Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Spencer Levin is alive and well on a local golf course

 Last Monday my golfing buddies and I were playing Cordova Golf Course, a simple par-66 layout on the Jackson Highway in Rancho Cordova. As a bunch of older guys typically do, we don’t play that quick and three of us like to walk 18 holes. So these two young men were quickly moving up behind us. We decided to tee off on hole No. 4 and then let them play through. I told my partners I’ll walk back to the No. 3 green and talk to these two young men. As I neared the green one of them chipped his ball out of the sand to about two inches from the cup. When I looked to him and said, ”Hey, great shot” I recognized him. 

It was Spencer Levin. 

Elk Grove's Spencer Levin, getting in some
practice Nov. 20 at Cordova Golf Club

As often as I wrote about Levin and his feats and defeats on the PGA Tour I felt like I really knew him. We only talked about three times on the phone, but if you’ve been a regular reader of this column you know I wrote about him often. He is about the only guy from Elk Grove to make it to the Tour. 

Levin knew who I was and with a big grin said I wrote something incorrect about him. It was about a year ago when Levin made the cut at the Shriners’ Children’s Open, the first cut he made on the Tour in five years. He said I wrote in my column his best year he earned $230,000 and quickly told me his best year was 2011 and he earned $2,388,000. I didn’t know what to say except that I am sure I didn’t make up that $230,000 figure but would check our Citizen archives and make a written apology, if needed.

 Spence, I am truly sorry. 

On Oct. 10, 2022 I did indeed write in this column that his best year was 2008 when he earned $236, 185. I was wrong (I’ve sure I got that info off PGATour.com). Levin’s best year was indeed 2011 when he earned, more correctly, $2,388,038. In fact in his best years, between 2010 and 2015, Levin was a regular entrant on the Tour. According to PGATour.com and Spotrac.com, his career winnings total $8,236,107. His resume on the Tour includes one runner-up, two third-place finishes and nine top-five and 17 top 10 finishes. 

Watching him briefly as he and his playing partner, who Levin introduced as a fellow touring pro (sorry, I didn’t write down his name), were teeing off and passing us by on No. 4 at Cordova, it was evident he can still play excellent golf. 

Before he went forward to the green at No. 4, I had to ask the obvious, “I find it unusual that the first time we meet in person on a golf course, it’s at Cordova. Why are you here being a touring pro?” (No offense, management of Cordova Golf Club) The response was simple: his dad, Don, teaches lessons at Cordova and he got Spence and friend out on the course for a few quick holes. 

At age 39, Levin is still touring, now on the Korn Ferry Tour where he’s competed in 118 events with a win, two runner-ups, a third-place finish and 12 finishes in the top 10. His lone victory was this summer at the Veritex Bank Championship in Arlington, Tex. He fired a final round 63, eight-under-par, to finish with a minus-20 and a one-stroke victory over Brett Drewitt. Levin had a good year in 2023 finishing 50th in the Korn Ferry points total. If he ends up in the top 30 next year, he’ll earn back his PGA Tour card.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Validity of CIF bylaw governing recruiting takes a hit by recent rulings


Have recent decisions by State CIF Appeals judges rendered ineffective a bylaw that defines the prohibition of the recruiting of student athletes, pre-enrollment contact and undue influence by offending schools?

Bylaw 510 is the part of the California State Federation’s (CIF) constitution that defines recruiting of athletes at one school by another school, which is not allowed. A recent decision by CIF involved a football player transferring from Sheldon to Grant. He was ruled ineligible by the Sac-Joaquin Section of the CIF in August for the entire 2023 season citing Bylaw 510 and other infractions.

But that player, Devin Green, played in Grant High School’s 82-0 win over Kennedy Oct. 13. He scored four touchdowns on just five carries that night.

Green, a senior, had played the past three football seasons at Sheldon for coach Chris Nixon. That night was his debut in Pacer blue and gold.

Earlier this year he made the decision to attend the Natomas school for his senior season while he and his family continued to live in the attendance area of Sheldon. If the family had moved into Grant’s attendance area, Green would have likely been eligible on day one of the 2023 season, according to CIF bylaws governing move of residence.

But, in August his transfer request to Grant was denied by the Section because of evidence they had that indicated violation of its bylaws which dictate what constitutes pre-enrollment contact and undue influence by a school on a student/athlete attending another school.

One piece of evidence was a social media video from May 6, 2023 taken in a locker room at Grant showed two male students tried to rip a Sheldon Huskies t-shirt in two before Green himself came to take the shirt away.

One of the Grant students then said in the video, “We’ve got Devin Green.” At that time Green was still a student at Sheldon.

But, that wasn’t the first indication Green was planning on taking his talents to Grant.

An April, 2023, post on “X” (Twitter) indicated Green was a football player at Grant, but at that time he was still a student at Sheldon. That is something which is prohibited by Bylaw 510.

Yet, according to the Section website, Green’s family appealed that August decision by the Sac-Joaquin Section and a CIF State Appeals judge overturned the transfer denial on Oct. 13. He played that night for the Pacers, seven games into the 2023 season.

That even came after a three-person Sac-Joaquin Section appeal panel earlier upheld Section commissioner Mike Garrison’s decision to rule Green ineligible for the season.

Last school year El Camino basketball player Kiku Parker requested to transfer, also to Grant. It was denied by Section commissioner Garrison citing evidence of violation of bylaw 510 and other alleged infractions.

That, too, was overturned by a State CIF Appeals judge. Those appeals are held in private meetings and, thus, unavailable to the press.

A request by the Citizen to the State CIF office for a copy of the appeal judge’s decision on Green along with any other paperwork submitted by the Greens and/or Grant High School for their basis for an appeal has not been answered as of press time.

Is Bylaw 510 now valid?

So now, in a legal sense, the validity of CIF bylaw 510 might be under question. Glen Guenard, an Elk Grove attorney, said that in organizations ruled by a set of bylaws precedents generally are the rule until they are overturned and then that becomes the precedents. Thus, enforcement of 510 in the future will probably be harder to implement.

Without seeing the CIF Appeal judge’s ruling it’s hard to say exactly why these two cases were overturned, Guenard added.

“Right now what it sounds like by this particular judge is that, yeah, you can appeal it and if there are certain factors we can overturn it and I suspect they found the rule wasn’t really violated because there wasn’t enough sufficient evidence,” he said. “Initially, there may have been, but the person (making the appeal) presented some evidence they weren’t recruited.”

The ire of opposing coaches

This case has raised the ire of many a football coach around Elk Grove. Bothered by this decision is Nixon, the Sheldon football coach.

“You have a Section rule on a bylaw and they you have the State overturn that ruling and this isn’t the first time, we’ve seen it twice,” Nixon said. “What does that say? That the State has not trained its Section commissioners well enough as to how to rule on this bylaw? Or is this bylaw just ineffective? It seems to me (Bylaw 510) is very clear. But, it must not if we have a Section ruling one way and a State overruling them.”

Pleasant Grove’s Josh Crabtree had a unique viewpoint: “Without knowing the specifics on any of these cases, it’s hard to not to watch everything happening in our section and wonder if the horse is finally out of the barn. If high school athletics, as we knew it, is finally dead,” he texted the Citizen.

Crabtree added as an example another unique ruling of last week by the Section. A player his team opposed earlier this season in the Christian Brothers game, Ezekiel Castex, is now playing for Rocklin.

“Again, I don’t know any of the circumstances around any of these moves, but it’s hard not to feel like the set of rules many of us thought we were operating under are on a scrap heap somewhere…and we never got the memo,” Crabtree said.

“That’s something in my 27 years in California coaching high school football I’ve never seen that before,” Granite Bay head coach Joe Cattolico said of the Castex transfer. His Grizzlies play Rocklin this Friday.

According to the Section website, Castex’ family made a valid change of residence to the Rocklin area and was approved to play for the Thunder Oct. 10.

Cattolico, who was Pleasant Grove’s first football coach and spent a few seasons at Sheldon, says these recent decisions which seem to overturn rules on recruiting other school’s players have made it difficult for the Section office to manage now.

“From a Section office perspective, this sounds like the worst possible thing they can imagine, as far as a free-for-all for kids to do whatever they want - and it is a terrible idea,” Cattolico said. “Basically there’s a part of me that wonders realistically we are sort of now there, whether we want to be or not…it’s now beginning to look like college football in a way, but realistically we really don’t want it to look like college football.”

He was referring to the NCAA Transfer Portal which now allows college players to make themselves available to other colleges annually.

“Deion Sanders basically rebuilt (University of) Colorado through the portal,” Cattolico cited.

Cattolico believes Bylaw 510 needs to remain in place and enforced despite these recent decisions.

“Schools shouldn’t be out there asking to come play for us,” he said.

Two games to go in 2023 season

Grant plays at Monterey Trail Friday and next week plays Laguna Creek in games that will determine this season’s Metro Conference championship. No one at those Elk Grove Unified schools wanted to comment at this time on the Green ruling and its possible effects for future rulings.

Nixon says, in reflecting on the situation, his issue is with Grant football not necessarily Green departing Sheldon.

“It’s about looking at myself and saying, ‘If I had another player in my locker room from another school who was not enrolled at Sheldon High School, I don’t know how much longer I would be allowed to coach’,” Nixon said. “I would have guessed there would have been some sort of sanction against a school for the evidence presented to them, but I guess obviously not. That part of it is mind-boggling.”


Wednesday, October 18, 2023

If the playoffs started today ...

We're down to the final two weeks of the regular season for high school football. The only local teams eliminated from the post-season are Franklin, Florin and Valley. The others have a chance of making the playoffs. We explain that HERE.  in a post from the Elk Grove Citizen.

I have been quite busy during this transition from Valley Oak Press' ownership of the Citizen to Messenger Publishing Group. The new-look Friday newspaper seems to be getting some nice reviews from readers, albeit items like Elizabeth Pinkerton's column and our history feature looking back at this week 70, 50, 30 years ago, etc. are now missing. A few readers have made mention about that.

If you've noticed the Citizen Sports actually starts on the back page of the weekly newspaper and goes inside a couple pages. That's just a unique and different look. A couple of my college interns have done some nice work recently and their stories have been in the past two issues.

I would encourage you to pick up a copy of the print Citizen at newsstands on Thursdays and Fridays. Go into one of our local grocery stores or drug stores. Better yet, subscribe and you'll get a copy mailed to you weekly. Phone 916-685-5533.

I would ask all old timers in Elk Grove to give Paul Scholl, our new publisher, a chance to establish his system over the next several months. I will say that he's even going around Elk Grove delivering newspapers in some neighborhoods just to get the Citizen in people's hands..

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

PG's Singh blisters Arcade Creek and cards a 60

Gianna Singh's 12-under-par 60 Monday at the Delta League's first Center match of the season is likely a Sac-Joaquin Section record for best 18-hole round.

 Read about it :HERE

Thursday, September 07, 2023

Week Three Prep Football Predictions

Games Friday, Sept. 8

(CalPreps.com ratings in parathenses)

San Ramon Valley (36.5) vs. Elk Grove (7.1)
Prediction: San Ramon 38, Elk Grove 13

Franklin (-23.7) vs. Lodi (-10.8)
Prediction: Lodi 28, Franklin 12

Monterey Trail (12.9) vs. Pittsburg (37.8)
Prediction: Pittsburg 38, Monterey Trail 13

Inderkum (16.7) vs. Cosumnes Oaks (-4.1)
Prediction: Inderkum 35, Cosumnes Oaks 21

Bradshaw Chr. (-4.1) vs. Sutter (0.0)
Prediction: Sutter 21, Bradshaw Christian 18

Laguna Creek (2.5) vs. Pleasant Grove (0.0)
Prediction: Laguna Creek 18, Pleasant Grove 16

Sheldon (-2.4) vs. Oakdale (10.6)
Prediction: Oakdale 16, Sheldon 7

Valley Christian (-55.3) vs. Valley (-89.1)
Prediction: Valley Christian 30, Valley 6

Season's over for Sheldon's Manning; Armstead named Niner captain

Just when it looked like the 2023 Major League Baseball season was really starting to look up for former Sheldon Huskie Matt Manning, bad luck reared its ugly head on Sept. 6 for the Detroit Tiger starting pitcher.

“Bad luck. It’s just one of those things,” Manning said in the locker room following the game. “I was annoyed right when it happened that is was the same foot.”

On April 11 in just his second start of the season, Manning was hit by a ball hit off the bat of the Blue Jays’ Alejandro Kirk. A toe on his right foot was fractured. Manning missed two months of the season.

Then in Wednesday’s game at Yankee Stadium, he was hit on the same foot by a comebacker off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton. Statcast measured the exit velocity at 119.5 mph. Manning was able to grab the ball after it ricocheted off the foot and his backside to throw Stanton out at first base.

He was able to walk off the field under his own power, but X-rays showed it was indeed another fracture. Manning’s 2023 season is over.

“I feel for him, man,” Tiger manager A.J. Hinch told MLB.com, “because he worked hard to get back. He was throwing the ball very well. He got through that inning, and unfortunately, got in the way of the ball.”

Manning debuted in the Majors in 2021 and has yet to complete a full season. Last year it was right should inflammation and a right forearm strain.

He’s made 13 starts since returning from injury No. 1 on June 27 and as of late has allowed just one earned run over his past four starts. In that stretch was a streak of 17 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings.

Time to catch up with locals in the NFL

The season got underway this past weekend around the arenas of the National Football League but in the furious days prior to the kickoff of the 2023 schedule, all the teams scoured the waiver wires, signed new players, cut others, and did everything necessary to make a 53-man active roster and a 16-man practice squad.

Along with that came a few contract renegotiations in order to keep the team total payroll under the league’s “cap.” One of those was former Sheldon Huskie Taron Johnson, the veteran cornerback converted $3.93 million of his 2023 salary into a signing bonus, adding one void year (whatever that means) and, thus, cleared $2.62 million of cap room for the Buffalo Bills.

Ask a pro football accountant what all that means.

However, at a salary level like that, you can see Johnson is appreciated and liked by the Bills and its fans.

About 10 days ago with the NFL teams cut their pre-season rosters down to 53, a couple former EGUSD student/athletes were looking for new jobs. Cosumnes Oaks grad Kahlef Hailassie, who played his college football at Western Kentucky, was cut by the Chiefs, as was Franklin’s Lamar Jackson. Hailassie was claimed off waivers by the Browns Aug. 30. Jackson remains unemployed in the NFL. This would be Jackson’s third season in the League with brief practice squad stops with the Jets, Bears, plus one game of experience with Denver. Jackson played his college ball at Nebraska.

A former Sheldon Huskie, Alex Cook, was waived by the New York Giants Aug. 29, but signed to the practice squad the next day. He’s a safety who played collegiately at Washington.

Arik Armstead, now with the 49ers, is earning $15.89 million this year, according to Spotrac, a sports website which follows all professional athletes. He has eight years of NFL experience and is in the third year of a five-year deal worth $85 million. He played his high school football at Pleasant Grove. Armstead was named one of the team captains this season by his 49er teammates.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Week Two Football Predictions

 High School Games Friday, Sept. 1 

It's Week Two of the high school football season (third game of the season for most...remember the first week is called "Week Zero"). We've got a couple pretty good games here in town this week. No one should stay home on Fridays in Elk Grove. Your local high school stadium is where you should be!

(Calpreps.com ratings in parenthesis)

Bradshaw Chr. (-7.7) vs. Pacheco (-27.3)

May the Pride Parade keep right on rolling to a 2-1 record in Los Banos. Bradshaw 27, Pacheco 7

Cosumnes Oaks (-6.5) vs. Woodcreek (19.2)

Woodcreek is one of the top Div. III schools in the Section. They manhandled Franklin in Week Zero shut out Whitney, a SFL team, 25-0 last week. They are good. Wolfpack look good last week vs. Pitman, but not sure they'll handle Woodcreek Friday. Woodcreek 28, Cosumnes Oaks 14

Menlo/Atherton (5.2) vs. Elk Grove (17.7)

The Thundering Herd offense was impressive last week at Antelope and that should continue in its home opener Friday. Elk Grove 34, Meno 21

Florin (-78.6) vs. Mesa Verde (-39.7)

Let's hope the Panthers find the key to victory, but perhaps not this week. Mesa Verde 24, Florin 6

Laguna Creek (-1.3) vs. Roseville (3.5)

If Halim Tholley is back in action and the Cardinal offense look as good as they did last week against Franklin, Laguna Creek should win this on the road. Laguna Creek 28, Roseville 24

St. Francis (11.9) vs. Monterey Trail (19.6)

One thing lost in the Mustangs' Week Zero loss to Folsom was their time of possession was over 35 minutes. They had a punt blocked, threw an interception in their own territory and allowed a long kickoff return all in the first quarter and got behind the 8-ball. Then Monterey Trail's veer running game got going, but just couldn't score. This week, it will.

Monterey Trail 32, St. Francis 18

Pleasant Grove (2.9) vs. West Park (3.1)

Ask Laguna Creek's Ryan Nill how good West Park is. Now the 2-0 Eagles get to take on the same guys with some excellent momentum. Let's say this week PG bombs in a few more field goals (rare in prep football) and pulls out an on-paper upset? Pleasant Grove 32, West Park 29

Tracy (2.7) vs. Sheldon (4.2)

After laying an egg last week in Vacaville, let's have the Huskies and its single-wing offense run around a bit leaving Tracy in the dust. Sheldon 33, Tracy 28

Valley (-89.6) vs. Ponderosa (-32.4)

I remember the days of Jr. Herd football when the Bruins were one of the toughest guys to beat. That was 20 years ago. Herd is still good. Pondo just isn't as good now. But they'll beat up on Valley. Have mercy guys.

Ponderosa 36, Valley 0

Community Colleges:

American River vs. Sacramento City (Saturday, Sept. 2, 1 p.m.) Hughes Stadium

It's too bad these Los Rios schools aren't in the same league, but they still play each other every year. City College will be better this season because they have the Nixon brothers from Sheldon, but the Beavers have Jon Osterhout and a good crew of guys back this season.

ARC 32, SCC 21

Girls Golf

Two of the top Division I girls golf teams played Wednesday with Granite Bay defeating defending Section champion Pleasant Grove 197-203. Absent for the match was the Eagles' Alaythia Hinds, but the rest of the squad did pretty well over nine holes of Rancho Murieta Country Club's North Course:
Pleasant Grove - Gianna Singh 36, Sophie Cook 37, Petra Yee 38, Aidie Smith 46, Aubrey 46, Hannah Ngo 50.
Coach Rob Rinaldi, "I was real happy with how we competed."

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

EG-Area Football Standings (Sept. 1, 2023)

Delta League

                    W-L     All     Rating

Pleasant Gr. 0-0     2-0     2.9

Jesuit           0-0     1-0     20.3

Elk Grove     0-0     1-1     17.8

Sheldon       0-0     1-1      4.3

Cos. Oaks    0-0     1-1     -6.4

Franklin        0-0     0-2     -19.3

Davis           0-0     0-2     -24.7


Week One

Laguna Creek 35, Franklin 0

Cosumnes Oaks 49, Pitman 24

Pleasant Gr. 36, Christian Bros. 35

Vacaville 41, Sheldon 8

Jesuit 30, Bishop Manogue 14

Del Campo 21, Davis 13

Metro Conference

                    W-L     All     Rating

River City     0-0     2-0     -13.1

Grant            0-0     1-1     24.8

Burbank       0-0     1-1     -33.9

Laguna Cr.    0-0    1-1     -1.2

Monterey Tr. 0-0     0-1     19.7

McClatchy     0-0     0-2     -39.7

Kennedy        0-0     0-2     -61.9


Week One

Oak Ridge 21, Grant 18

Burbank 14, Weston Ranch 8

River City 21, Lincoln 7

Rio Americano 43, McClatchy 0

Bear River 52, Kennedy 0

Greater Sacramento League

                    W-L     All     Rating

Foothill         0-0     1-0     -24.5

Johnson       0-0     0-1     -30.9

Natomas      0-0     0-2     -26.9

Florin           0-0     0-2     -78.7

Cordova      0-0     0-2     -62.0

Valley          0-0     0-2     -89.5


Week One

Riverbank 28, Valley 6

Armijo 64, Florin 0

Bella Vista 36, Johnson 16

Foothill 20, Oakmont 13

El Capitan 28, Cordova 0

Sierra Valley Conference

                        W-L     All     Rating

Rosemont        0-0     2-0     -8.6

Union Mine      0-0     2-0     -17.4

Galt                 0-0     2-0     -43.7

Brads. Chr.      0-0     1-1     -7.6

Lib. Ranch       0-0     0-1     -14.2

El Dorado       0-0      0-2 -    42.3


Week One

Bradshaw Christian 41, Lathrop 7

Rosemont 31, Del Campo 28

Union Mine 26, Argonaut 6

Ponderosa 35, El Dorado 21

Galt 14, Franklin (Stkn.) 6

(Ratings courtesy Cal Preps. com)

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Local high school football predictions (Aug. 25 games)

 Note: based on the team ratings from Calpreps.com

Pleasant Grove (-9.1) vs. Christian Brothers (16.5)

Prediction: Christian Bros. 35, Pleasant Grove 8

Franklin (-9.4) vs. Laguna Creek (-2.2)

Prediction: Cardinals 18, Franklin 12

Elk Grove (21.2) vs. Antelope (6.3)

Prediction: Herd 21, Antelope 6

Bradshaw Christian (-3.3) vs. Lathrop (-29.6)

Prediction: Bradshaw 31, Lathrop 7

Florin (-73.8) vs. Armijo (-16.5)

Prediction: Armijo 45, Florin 8

Sheldon (14.8) vs. Vacaville (12.2)

Prediction: Huskies 22, Vacaville 20

Cosumnes Oaks (-3.4) vs. Pitman (-28.6)

Prediction: Wolfpack 24, Pitman 6

BYE - Monterey Trail (22.7)

Week Zero Football Roundup

 Pleasant Grove 30, Lodi 14

Line Score              1          2          3          4          Total

Pleasant Grove (1-0) 7          0          6          17        30

Lodi (0-1)                 7          0          7          0          14


A 7-7 halftime score was broken open on a 96-yard kickoff return by Marcus Tillotson. Caden Bemis iced the game for the Eagles with an 88-yard touchdown run.

Sheldon 26, Capital Christian 7

Line Score              1          2          3          4          Total

Sheldon (1-0)          14        0          6          6          26

Capital Chr. (0-1)     0          0          0          7          7


Despite the loss of 10 underclassmen from last season’s team to transfers, the Huskies took command of its 2023 season opener early on. James Kamara had 185 yards rushing on 25 carries and two TDs. Malakai Savage (55 yards rushing) and Damarea Harden (76 yards rushing) each scored a touchdown for Sheldon. The Huskies had 382 yards total offense, all on the ground. They passed just twice.

Granite Bay 27, Elk Grove 13

Line Score              1          2          3          4          Total

Elk Grove (0-1)        6          7          0          0          13

Granite Bay (1-0)    13        7          7          0          27


Thomas Koi had 81 yards rushing on eight carries to lead the Thundering Herd. A fumble and an interception proved costly to Elk Grove.

Woodcreek 44, Franklin 7

Line Score              1          2          3          4          Total

Woodcreek (1-0)      9          14        7          14        44

Franklin (0-1)           0          0          7          0          7 

West Park 35, Laguna Creek 20

Line Score              1          2          3          4          Total

West Park (1-0)       21        7          0          7          35

Laguna Creek (0-1)  0          7          6          7          20

Notes: (from Alejandro Barron)

For the second consecutive year the Cardinals fell to the Panthers to open their season. The contest at Cosumnes River College did not start well and at the end of the first quarter the Cardinals dug themselves into a hole with a 21-0 deficit. The offense was led by junior running back Armon Thorntona as he rushed for two touchdowns in the second and third quarter. The downfall for the Cardinals would be holding onto the football as numerous turnovers led to Panther touchdowns with the score at 35-13 during the fourth quarter. In the dying minute of this matchup, junior quarterback Mitchell Labrado connected with senior wide receiver Quincy Bootay for a 35-yard pass for a touchdown and with the extra point closed this matchup at 35-20. The Cardinals look to improve and be ready for the Franklin Wildcats on Friday at CRC.

Woodland Chr. 15, Bradshaw Chr. 14

Line Score                1        2          3          4          Total

Bradshaw (0-1)          0          0          7          7          14

Woodland Chr. (1-0)   0          0          0          15        15


In a defensive battle, the Pride’s Mateo Mojica gained 80 yards on the ground on 17 carries. Quarterback Ethan Rickert was five of 11 passing for 72 yards and a TD pass to Devyn Mcdonald.

Defensively, Mojica and Mcdonald led Bradshaw with 12 tackles apiece. 

Vanden 22, Cosumnes Oaks 20

Line Score              1          2          3          4          Total

Cos. Oaks (0-1)        7          0          7          6          20

Vanden (1-0)            7          9          0          6          22

Lindhurst 34, Florin 6

Line Score              1          2          3          4          Total

Florin (0-1)              0          0          0          6          6

Lindhurst (1-0)        14        20        0          0          34

Golden Sierra 35, Valley 22

Folsom 35, Monterey Trail 0

Line Score              1          2          3          4          Total

Folsom. (1-0)           28        7          0          0         35

Monterey Trail (0-1)  0          0          0          0          0


The Bulldogs dominated in the first quarter scoring quickly on Ryder Lyons’ 5-yard run and then blocked a Monterey Trail punt deep in Mustang territory. It was scooped up by Jaron Hodson and run in from 10 yards out. Following an interception of a Joseph Barrientos’ pass by R.J.Whitten and a return to the Monterey Trail 17, Lyons scored a second time on a 4-yard run.

Though the Mustangs recovered enough to stop the bleeding the rest of the way, they couldn’t find the end zone. The last time Monterey Trail was shut out was Aug. 28, 2015, a 28-0 loss to

Antelope. D’Adren Sanders led the Mustangs in rushing with 71 yards on 17 carries.

Full Statistics:

  ScoringSummary:                                               FL - MT

  1st 09:57 FL – Ryder Lyons 5 yd run (Lincoln Phelps kick)

                           5 plays, 45 yards, TOP 2:03            7 - 0

08:02 FL - Jaron Hodson 10 yd blocked punt return (Lincoln Phelps kick)

                                                                             14 - 0

      05:44 FL – Ryder Lyons 4 yd run (Lincoln Phelps kick)

                         3 plays, 16 yards, TOP 0:40            21 - 0

      02:17 FL – Daym Rivera 4 yd run (Lincoln Phelps kick)

                         2 plays, 47 yards, TOP 0:37            28 - 0

  2nd 04:50 FL - Jameson Powell 71 yd run (Lincoln Phelps kick)

                          1 play, 71 yards, TOP 0:11             35 - 0

                                                 FL                     MT

  FIRST DOWNS...................      14                     16

  RUSHES-YARDS (NET)...........12-136             49-178

  PASSING YDS (NET).............  152                   94

  Passes Att-Comp-Int...........  17-10-0            13-4-1

  TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS.29-288         62-272

  Fumble Returns-Yards.......... 0-0                   0-0

  Punt Returns-Yards............   1-33                 0-0

  Kickoff Returns-Yards.........    1-47                3-24

  Interception Returns-Yards...   1-19                 0-0

  Punts (Number-Avg)............  0-0.0               3-22.7

  Fumbles-Lost..................      1-1                   1-0

  Penalties-Yards...............     2-20                 6-68

  Possession Time...............   12:48               35:12

  Sacks By: Number-Yards........1-5                  1-8

RUSHING: Folsom-Jameson Powell 1-71; Ryder Lyons 6-37; Abram Woodson 4-24; Daym Rivera 1-4. Monterey Trail-D’Adrien Sanders 17-71; Joseph Barriento 11-47;

  Vontrell Waffer 12-32; Gabe Coronado 8-24; Denzell Butler 1-4.

  PASSING: Folsom-Ryder Lyons 10-17-0-152. Monterey Trail-Joseph Barriento 4-13-1-94.

  RECEIVING: Folsom-Brian RayIII 4-48; Taniela Tupou 2-42; Jameson Powell 2-17; Isaiah Williams 1-43; Abram Woodson 1-2. Monterey Trail-Arik Phillips 2-57; Denzell Butler 2-37.

  INTERCEPTIONS: Folsom-RJ Whitten 1-19. Monterey Trail-None.

Saturday, June 10, 2023

What is the attraction of Grant football?

 As most of our area high school football teams are in the midst of summer drills here in the month of June, word has come down that two more of the top Elk Grove-area players will play elsewhere this fall.

 Elk Grove’s talented all-purpose player Wayshawn Parker has told coach John Heffernan he’s transferring to Grant. And, at Sheldon, coach Chris Nixon says sophomore-to-be lineman Tommy Tofi will be playing for Archbishop Riordan in San Francisco. Parker will join another former Huskie, running back Devin Green, with the Pacers. Parker averaged 15.2 yards per carry last season for Elk Grove while scoring 20 TD’s. He totaled 1,785 yards in all-purpose yardage. Defensively, he averaged 4.8 tackles a game and picked off five passes. 

Green had informed Sheldon athletic director Jason Bumbaca in late April he was transferring to Grant. The Citizen has emailed Grant principal Darris Hinson asking why these two seniors-to-be were so attracted to his school. The Pacers are the defending CIF Division 3-AA State Champions, however, the two most talented running backs in EGUSD deciding to transfer for their senior seasons to the same school has, admittedly, raised suspicions. 

Tofi, who one local basketball coach described as, “the world’s largest human” (he’s 6-7, 325) has moved to San Francisco because, reportedly, his father got a new job. He was an all-Delta League offensive lineman as a freshman. But he was a standout on Sheldon’s basketball team, too, where he averaged 4.9 points and 4.8 rebounds a game. Brother John also was a key member of the Huskies’ basketball team.  

(courtesy 24/7 Sports) Tommy Tofi's 
photo is already on the Archbishop 
Riordan H.S. website. 

The CIF must approve of these transfers before anyone will play for their new teams. Tofi (and his brother) will likely be approved to play when the season kicks off Aug. 18 because the family has moved. Parker and Green may be another issue. Unless the family moves to Natomas, where Grant High School is located, both may not be eligible to play until mid-season, which CIF calls a “Sit-out period.” It’s a rule the Sac-Joaquin Section instituted a few years ago to try to cut down on high school free agency. But, any "pre-enrollment contact" as the CIF calls it could bring down a complete year of ineligibility. We'll be following these stories over the next few weeks.

Tuesday, May 09, 2023

2023 Sac-Joaquin Section Playoff Brackets

2023 CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Baseball Playoffs Division 1 

2023 CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Softball Playoffs Division 1

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Long Live Keanu – remembering a life cut way too short


There’s a bench in Jones Park placed in a specific location by his mother. It faces the playground where Keanu Michael Lloyd Apodaca-Young played for 12 years while living just a stone’s throw away. Keanu climbed cherry trees just behind the bench and hung out in the park with his friends for hours at a time. That same park bench is also a few feet away from the bathrooms where his lifeless body was found April 22, 2021. He was a victim of a fentanyl overdose. Keanu was just 17, a student a Monterey Trail High School.
“I know if he knew how dangerous it was, he would have never taken that pill,” Keanu’s mother, Charmaine Apodaca-Benivides said. 

Two years to the day Keanu passed away Apodaca-Benivides and other family members gathered at Keanu’s bench, paid for by Apodaca-Benivides and with the help of Cosumnes CSD, placed at just the “right spot” in Jones Park. The family had a regular feast of food on a table next to the bench for any friend or family member to sit under the shade of the trees, reconnect with each other and in their special way, remember the bundle of energy and life that was Keanu. White helium balloons bounced around in the wind with the initials “LLK” painted on them – “Long Live Keanu.” 

A large yellow butterfly flickers overhead. Apodaca-Benevides points to it and smiles, “There is Keanu. He’s been visiting us since this morning.” She’s found a bit of joy in those kind of things over the past two years, since that tragic day. She draws on the comfort and strength of her husband Henry and her two older sons Malik and William. Apodaca-Benivides also has used her energies over the past several months to make the community very aware of the sinister effects of fentanyl.

In fact, next to Keanu’s bench and for this day of remembrance she’s placed a display with photos of Keanu in elementary school, butterflies and purple flowers all surrounding two very sobering fliers. One states, “Fentanyl is an extremely dangerous drug that has been the cause of multiple local overdose deaths. We as a community need to make sure prosecution of those involved in the sale and distribution of fentanyl, ‘One Pill Can Kill’ and furnishing fentanyl ‘WILL’ results in murder charges in the event of a death.” 

The other flier is an informational one from the online resource, 1PillCanKillSac.com, an informational website from the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office. The website claims that 98 percent of the most common street pills tested are fake, and of those, 98 percent contained fentanyl. 

Apodaca-Benivides admits her son, through a friend or two, was experimenting in the time leading up to his death with opioids. She says she didn’t know it at the time. Later, she discovered Keanu and a female friend, through social media, had contacted a drug dealer for some pills, but little did they know, they were laced with fentanyl. “The doctor who did the autopsy says the amount of fentanyl in those pills would have killed 10 more people, as well,” Apodaca-Benivides said. 

Her display encourages parents to regularly monitor their children’s social media accounts. 1PillCanKillSac.com claims drug dealers contact children primarily through that kind of online app and money transfer apps, as well. Apodaca-Benivides says local law enforcement officials know who the drug dealer was who sold Keanu and his friend those deadly pills. 

“He’s gone into hiding,” she said. “There’s an arrest warrant out for him.” 

Just a small amount of fentanyl powder is deadly according to 1PillCanKillSac.com. Signs of an overdose include the individual cannot be woken up, their nails and lips turn blue. If conscious, they typically are dizzy and confused and may have choking or snoring sounds. Plus, they generally have difficulty staying awake. They say if you find someone with these symptoms to phone 911 immediately and stay with the person until help arrives. If available, the drug naloxone should be administered.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

How will Sky River Casino impact Elk Grove?

 (Note: I had written this story for the Elk Grove Citizen to be published around Sept. 1, 2022, anticipating a mid-September opening of Sky River Casino in Elk Grove. All of a sudden and with just a whisper on social media, the casino opened Aug. 16. After noting the Elk Grove Police blotter, which is printed weekly in the Citizen, it has become evident the top area of our city in which arrests are made is either along Promenade Parkway or at the intersection of Promenade and Sky River Parkway, the main entrance to the casino. I wrote this story in July and August of 2021 asking the question of how Sky River would effect Elk Grove. The jury is still out, or is it? Please comment below!)

Very soon long lines of automobiles will be turning off Highway 99 at Grantline Road and stream into the parking lot of Sky River Casino in Elk Grove. Recently, officials of the casino announced it will be opening the doors to customers in early September.

The Sky River Casino will include a 110,260 square-foot gaming space, 2,000 slot machines, and 80 gaming tables. About 2,000 people will be employed at the casino making it one of the city’s largest employers. 

But gambling won’t be the only thing going on at 1 Sky River Parkway. They will feature “The Market at Sky River,” a unique food and beverage marketplace with 12 different food and beverage venues, including culinary offerings from prominent local and regional restauranteurs.

Sky River was developed by Boyd Gaming, which will operate the facility under a management agreement with the Wilton Rancheria Tribe. The price tag for construction of the facility is a reported $500 million.

This will be the only Native American-owned gambling casino in Sacramento County. Others in the region include Jackson Rancheria near the town of Jackson, Harrah’s Northern California in Ione, Red Hawk Casino in El Dorado County and Thunder Valley, north of Rocklin in Placer County.

How successful will Sky River be over time with other similar gambling facilities nearby?

“We appreciate the question, but it's a bit premature,” David Strow, vice president of corporate communications of Boyd Gaming, wrote in an email in response to that question. “Our focus right now is getting Sky River Casino open in early September and getting the property off to a great start. We have a great location and fantastic amenities, and we think the community is going to like what they see when we open Sky River in the coming weeks.”

Boyd Gaming owns and operates 28 properties in ten states – Nevada, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, and Pennsylvania – according to their website.

Nationwide, tribal gaming has been a big industry. According to the American Gaming Association, 515 Native American-run casinos in the country had gross revenue of $27.8 billion in 2020. They supported more than 676,000 jobs and made an economic impact of $105.4 billion on the regions where the casinos were located.

There are 82 tribal casinos in California, supporting a little more than 124,000 jobs making a $19.96 billion economic impact. The American Gaming Association’s most recent revenue figures is from 2016 where gross gaming dollars earned by the tribal casinos in California totaled $8.4 billion.

Because Sky River Casino sits on land that is considered a sovereign nation, local municipalities have negotiated a series of “in lieu” payments with Wilton Rancheria for services.

Tribal Chair Jesus Tarango told the Citizen at the March 9, 2021, groundbreaking of the casino the operation would invest $186 million in the city of Elk Grove and Sacramento County over the next 20 years to support police, schools, roads and other services. Plus, he says, Sky River would provide the tribe resources to invest in housing, education and healthcare for the 853 tribal members 

Elk Grove City Manager Jason Behrmann has been in discussions with the tribe for about 10 years, going back to his days as Galt’s city manager. One possible site for the casino was near that city off Mingo Road. In recent years, though, Wilton Rancheria decided on the south Elk Grove site for Sky River Casino and Behrmann was instrumental in obtaining a memorandum of understanding for Elk Grove with Wilton Rancheria. 

Elk Grove city manager 
Jason Behrmann

“We had may discussions with other cities where tribal casinos had been,” he explained. “We had discussions with police chiefs, engineers and others to see how it was like for a casino to come into or near your city. What were those impacts? What were those agreements? So, we did a lot of homework and a lot of discussions with other government agencies to understand what those impacts might be in our community.”

The result was a $10 million up front payment to the City of Elk Grove and a $4 million “in lieu” payment made annually for numerous services to mitigate the impact made by Sky River.

“Traffic’s a big one,” Behrmann said. “Obviously it brings in a lot of people, from in the community and, certainly, from out of town, as well, which can be both a good and a bad thing. A good thing can be they can spend money, not just in the casino, but can support area businesses, as well. But, you can have negative impacts with congested roads in the area and we try to address that to the best of our ability.”

Several Elk Grove residents have used this one concern repeatedly over the past few years in expressing their objection for a casino within the city limits. Lynn Wheat is one such person. She has actively been working with the city and the city council on its general plan updates the past several years.

“In what is clearly documented in the general plan update, the accompanying (Environmental Impact Report) and the over-riding considerations, the traffic congestion we are going to have is the traffic we are going to be living with because the Council feels any economic benefits outweighs any of the traffic that we are going to be living with,” she said. “So, we can ignore traffic because it is more important for projects to come to our city that will be an economic boost.”

With plans for the Sacramento Zoo virtually alongside Sky River coming in a few years, Wheat says, “You know what I see in five to 10 years? Los Angeles…I have seen this in too many other regions who did not come up with a smart growth plan.”

Increase in crime?

Another concern that was addressed in these negotiations with the tribe, according to Behrmann, was crime, both at the site as well as that which spills over into the community.

“What we found is that while there is crime to some magnitude at the facility, it is no different than a retail mall,” he said. 

Behrmann said in talks with municipal police chiefs near gaming casinos he was told there was little crime spilling over into areas near the facilities.

“It was fairly localized and primarily in and around the parking lots of those facilities,” Behrmann said. 

Casino to the east and Zoo to the west

Lennar Homes continues to build 289 homes starting at $500,000  in “The Elements in Sterling Meadows” a few hundred yards west of Sky River. Until recently the only egress in and out of The Elements was on Bilby Road which ends at the main entrance to the casino at West Stockton Blvd. Earlier this year a west egress opened on Lotz Road which to the south exits onto newly-widened Kammerer Road. 

Bilby Road, about a mile to the west of Sky River, dead ends into the future sight of the Sacramento Zoo.

Residents, the City and CSD recently celebrated the opening of Entrican Park, right in the middle of The Elements in Sterling Meadows. Chanan Singh, who has lived in the neighborhood since January, enjoys the new park and his new home in The Elements. 

“I don’t believe the casino will affect us,” he said. “It’s too far away. I feel safe here and I know Elk Grove Police, if you call them, will come quickly.”

Jeff, who didn’t disclose his last name, and his wife have lived for a year in The Elements. They have attended a recent community event organized by the Zoo. Their home would be a fairly short walk to the proposed parking lot of the Zoo along Kammerer Road. It would be a longer walk to Sky River. At this time, he has a wait-and-see attitude towards both attractions.

“What will it affect? Will there be a spill-over of crime? We really have to wait and see,” he said.

Jeff added that investors are already buying homes in his development knowing the Casino is nearby.

“About three houses away is an Air B-and-B,” he said. “I wonder if more will pop up because of the proximity of the casino.”

MOU’s with local municipalities

The $10 million upfront payment to the city, Behrmann said, was for building up the infrastructure, such as the roadways leading up to the casino. About a million-and-a-half dollars paid each year by the Wilton Rancheria will go towards law enforcement.

“We were able to hire some additional officers, so we can mitigate any spillover and promptly address any crime that might occur,” he said.

About $500,000 a year will be paid to Elk Grove for regular maintenance on the roads around the casino, according to Behrmann. Part of the city’s MOU contains a $400,000 payment to Elk Grove Unified School District and smaller annual payments to local unnamed non-profits.

“They were great partners with us in working with us on this MOU, negotiating this agreement, they were very willing to recognize the impacts and were willing to pay the community,” he said.

The tribe also negotiated similar MOU’s with the County of Sacramento and Cosumnes Community Services District. 

Behrmann said that should Sky River ever falter or close, the city and other local municipalities would continue to receive the annual “in lieu” payments from Wilton Rancheria.

“The payments are not contingent on any revenue the tribe brings in,” he said. “This is not tax revenues. Tax revenues fluctuate. This is a guaranteed payment regardless of how successful the casino is.”

This is unlike the past 13 years where the city earned no tax revenue from this site ever since construction on the planned Elk Grove Outlet Collection was halted.

“This prime land, was orginally going to be a regional mall, was certainly set up to be some kind of successful retail center,” Behrmann said. “If there weren’t these MOU’s negotiated then the city would have had significant loss for an future opportunity for revenues for different kinds of developments. (Wilton Rancheria and the City) were able to come to an agreement on that so that that land can be successful and produce the revenue that is going to be needed for not only a growing community, but also the impacts of traffic and everything that would come along from such a large development.”

Propane tanks and property values

The casino’s proximity to Suburban Propane’s large facility on Grantline Road has been one of the concerns which Wheat and others have brought up over the past several years. She says Suburban’s large propane storage tanks is on the Department of Homeland Security’s “Threat List,” yet development has continued very close by. Should those tanks be compromised in some way, thousands would be affected, Wheat claims.

“Anyone that lives close to there won’t be able to evacuate, especially if you look at the traffic congestion that will be along Grantline,” she claims. “How do they get out?”

Wheat quickly mentioned Suburban Propane has been proactive in updating and maintaining security at its facility to try to avoid such a catastrophe. 

Most of the residents of The Elements the Citizen spoke with didn’t know about the Suburban Propane facility. 

It’s too early and too speculative for those the Citizen talked to about effects the casino may bring to the property value of homes and businesses in its immediate vicinity. But, this concern isn’t just exclusive to Elk Grove. As David Frum wrote recently for “The Atlantic” magazine, the impact of casinos on neighboring property values is “unambiguously negative.”

“Casinos don’t encourage non-gaming businesses to open nearby, because the people who most often visit casinos do not wander out to visit other shops and businesses,” he writes. “A casino is not like a movie theater or a sports stadium, offering a time-limited amusement. It is designed to be an all-absorbing environment that does not release its customers until they have exhausted their money.”

Reasons for optimism

There are reasons, though, why the Wilton Rancheria tribal members and Elk Grove City officials should be optimistic about the future of Sky River. According to Allan Mallach, writing for the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, “the economic and fiscal benefits of casinos, both to the state and the host cities, depend on where the casino visitors come from and where the casino workforce comes from. The ideal, from an economic standpoint, is a community with a large local workforce and also a large regional and multistate visitor pool.”

“The more local the workforce, the greater the share of casino revenues that stay in the community, and the greater the multiplier effect of those revenues on the local economy,” Mallach wrote. “The more that casino visitors come from outside the area, the less that the local community will suffer the displacement of revenues that occurs when casino-goers bypass local entertainment and other local spending.”


Drive from Elk Grove north to Sacramento along Highway 99 and the billboards begin at about the same spot as the new Sky River Casino.The week it opened, no fewer than two-dozen casino billboards were up on Sacramento County freeways.

The competition in the Sacramento area’s crowded tribal gaming landscape is not only clear from behind the wheel. It is also evident in the ever-evolving arms race for regional casino superiority.

Consider: ▪ A new 150-room hotel and an all-ages entertainment center under construction at Red Hawk Casino & Resort in Shingle Springs. ▪ Large new spaces for music and other events at Thunder Valley Casino Resort in Lincoln. ▪ Ditto for another Sacramento-area newcomer Hard Rock Casino Resort Sacramento at Fire Mountain farther up the road in Wheatland.

Social Media Comments

On the Nextdoor app the Citizen asked Elk Grove residents for its immediate reaction to the Sky River opening. Here are what a few wrote:

“We really have no industry here and with all the new homes being built people have to work some place so I see it as job opportunities for many. If you do not approve of the casino, don’t go. If you do, enjoy.” – Genell Foltz

“If I push my car I can make it to the casino in three minutes…I have gone six times since it opened on the 16th. I really enjoy it. Slots are getting more loose. The last time I went there was not a machine I didn’t touch that didn’t hit right away. I came home with $933, only starting with $40. Not too bad! The parking lot can hold tons of cars so there should not be a concern with neighborhood parking anymore.” – Kathy Cline