Plenty of sweat equity

By: Jim Linsdau/Sports Editor Lincoln News Messenger/Placer Herald
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The volleyball match between Whitney and Rocklin high schools is Aug. 27, not Aug. 17. There was a typo in the Wildcats’ preseason schedule last week. The temperatures this week were brutal for all but those athletes training indoors or in the pool. It was not a great time for laboring under a hot sun but for those who persevered they should come out of it in great shape. In the fall, perhaps the most anticipated sport is high school football. It’s a 10-game season plus the playoffs, should a team make it that far. Last year, Lincoln and Rocklin did not. The Fighting Zebras ended the season 2-8 with one win in the Pioneer Valley League. The Thunder was 3-7 but did not win a game in the Sierra Foothill League. Both schools had good junior varsity seasons with more than 30 sophomores from each potentially moving up to the varsity ranks this year. Each club should do better this season but graduation left them both with some large shoes to fill. The most intriguing situation could be at Whitney High. The Wildcats were 10-3 last year and went deep into the playoffs before meeting up with Del Oro. The Golden Eagles are being bumped up to Division II this year. Coach Michael Gimenez lost some heavyweights from last year, including quarterback Jake Rodrigues and Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick. Those two will be tough to replace, but the JV team is sending along some pretty solid recruits. The sophomore ‘Cats were 8-2 in 2011 dropping a decision to Rocklin and Woodcreek. Last year, all-everything player Kyle McCray could help ease the loss of Rodrigues unless Gimenez has other plans. McCray is listed as “athlete” on the 2012 roster with senior Alex Yount and junior Shawn Hessler indicated as quarterbacks. McCray was the leading rusher for the JV Wildcats; his quarterback rating was 73, Rodrigues 121. On the volleyball court, Whitney could show the most improvement, although they were 22-14 overall and 9-6 in the Capital Athletic League. However, they had to go up against both El Camino and Rio Americano in conference play. El Camino’s Eagles were the eventual CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division II champions defeating Rocklin 3-0. The Thunder reached the championship match by beating Rio Americano 3-0 in the semifinals. Although Rocklin graduated captains Sierra Ueltzen, Katelyn Ivy, Cailyn Prewitt, and Erin Davis head coach Dave Muscarella has built a tremendous program along Victory Lane. According to Max Preps, Muscarella is 210-53-1 in eight seasons. That averages out to a 26-6 record each year. They’ve won four-straight SFL titles. The club with, perhaps, the steepest hill to climb is Lincoln. The Zebras’ are in the PVL where Placer, Colfax, and Bear River have dominated. Lincoln consistently averages around .500 on the season but hasn’t been able to break into the top three. The Falcons took the biggest hit from graduation losing eight, Placer lost seven. League champion Bear River exited four and the Zebras three. If Lincoln can get the athletes to turn out and put in the sweat equity, the club could make the playoffs this season. The playoffs will be decided by league standings this year and not power ratings; the top three are automatically in and teams with a .500 record or better also stand a chance of being invited.