Pleasant Grove 35, Sheldon 14
Elk Grove 35, Franklin 0
Monterey Trail 28, Jesuit 3
Grant 33, Davis 28
Cosumnes Oaks 35, Whitney 32
Bradshaw 49, Highlands 28
Kennedy 67, Florin 0
Valley 38, Johnson 6
Laguna Creek 40, McClatchy 0
Darren Chism was the last Pleasant Grove Eagle to leave the field Friday night. He was sitting on the turf, legs spread out, ready to ice a knee that he dinged the week previous. It still bothers him some, he tells a trainer. A bruised hand was heavy taped and the trainer was cutting away the tape from his hands while he was all grins talking to his first football coach from when he was just seven, playing Mighty Mites for the Elk Grove Junior Thundering Herd.
He was learning the game then, played a lot at defensive tackle, but showed some great skill and a nose for the football.
See photos from this game on the Sports Corner's Facebook page
Fast forward 11 years and he's now the starting running back for the Eagles. His inspired play this night boosted Pleasant Grove not only to a 35-14 win over rival Sheldon, but also cemented a spot in the playoffs for the Eagles, now 4-2 in Delta League play because of the big win.
Several times running the ball Chism refused to go down, keeping his legs churning and breaking tackles. It frequently took three or four Sheldon Huskies to haul him down.
"A straight line is the best route to go," he chuckled.
|PG receiver Vita Latapu (#27) gets ready to catch ball
The senior scored Pleasant Grove's first two TD's on runs of 18 and 11 yards. He was about the only guy running the ball for the Eagles in this game.
|Latapu has the ball
"We ran him a lot because we liked the match-up and the looks we were getting on offense," head coach Jason Rossow said. "We are 100 percent in love with our O-line and we'll ride them right to the end of the season. Chism ran hard but it starts with those guys up front."
Now 5-4 overall, the Eagles can double its win total from a year ago if they can beat Franklin in the regular season finale Friday.
"That's going to be a tough game, but if we power through it, we'll win," Chism said.
His coach didn't want to discuss the prospects of the post-season very much afterwards.
"Our focus is next week," he said. "We don't want to take anything for granted. This program is about seizing the opportunity and we're going to come out next week and secure that playoff spot regardless. That's out mentality."
|Sheldon's Alex Cook nails Latapu
The real star, though, for Pleasant Grove was wide receiver and safety Dawson Weber. He caught two touchdown passes (for 35 and 38 yards) and picked off Sheldon quarterback Nathan Berry twice. The second pick he returned for a 53-yard touchdown.
"Dawson has been playing great football for us this year," Rossow said. "He had an awesome game for us last week (in a 34-29 win over Davis) and he did it once again tonight when we needed it. But, as I said all year long, I don't like to focus on any one guy. It's a team effort. We preach family in this program. Without the other guys on the field it just doesn't happen."
|Latapu drops the ball. The hit is so severe, he is knocked out of game
Meanwhile, Sheldon, who dropped to 0-6 in league play, is almost doomed to the basement of the Delta standings because they host the undefeated Herd Friday. The Huskies turned the ball over three times killing good opportunities to stay in the game.
The first came on a fumble on the Huskies' opening drive of the game at the Pleasant Grove 23.
"Self-inflicted wounds," Sheldon head coach Herbie Berry said.
The Huskies also had a long pass to a wide open receiver dropped in the second quarter and had a field goal attempt blocked right before halftime.
|PG coach Jason Rossow shows QB Jake Ford a play.
"Self-inflicted wounds," he repeated. "We just have to execute. We cannot continue to make mistakes and expect to win football games."
A week ago, Sheldon had two golden opportunities late in the game to upset Grant, but ended up losing 21-20 to the Pacers. Once again, a field goal attempt was blocked.
"No one we've played has been so remarkably better than us that they just beat us," Berry said. "A lot of what has happened to us has been our own fault."
The loss dropped the Huskies to 2-7 overall. Sheldon has won just five games over the past three years.
"We just keep getting in our own way," Berry said. "That's something I've got to figure out over the course of the off-season. What steps do we have to take in order to get out of our own way?"
He claims that the winless record in the Delta League in 2015 doesn't define the kind of football program he has, now in his fourth year at the Sheldon helm.
"I don't think it defines the kind of talent we have as a football team," Berry said. "But, I think our kids have not gotten used to winning so they struggle with knowing how. Once we can get over that hump, win a big game, maybe that makes us turn a corner and we turn this thing around."