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Eagles eager for rematch, shot at title

By: Eric J. Gourley, Journal Sports Writer
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LOOMIS — Max Magleby has dreamt of a rematch since his go-ahead pass sailed through wide receiver Freddie Cargile’s fingertips and fell incomplete in the end zone. The Del Oro junior quarterback had a hard time letting go of the Golden Eagles 24-21 loss to Sierra Foothill League foe Rocklin on Nov. 6. Del Oro’s shot at vengeance didn’t seem likely when the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II bracket was released a week later, slotting the teams in opposite halves of one of the toughest fields in history. Fast-forward four weeks, and the No. 8 Eagles and No. 2 Thunder are the last teams standing. The league rivals will battle in front of a capacity crowd at UC Davis tonight for the section title and a coveted state bowl berth. “It’s always nice to have a rematch,” said Magleby, who has thrown for 2,048 yards and 23 touchdowns this season with impressive accuracy. “We’ve definitely learned from the mistakes we made and put in some new plays since that game. We’ve gotten a lot more experience in tough games and tough situations since that loss.” Del Oro (11-2) routed Christian Brothers in its playoff opener before upsetting undefeated top seed St. Mary’s and rallying from a 28-point halftime deficit to stun No. 4 Folsom in the semifinals. Rocklin (13-0) entered the playoffs as one of seven teams with perfect records. The Thunder trumped Elk Grove and Atwater before knocking off unbeaten No. 3 Grant to reach tonight’s championship. “They’re a great team,” Eagles head coach Casey Taylor said. “Obviously when you beat Grant, that’s a statement right there. They’ve got a great, explosive offense and their defense is really improved. We feel we had an opportunity to win during week 9 and just didn’t execute in the last few minutes. We feel we’re a much-improved team since then. It’s pretty awesome we’re both from the same league, playing for the section title.” Del Oro tailback Bryce Pratt has 2,381 yards and 37 touchdowns on 336 carries. When his sore ankle has kept him out for a series, Ibrahim Abukhdair has filled in well, rushing 54 times for 352 yards. Tight end Spencer Butterfield is also nursing a left ankle injury from the win over St. Mary’s. “We’re just fighting through it,” Butterfield said. “We can get through any pain right now. I mean, it’s too important at this point.” “It’s week 14,” Taylor said. “Everybody’s dinged up or bruised a little bit or you haven’t been playing hard. Nothing’s going to hold them out of the game.” Rocklin quarterback Jimmy Laughrea has completed 150 of 272 passes for 2,512 yards and 21 touchdowns. He has reliable targets in Holden Huff (34 catches for 884 yards, eight touchdowns), Kyle Garvella (38 catches for 630 yards, five touchdowns) and Tiger Sorenson (31 catches for 447 yards, three touchdowns). SFL offensive MVP Jackson Cummings is a bruising running back. Cummings has carried 273 times for 2,029 yards and 35 touchdowns. He’s also caught 22 passes for 230 yards. Rocklin is in the playoffs for only the second time in school history. The Eagles rallied from a 15-0 halftime deficit to beat the Thunder 18-15 in the 2005 section championship. Del Oro has won six section titles, tying Grant for third-most, behind only Escalon (7) and Central Catholic (15).