Rocklin, the No. 2 seed in DII playoffs, opens with Elk Grove

By: Russ Edmondson The Placer Herald
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The Rocklin High Thunder are the No. 2 seed in the Sac-Joaquin Section, Division II football playoffs that begin Friday night. The Thunder, who went 10-0 in the regular season, will host No. 15 Elk Grove at 7 p.m. Friday. The Thundering Herd are 4-6 overall and went 3-2 in the Delta Valley League. Elk Grove beat Laguna Creek (37-16), Davis (41-24) and Valley (49-0) and lost to Franklin of Elk Grove (30-15) and Nevada Union (35-14) in league play. It topped Chavez of Stockton (37-6) in non-league action but lost to Monterey Trail (27-0), Sheldon (36-19), Pleasant Grove (24-10) and Vacaville (49-7). Elk Grove spreads the ball around in the backfield as four players have at least 60 carries this year. Sophomore Deon Ransom (98 carries, 655 yards, nine touchdowns) and seniors Russell Robards (108-734, seven touchdowns), Daniel Rondez (100-579, four touchdowns) and Jesse Feliciano (60-328, two touchdowns) have all had some success on the ground for the Thundering Herd. “Elk Grove is a good football team,” Rocklin coach Greg Benzel said. “They run the ball well and they do a good job stopping the run. (They are) very physical up front.” The top targets for Elk Grove senior quarterback Alex Angell (93-for-118, 973 yards, six touchdowns, seven interceptions) are Chase Zamora (20 catches, 303 yards, three touchdowns) and Gabriel Vazquez (29-444, three touchdowns). “Our guys are ready (for the playoffs),” Benzel said. “This season as a whole we’ve had big games and big situations and we’ve battled and responded.” Rocklin senior defensive back Andrew McEwan says Rocklin’s 14-7 win over Granite Bay on Oct. 23 sticks out the most from the regular season. “That is No. 1 for me – the way our defense had to play against them,” McEwan said. “I think that was the most important win of the year for us . . . We’re ready (for the playoffs). It was a tough season last year but it’s our time now.” The winner of Friday’s game will play either No. 7 Stagg (8-2) or No. 10 Atwater (7-3) on Nov. 27. If it survives the playoff opener, Rocklin will host that second-round game. The DII semifinals will be played the following week. If that semifinal match-up is between Rocklin and undefeated No. 3 Grant, the section got both head coaches to agree to play the game on a neutral field that is yet to be determined. Grant, the top-ranked team in Northern California, has won 24 consecutive games. Rocklin was seeded higher in the DII bracket because it had a tougher schedule this season.