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Placer eager for another title shot

Hillmen host Colfax in pivotal PVL battle
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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Despite all of Placer High’s recent success on the football field, a Pioneer Valley League title has eluded the Hillmen.
Coach Joey Montoya has seen his team fall in its biggest PVL battles over the past four seasons.
“We’ve had big games with Whitney, Lincoln and Colfax, and we’ve unfortunately been on the short end of those,” Montoya said.
The PVL title will likely be decided at Le Febvre Stadium tonight. Defending champion Colfax will be in Auburn, bringing its balanced offense and solid defense into what promises to be another classic showdown. Both teams are 2-0 in the PVL.
“This is why you lift weights in January,” Montoya said. “This is why we have offseason programs, to be ready for a game like this. We’ve had a great week. Our kids are focused on themselves and doing their jobs to the best of their abilities.”
Placer (6-1) is battle-tested after slugging out a 10-6 win over Bear River earlier this month. Colfax breezed through its first two PVL games against Center and Foothill.
Both teams are prolific on offense. Placer’s running game accounts for 421 yards per game. Colfax’s Hunter Perez leads the PVL in rushing with 185 yards per outing. The Hillmen lead the league with 52 points per game. Colfax is right behind with 48 points a game and quarterback Austin Young leads the PVL with 209 yards per game and 19 touchdowns.
Placer’s defense has pummeled teams over the past month and senior Anthony Hess will be back on the field after sitting out last week’s win over Lincoln as a precautionary measure. The speedy safety will be a key as the Hillmen focus on the Falcons’ multi-faceted attack.
“On offense (Colfax) does a phenomenal job, running screens, the short passing game and using their deep threats,” Montoya said. “Our biggest focus has definitely been on the intermediate passing and screens.”
Colfax’s defense is bracing for the wing-T running game, which features senior backs Joe Mangino and Brad Spangler along with junior fullback Michael Robinson.
Both coaching staffs are renowned for their schemes and thorough game planning.
“It’s two teams that know each other well,” Montoya said. “The key for us is to focus on doing what we do at a higher level.”
Granite Bay (6-1) at Del Oro (6-1)
It’s another intense rivalry game, and another potential league-title deciding matchup in Loomis.
After surviving at Nevada Union last Friday, the Golden Eagles (2-0 Sierra Foothill League) will look to bottle up the Grizzlies’ explosive offense, led by quarterback Brendan Keeney.
Keeney is averaging 165 passing yards per game and has tossed 15 touchdown passes with just three interceptions. Senior Adam Wagner is his favorite target.
Arik Bird leads the running game for Granite Bay (2-0 SFL) with 124 yards per game.
The Eagles’ offense recovered from three turnovers against the Miners as quarterback Bobby Heatherington engineered the game-winning drive, on which Nick O’Sullivan and Russell Smith came up big.
Heatherington threw just his third interception of the season. He also has 15 TD passes. O’Sullivan and junior Brandon Monroe are both averaging more than 100 yards a game on the ground.
Bear River (5-2) at Lincoln (2-5)
The Bruins are suddenly desperate for victories to qualify for the postseason after their shocking loss at Center last Friday.
The Zebras (1-1 PVL) have a tough running back in Isaac Allen (178 yards per game), whom they hope can lead them to the playoffs.
Teams must win at least two league games to qualify for the postseason.
Bear River (0-2 PVL) was uncharacteristically sloppy on defense in the loss to the Cougars and lost the game on a kickoff return for a touchdown in the final minute of the game.
Josh Toft had a big game at running back and quarterback James Harris played well in the loss.
Foresthill (6-1) at Valley Christian (1-6)
The Wildfires have not lost since Aug. 26 at Marysville and could bolster their position at the top of the Sacramento Metro League with a road win Saturday.
Foresthill took care of the Lions 51-6 on Sept. 16. Valley won its first game of the season last week, beating Cristo Rey 28-12.
Look for Wildfires quarterback Tommy Sawyer to surpass the 1,000-yard mark for the season. He needs just 50 yards to do so.