Rocklin to host Napa in final non-SFL game

Napa won Division I championship last year; Polaske stars in victory over Vintage
By: Russ Edmondson The Placer Herald
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Friday’s game against visiting Napa High is the final chance for Rocklin’s varsity football team to tune anything up before the start of Sierra Foothill League play. Napa (3-1), which won the Sac-Joaquin Section, Division 1 championship a year ago, beat visiting Casa Grande of Petaluma 28-10 last week after trailing 10-7 at the half. Napa has beat Vista del Lago (29-9) and Vallejo (39-19) but lost to Merced (31-17) so far. It returns nine starters from its championship team, including receiver Brandon Washington and linebackers Daniel Burgess and Michael Ruffino. Napa’s Charles Boyett (18 carries, 105 yards), Scott Dinov (six for 93) and Logan Hess (16 for 81) each starred on the ground against Casa Grande while quarterback Clinton Gorsuch was 4-of-7 passing for 83 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Rocklin and Napa will kickoff Friday at 7:30 p.m. “Napa is always well coached and very disciplined and the bottom line is we’ll have to play a lot better,” said Rocklin coach Greg Benzel, referring to his team’s 12-7 victory over visiting Vintage Friday night on a wet field. The game against Vintage was sloppy throughout, with many fans probably thinking there were more penalty flags than actual plays. The game also featured multiple turnovers by both sides and three blocked kicks by the Thunder (Holden Huff blocked two punts while Scott Polaske blocked a field goal). “We survived the night – it was a very ugly game,” said Rocklin coach Greg Benzel, pointing out that he didn’t want to use the muddy field as an excuse. “Tonight was ugly all the way around. “We were all extremely excited about the courage that our kids showed last week at Las Lomas (45-41 loss after trailing 21-0). It was amazing. And I felt better last week after a loss than I do tonight after a win.” Thunder junior Jackson Cummings, who stars at running back, safety and kicker, didn’t play at all in the first quarter and didn’t play on defense at all in the game because of a groin injury. He finished with eight carries for 36 yards and a two-yard touchdown to put Rocklin up 6-0 (his extra point was no good) with 3:18 remaining in the first half. Polaske, a junior, ended up playing in Cummings’ safety spot and he had a good night all around. He put a stop to a Vintage drive in the third quarter when he stripped the ball from Jacob Roscoe at Rocklin’s 20-yard-line and returned it to the 40 of Vintage. He also blocked a 28-yard field-goal attempt by Vintage near the end of the third quarter and caught six passes for 127 yards. “(I don’t) really like it,” said Polaske about the wet and rainy conditions. “As a receiver I just want to run down a clean field . . . I had to step in for Jackson on defense and we had to have some different people step up.” Rocklin went up 12-0 midway through the third quarter when junior Daniel Lessard ran up the middle for a two-yard touchdown. There was a mishap on the snap of the extra-point attempt. The Thunder defense then kept Vintage in check until the Crushers scored on a one-yard run by Jacob Roscoe with 32 seconds remaining in the game. The Thunder recovered the ensuing onside kick to seal the victory. Rocklin sophomore quarterback Jimmy Laughrea, filling in for injured junior Tiger Sorenson, was 12-for-19 passing for 229 yards. He also fumbled the ball away twice. “I think he did a nice job of throwing the ball, we really like his decision making . . . but we have to watch the film and figure out what’s happening on those snaps,” Benzel said. Junior Varsity Rocklin 14, Vintage 0 Billy John Roberts scored on runs of 45 and six yards for the Thunder.