to play a regional game in Divisions I through IV. The winners of those games faced off in early December in Carson for the State title in their respective divisions.

To read more about this decision, here's a story

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Yates Leads EG To Quad Dual Win

Tyler Yates has his site set on a career in agriculture.

“I want to major in ag education and land management,” he said recently. “I want to go test soil around farms and see what the best use of it would be – for cattle or for growing plants.”

A member of Elk Grove High School’s FFA program, he’s raising a pig this year, hoping for a big profit when he sells it at the County Fair in May.

But, before that the senior wants to make a mark for himself on the wrestling mat, just like Lefi Letuligasenoa and Jaharee Taylor, the Herd heavyweights who preceded him.

“I fee like I’ve gotten a lot better since the beginning of the year,” Yates said. “I’m wrestling smarter and just more active than the beginning of the year.” 
EG Heavyweight Tyler Yates riding an opponent to a win recently

Yates and his teammates used this past weekend to once again show they are a force to reckon with in the Sac Joaquin Section. At Saturday’s “Dirty Five-Thirty” Quad dual meet at Ponderosa High School, Elk Grove won the team championship by defeating DeLaSalle, 28-26, Oakdale, 33-28, and Ponderosa, 41-17.

Yates is one of Elk Grove’s few seniors who are grappling this winter, which means most of this impressive group will be around another year or two. But, before he graduates, Yates wants a chance to wrestle at the State Meet in March.
And, he thinks he will probably get there.

“I’m working on more movement on bottom, trying to circle out, get up and go, not stall out like I used to do, just try to get better,” he said.

Going into the weekend his individual mark was a very respectable 20-9. He knows his tougher matches are yet to come.

“I need to psyche myself up in my head, not really size up the guy, see who I have to wrestle, just wrestle smart,” Yates said.

As a heavyweight, Yates could weigh as much as 285 pounds, and that moves up to 287 when March rolls around. He’s near the top of that weight limit currently, but has dropped a few pounds the past two months.

“I’ve lost about ten pounds,” Yates said. “I weighed in (Jan.21) at 270 pounds. At Five Counties (Wrestling Tournament in Fountain Valley) there were two kids heavier than I was, Jose Alvarez who is (ranked) number one in state (from Selma H.S.), and a kid from Lakewood.”

In the most recent CalGrappler Rankings, Yates is ranked eighth best in the Sac-Joaquin Section amongst the heavyweight wrestlers. Woodcreek’s Dominic Balmer is ranked one with Jake Minshew of Casa Roble two. Yates knows these are the guys he’ll have to face at the Section Masters’ Championship in a little more than a month from now.

“Those guys are good, so I will have to be ready,” he said.

Teammate Sai Ta’amu is the Section’s top-ranked wrestler at 220 pounds. Kelani Tonge is ranked number two at 132 pounds. At 170 pounds, Zach Krock is ranked eighth. Terrell Turner is rated eighth-best at 138 pounds while Jacob Seto is ranked fourth at 113 pounds.

Other local wrestlers ranked in the top eight of their weight classification by CalGrappler are Armondo Glinton of Cosumnes Oaks, sixth at 195 pounds, Robby Nickerson of Franklin, seventh at 195 pounds, Josh Villaflor of Franklin, fourth at 132 pounds and Israel Washington of Monterey Trail, seventh at 113 pounds.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Cattolico to Coach At Franklin? Plus, Quick Hits ....

Don't be surprised if very soon Franklin High School announces that Joe Cattolico will be their next varsity football coach. It would make sense to replace one quality coach,  Mike Johnson, with another proven man who already has ties to the Elk Grove community.

The reason it likely hasn't already happened is that as with most high school coaches, an on-campus teaching job needs to be attached to the assignment. Cattolico is a social science teacher (and a good tough one, I hear) and that position at Franklin would need to be available.

Teaching at one school, a Delta League rival at that, and coaching at another just wouldn't work.

Cattolico was the successful coach at Pleasant Grove in its first nine years. That span included a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship and a couple runner-ups. He coached numerous players who have gone onto good college and even pro careers. They include the New Orleans Saints' Jalen Saunders, retired Toronto Argonaut defensive lineman Armond Amstead and his brother, Arik, who recently announced his plans to enter the NFL Draft this spring.

Johnson retired from coaching two weeks ago yet will remain on the faculty at Franklin.

Now, some Quick Hits:

 - In the long line of excellent Franklin basketball players, Chimdem Mez is right there. He graduated in 2010, but in college he took on his other beloved sport, soccer. The last four years he has been a key part of Sacramento State's soccer team.

He had ten goals over that span, seven this past fall and was named to the All-Big West team. On Tuesday he was selected in the fourth round of the MLS Draft by the San Jose Earthquakes. Mez was the 66th selection overall.

- The "interim" label has been removed from Derick Milgrim's coaching title at Cosumnes Oaks. Principal Patrick McDougall has decided Milgrim will now be the permanent football coach following a 8-3 season and a Capital Valley Conference title.
Cosumnes Oaks football coach Derick Milgrim

- Pleasant Grove is now atop the Delta League with a 6-0 record after Friday's 65-61 win over Sheldon. Johan Tate scored 21 points and Marquese Chriss added 17 as the Eagles outscored the Huskies, 18-9, in the opening quarter.

The Eagles have now won 10 games in a row. The Huskies are in second place in the Delta with a 5-1 mark. In third place are Franklin and Jesuit, both with 4-2 records.

-The 2015 field of teams for the Boras Baseball Classic has been announced. Three Delta League teams will compete in the 32-team field, divided into a Northern California and a Southern California pair of brackets. Host club, Elk Grove, along with Pleasant Grove and Davis will join Granite Bay and Oak Ridge from the Sierra Foothills League in the Northern bracket.

Other schools competing in the March 30-April 3 event are St. Francis (Mountain View) , Archbishop Mitty (San Jose), Junipero Serra (San Mateo), Bellarmine (San Jose), Maria Carrillo (Santa Rosa), Turlock, Clovis West, Pacific Grove, Yuba City, Liberty (Bakersfied) and Stockdale (Bakersfield).

All games will be played at McAuliffe Fields near the Sacramento State campus. Elk Grove won the Boras championship in 2014.

The Northern winner will take on the Southern bracket winner for the Boras State Championship May 2 at Cal State - Fullerton.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Burandt Named Head Football Coach At Florin

It was a sad football season for the Florin Panthers. They won their opener against Mira Loma then proceeded to lose the next nine games. Most were blow-outs.

Monterey Trail drubbed them, 69-0. Even in a weak Metro League, Florin barely competed. They even had to forfeit its game with Burbank because they didn’t have enough guys.

Mike Rosales resigned as coach. Athletic Director George Smith, himself a former football coach at Florin, was in a bit of conundrum.

But, one man stepped up and asked to take on the challenge making Florin competitive once again. The man is William Burandt, a long-time football assistant coach and school counselor.

What make this story unique is that Burandt will coach the Panthers from a wheelchair. Many years ago he contracted Gambre Syndrome, a disabling disease that robs the body of total control of arms and legs.

But, Burandt says he’s not going to let that stop him. Admittedly, it made him seriously consider the thought of taking on the year-round job of a high school football program.

“I knew I was going to ask kids to commit (to football) and I knew they wouldn’t commit if I couldn’t commit to it,” he said. “So I had to think about that before I approached George about the job.”

And Smith says he was all for giving the job to Burandt.

“Bill has overcome some major obstacles in his life, and he has always remained true to Florin High School,” Smith said. “Therefore, he will be inspirational to the coaching community and the Florin High community.”

Smith should know.

He and Burandt coached under Ed Johnson together, plus they were assistants for baseball coach Mike Harris.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Nahhas Named All-State; EG Wrestlers Shine At Fountain Valley

Add another trophy to a crowded shelf at the Nahhas house. Monterey Trail running back Trey Nahhas was named to Maxpreps' All-State Football squad's first team this weekend.

"This young man has been such a positive influence to our high school, athletic program and community," Mustangs' athletic director David Coronado wrote in a news release announcing the honor. "What a great accomplishment for such a great kid."
Trey Nahhas, All-Metro, All-Delta League and now, All-State running  back

Nahhas was the Delta League's offensive player of the year and won the same honor on the Sacramento Bee's All-Metro team.

He set a Sac-Joaquin Section playoff rushing record with 398 yards in a Division I quarterfinal win at Merced. In total, the Monterey Trail senior gained 2,599 yards and scored 34 touchdowns in 2014. He's likely going to attend Cal Poly- San Luis Obispo.

Taylor Wins A Car At Kings' Game

If you want a ride in a new car phone Jeremiah Taylor. The former Pleasant Grove football and basketball coach swished a mid-court shot at halftime of Saturday's Kings' game to win a new car.
Not sure what the make or model of the vehicle was, but folks at the game claim he was elated.

Who wouldn't be?

Herd Grapplers Finish Eighth At Five Counties

Facing some of the state's top programs in Buchanan, St. John Bosco and Servite, Elk Grove's wrestlers had a strong showing Friday and Saturday at the Five Counties Tournament at Fountain Valley High School.

Seven of the Herd's 14 grapplers were still alive going into the second day of the tournament with two placing - Jacob Seto, fifth at 113 pounds, and Tyler Yates, seventh at 285 pounds. Elk Grove scored 100.5 points, good for an eighth place finish.

Buchanan showed why it is likely going to win the State Championship in March by running away with the team championship by scoring 311 team points. Servite's 198 points placed them second. Northview was third and St. John Bosco fourth.

Elk Grove was the only school from the Sac-Joaquin Section in the tourney, made up primarily of South Section and Central Section teams.

PG/Sheldon Share First In Delta Basketball

After only two weeks of league play Sheldon and Pleasant Grove share first place, each with 4-0 marks in Delta League games.

"It's a nice feeling," the Eagles' first-year head coach Dwayne Smith said. "We have some things to improve, but it is a nice feeling."

Smith hopes the nice feeling will linger another week. They will host the Huskies this Friday.

"We have to be ready," he said. "But, we need to take them one at a time."

Smith says star center Marquese Chriss has really been playing well. The 6-8 signee with Washington had 17 points in just 19 minutes in the Eagles' 65-49 win Friday over Elk Grove.

"He definitely is a difference-maker," he said.

But, Smith says there have been some struggles getting his talented squad to play consistently good.

"Every one has been pretty receptive (to Smith's coaching) and everything has been going fine so far," he claims. "But, there is something I just can't put my finger on."

Armstead Declares For NFL Draft

University of Oregon defensive end Arik Amstead announced late last week he was going to make himself available for the 2015 NFL Draft.

The former Pleasant Grove Eagle said he is ready for the pros now.

"I feel I am ready," he told News-10 last Tuesday. "I feel like I have a unique skill set. I feel with my size I will be successful at the next level."

The 6-8, 290-pounder led Oregon with 5 1/2 tackles for a loss this season. During the National Championship game a week ago he had his best game of the year recording nine tackles and recovered a fumble.

"I work hard and I feel I've grown a lot through the years in Oregon, both on and off the field," Amstead said.

His brother Armond played three years at Southern Cal before an injury ended his collegiate career. The elder Amstead had a good season in 2012 in Canada playing for Toronto. His team won the Grey Cup that year. He then signed with the NFL's New England Patriots for the 2013 year but underwent surgery for an undisclosed virus and missed the entire year.

He is now retired from football.

Saunders Finishes NFL Season With Saints

Another former Pleasant Grove Eagle, Jalen Saunders, got plenty of frequent flyer miles this past NFL season.

The Oklahoma graduate was selected in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the New York Jets. He made the active roster and even played in four games, primarily as the punt returner.

But the Jets released Saunders Sept. 29. He ended up on the Arizona Cardinals' practice roster but for about four weeks. Saunders was signed by Seattle for their  practice squad Nov. 4.

When the New Orleans Saints offered Saunders an active roster spot, he said yes and inked with the Saints on Nov. 19. He had no statistics with New Orleans, but will be attending their training camp this summer.

Ross Ends 2014 As Key Part of Lions' Receiving Corp

Jeremy Ross appears to have found a home in Detroit. His fourth NFL stop in just a little more than two seasons, Ross had a quality year playing for the Lions. He started 13 games at wide receiver catching 24 passes for 319 yards and a touchdown.

The former Cal wide receiver played in all 16 regular season games and the Lions' playoff game in Dallas.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

EG Fourth Entering Finals Of Five Counties

Going into Saturday's semi-final and championship matches, Elk Grove's wrestling squad is in fourth place in team points at the Five Counties' Tournament at Fountain Valley High School. State power Buchanan has first place pretty much wrapped up with Servite second and Northview third.

Follow the conclusion of this prestigious tournament HERE.

Chriss Looms Big In Win Over EG

Marquese Chriss had just fouled out. He grinned a bit knowing his night was over, but there was only one-and-a-half seconds left on the clock. His Pleasant Grove team were moments away from defeating Elk Grove, 64-49, in front of a packed home crowd.

The 6-8 center mildly acknowledged verbal barbs being hurled his way from the Elk Grove student section a few feet away with a smirk. He said something briefly to Herd head coach Mat Bradley who he almost bumped into in his glance towards the Elk Grove cheering section.

He slapped a few hands of teammates, got a handshake from his head coach, Dwayne Smith, and sat down on the bench.

“Some of (the fouls) I could disagree with but you can’t go back and change it, so you have to live with it,” he said.

Chriss presence Friday night was powerful , but, relatively brief that night – he played just under 20 minutes because of foul trouble. He led the Eagles with 17 points. However, when he was in the game the University of Washington signee was flying high above the crowd on the floor.

All night long he changed shots by Elk Grove shooters, outrebounded the smaller Herd frontline and put on quite a show of athleticism.

Once he blocked a Tanner Murphy shot about a foot above the rim. Despite the cries of Bradley for a goal tending call, which fell on deaf ears, the crowd emitted a loud “wow.”

In his brief stint in the third quarter he took an alley-oop pass from James Fox and slammed it through with both hands, much to the glee of the “Flock”, nickname for the Pleasant Grove student section.

But, moments later Chriss was back on the bench after drawing foul number four. He didn’t seem to worry. His team was leading 40-26 at the time with 4:42 left in the period and knew the guys around him would hold the lead.

“We have a team around me. They can continue to succeed even if I am not on the floor,” he said.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Lewis Inks NLI To UVA

Bradshaw Christian’s  2011 graduate, Daniel Lewis signs a full ride scholarship offer to University of Virginia as his ARC head coach Jon Osterhout looks on.  Daniel was a walk on out of BCS to Arizona State University and then transferred to ARC in January 2013.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Manning's Basketball Experiences Helps Sheldon Players Excel

It was 1993 and the first selection in the NBA Draft was Michigan’s Chris Webber, who later became the leader of a Sacramento Kings’ squad that was one of the best in franchise history.

The 40th selection in that same draft was Richard Manning, a center from the University of Washington.

Manning was a 1988 graduate of Center High School and one of the top college prospects coming out of California. 

“That was when the Big East (Conference) was the thing,” Manning recently recalled. “Very few of us in California stayed in the West. Everyone migrated to Syracuse, Georgetown, Seton Hall, those places.”

Now more than 20 years later, the gentle seven-foot tall giant is coaching the sport he loves. He’s the guy who looms under the basket during warm-ups of the Sheldon High School varsity games, encouraging the latest stable of Huskies.

They all listen, too. He’s been there. He knows what it’s like at the next level and beyond.

In 1988 Manning inked a National Letter of Intent to play for Jim Boeheim at Syracuse and join the very best players in the Big East.

“I came in as a true freshman because Rony Seikely had just graduated and I played ten-to-12 minutes a game,” Manning recalled. “My  sophomore year that increased even more. Kentucky got in big trouble with the NCAA and their players all transferred. LeRon Ellis came to Syracuse and Coach Boeheim asked me to sit until my senior year and then we’d see.”

Manning circa 1997
Manning didn’t like the idea of riding the bench so he transferred. He ended up in the then-Pac 10 at Washington playing for Len Nance. Mark Fox, the current head coach at Georgia, was a graduate assistant at that time. Trent Johnson, another assistant coach at Washington, is now at T.C.U.

Attracting the attention of many NBA scouts, Manning was taken in the second round of the ’93 draft by the Atlanta Hawks.

“I was cut the last day of training camp,” Manning said. “That team had Mookie Blaylock at point guard, Dominique Wilkins was there, Andrew Lang was the center. It was a heck of a team.”

Manning then played in the old Continental Basketball Association for a year and a half until he got a call from the Grizzlies, the NBA franchise which was in Vancouver, British Columbia, at that time.