Matching their skills on the gridiron

Placer, Nevada county law enforcement suit up for Battle at the Capital
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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Rick Padilla didn’t need to be talked into a football game pitting Placer County law enforcement against their Nevada County counterparts. More than 40 Placer law men jumped at the opportunity to put the helmets and pads back on. They will take the field Sept. 4 for the finale of The Battle at the Capital at Del Oro High. The game will conclude a weekend packed with football. It’s all an effort to showcase local gridiron talent and raise funds for the Wounded Warriors, a non-profit for injured military veterans. Padilla said he had already been working on organizing a Placer County law enforcement football team when he ran into Mark Soto, who is heading up the Battle at the Capital. “He gave me a bit of the history about it and I mentioned to him that a lot of our guys are current or retired military,” said Padilla, a sergeant at the Placer County Sheriff’s Dept. “There’s that tie-in and it’s a great cause. I think we’ve got a very good team.” Placer County Sheriff’s Deputy Ken Skogen is an Air Force veteran and one of the team’s standouts. At 6-4, 255 pounds he’s got NFL size for his tight end/linebacker positions. He’s been impressed with the dedication of the players, many of whom shelled out hundreds of dollars for equipment, uniforms and shoes for the event. “My sentiments were, ‘It’s about time we had a team,’” Skogen said. “I work out a lot and to have the opportunity to got out and play full contact football — I couldn’t wait. We’re doing it for a good cause, to help Wounded Warriors, so it’s great.” The Placer County team is made up of all levels of law enforcement, from city policemen and jail personnel to parole officers and all levels of the sheriff’s department. They’ve met twice a week since June at Del Oro High for practices. Del Oro coaches Jerry Van Lengen, Matt McLemore, Lou Fernandez and Tim Makela have pitched in to help the players, some of whom haven’t been on the field since high school. Padilla represented the Placer law men several years ago, but he’s now on the coaching side, along with Ryan Berry, an on-campus officer at Del Oro. “My mind says yes, but the body says absolutely not,” Padilla explained. Berry, who also assists the Del Oro JV team, is a former player, but he has enjoyed coaching the Placer County squad. “The guys don’t get to hang out much outside of work, so this is a chance for them to get together and have fun,” Berry said. “We can’t get in the practice time that we’d like to, but it should be a good time.” Several young players have impressed the coaching staff. Colfax native Adam Metcalf is the team’s quarterback. Del Oro grad Andrew Bonner, the son of Placer County Sheriff Ed Bonner, is a speedy running back. Bear River grad Kyle Grant is a tough offensive lineman. Skogen, who grew up in Spokane, Wash., said the team may not be technically polished, but the competition will be intense on gameday. “It’s going to be very aggressive,” Skogen said. “Cops are Alpha personalities and someone’s going to lose that game. It will be a good, healthy competition, but I guarantee there will be some good hits.”