History, hope for Hillmen in Colfax

Sensational second half, encouraging news on forfeits leaves Placer on a high heading into finale
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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COLFAX — Placer High’s football season looked bleak two weeks ago following a home loss to Bear River and the stunning news the Hillmen would be forfeiting three wins. Things turned much brighter in a few short hours in Colfax Friday night. The Hillmen rallied from a 21-7 deficit to edge Colfax 34-28. Placer’s first win over Colfax since the Hillmen joined the Pioneer Valley League in 2006 kept them in playoff contention and put a dent in the Falcons’ playoff hopes. Placer also learned Friday that the California Interscholastic Federation’s Office of Appeals will give Placer an appeal hearing on Thursday in Lodi, meaning the Hillmen could have their forfeits reversed. The Hillmen made sure their playoff destiny remained in their hands with their best performance under second-year coach Joey Montoya. Trailing by two touchdowns in the second quarter, the Hillmen drove 68 yards and cashed in with a 4-yard run from Matt Ross. Placer then kept Colfax off the scoreboard in the first half’s final minute after the Falcons had a first-and-goal at the 5-yard line. “”We knew that was it. That was the turning point in the game,” Placer linebacker Seth Parrish said of the stop. “That just totally dropped their morale and boosted ours.” Placer (3-6 overall, 2-3 Pioneer Valley League) took control with touchdowns on three straight possessions in the second half. Ross did a little bit of everything, scoring on two quarterback sneaks and hitting Jordan Arndt with a 67-yard pass for the go-ahead touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter. An elated Placer crowd stormed the field after Ross downed the ball on the final play of the game. It was Placer’s first win over Colfax (5-4 overall, 2-3 PVL) since 1990. “It’s been a tough season for us,” Ross said. “Nothing’s really gone right for us this season, so this feels good.” Ross rushed for 86 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries. He also completed 10 of 13 passes for 174 yards. Jeff Divine did all he could for the Falcons. The senior was spectacular, finishing with six catches for 114 yards and three touchdowns, including a 37-yarder from Spencer Lewis with 1 minute, 12 seconds left in the game. “Divine is really good. He’s going to get his touches, get his touchdowns,” Ross said. “But our defense stepped up in the second half.” Colfax’s onside kick with 1:12 left in the game was touched by a Falcon player before traveling the required 10 yards and Placer drained the clock. The Falcons moved the ball virtually at will in the first half. Their only punt came after their first series and was mishandled by the Hillmen, leading to Cody Shafer’s 53-yard touchdown on a pass from Lewis. The Placer defense finally stiffened in the final 30 seconds of the second quarter. Two straight Colfax fumbles and a spike to stop the clock led to a 30-yard field goal attempt. But the snap was mishandled and the Hillmen grabbed the momentum heading into the break. “All year, we haven’t made those plays,” Placer coach Joey Montoya said of the defensive stand. “And finally, we made it.” The Hillmen held the high-powered Colfax offense to just one first down in the second half. “Coach (John) Miller and the defensive staff did a great job making the necessary adjustments to the run and their underneath passing game,” Montoya said. “We needed to play with a little more passion and belief and they did.” The Hillmen need a victory over Whitney at home next Friday to secure a section playoff berth. Should their victories over El Dorado and Mesa Verde be reinstated, a win over the Wildcats would also give Placer a share of the PVL title. “We’re on a mission,” Parrish said. “It’s time for Whitney to lose. They’re due. We just want the playoffs, no matter what.” Colfax must win its finale at Lincoln and hope for a Placer loss and an El Dorado loss at Bear River to make the playoffs. Junior Varsity Placer 26, Colfax 0 — The Hillmen clinched the Pioneer Valley League JV championship in emphatic fashion, using hard-hitting defense and great special teams play in their first shutout of the season. Darren Centi intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown to highlight the Placer scoring. Cody Barger also had an interception while the defensive line was anchored by Anthony Truell and Chione Song. Linebacker Caleb Mitchell also had a big game for Placer (8-1 overall, 5-0 PVL) as defensive coordinator Kenny Leggit keyed the gameplan.