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A look at the CAL and SFL

By: Jim Linsdau Placer Herald Sports Editor
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Capital Athletic League _ The Whitney Wildcats football team showed little sign of any carry over from their loss to Ceour d’Alene as they rolled over Christian Brothers for their third win of the preseason, Friday. Pre-league play indicates the ‘Cats are the best balanced team in the CAL. Two clubs, Rio Americano (1-3), and Antelope (1-3) are averaging more points per game, but so too are their defenses. And neither chose to play the No. 1 team in Idaho as Whitney did. The Quarry Bowl champions could be well on their way to other championships this year as well. Whitney’s soccer team opens its CAL campaign, Thursday, against Rio Americano after four preseason games. However, the Wildcats played well in those four matches. Head soccer coach Chad Smith seems to be satisfied his club is ready in spite of the limited preseason. The biggest challenge appears will come from El Camino, unbeaten and untied in 10 games. Team history would indicate preseason might not reveal much. In 2009, the Wildcats made the playoffs after going 2-2-1 in preseason. They were co-champs with El Dorado while still in the Pioneer Valley League. The Wildcats volleyball team is not off to the start they had hoped. Now three games into league, they are 1-2 and find themselves in fourth place in the CAL. The good news, the two teams they lost to are ranked No. 1 and No.2 in league. The additional good news is their loss to No. 1 El Camino was on the Eagles’ home court. Also, the Wildcats lost the sets 25-21, 25-18, and 25-20. Something I’m sure Whitney is convinced they can overcome when El Camino visits Whitney. Although they dropped their match with Rio Americano, they were up 2-1 when there appeared to be a collapse. Wildcats head coach James Todd said his club isn’t quite ready yet for prime time. “We just fell apart mentally,” wrote head coach James Todd by e-mail. “We’re trying to build a new culture so we must beat the mental game.” Whitney’s cross-country team appears destined for a great year. Runner Ryan Hodgens is running away from the field and the boys are running as a pack. The girls aren’t quite as strong, but if Jenica Dodge’s teammates work on keeping pace with her, watch out for the Wildcats. The Whitney girls are keeping pace in the CAL water polo campaign. They are 2-1 with wins over Antelope and Mira Loma. The game against the Matadors was a shutout. Both the boys and girls may have lost to non-league opponent Bella Vista this week, but both coach Kari Ustaszewski and Steve Casperite were not that concerned. The Broncos program has been around four times longer than has the Wildcats. Sierra Foothill League _ Rocklin High football has had to work this preseason to find a way to win. Because of that their 3-2 record ranks them tied with Roseville’s Tigers at the bottom of the SFL non-league standings. The last time the Thunder were 3-2 in preseason, they ended up 1-4 in league. Their only SFL win that year was over Roseville. Rocklin soccer sits at 4-5-2 in preseason. It’s been quite a while since the Thunder has struggled that much prior to the start of league. Only Del Oro and Roseville have done worse in preseason. Granite Bay started 8-1-2, and like Woodcreek, already has one win in the SFL; Nevada Union and Roseville each have a loss. Still, soccer head coach Grant DePue was optimistic his club would make the playoffs again in 2011. The silver-and-blue volleyball team stands at 17-4 in preseason and appears destined to make a run at a section title. Only Division II El Camino has a more impressive record (16-1). Rocklin won the Sac-Joaquin Section Championship in 2010 by defeating the Eagles, 3-1. However, they lost to El Camino this season, 3-1, in a non-league matchup. League play has begun for the water polo teams. The boys sit in fourth place with a victory over Nevada Union, and a loss to Del Oro. The girls are also 1-1 defeating Granite Bay, but also losing to the Golden Eagles. Rocklin’s cross-country program is on the move up. The boys are running in tight formation with Ryan Jones leading the pack. The girls team is young, but looking stronger with each meet. This could be a great season for the Thunder runners. There wasn’t enough league information on golf, but Rocklin’s tennis team is poised to make a run at the SFL title, in spite of a narrow loss to Del Oro last week.