Seniors' days are numbered in football

By: Cecil Conley, Sports Editor
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Friday night is the beginning of the end for Jimmy Laughrea and Brant Wright. Their football careers at Rocklin and Whitney high schools, respectively, will conclude one way or another in the next six weeks. The Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs generate a sense of urgency for seniors on both teams because the clock is ticking. Their days of playing for the Thunder and Wildcats are numbered, with Friday being the first Road trips await both teams in the first round. Rocklin will travel to West Sacramento to battle River City in the Division II playoffs, and Whitney will battle Pioneer in Woodland in a Division III opener. Laughrea has his own tough act to follow. The talented quarterback led Rocklin to the Division II state championship game last season, but a broken left forearm kept him on the sideline in the 33-30 loss to Servite. River City (9-1) is the first obstacle for head coach Greg Benzel?s team in its bid to win a section title for the second consecutive year. Rocklin entered the 2009 playoffs as the No. 2 seed with a 10-0 record. Rocklin is 7-3 and seeded 10th this season, so the Thunder will not have the luxury of a home game in the postseason. That could actually turn out to be an advantage because Rocklin is 6-0 on the road this season. A victory Friday would send the Thunder to Sacramento to face No. 2 Grant on Nov. 19 if the 10-0 Pacers can get past No. 15 Will C. Wood of Vacaville in the first round. Grant and Rocklin met in the section semifinals last year, and the Thunder pulled out a 21-19 win as Laughrea passed for 253 yards and two touchdowns. Laughrea has thrown for 2,367 yards and 21 touchdowns as a senior. For Whitney head coach Mike Gimenez, Friday?s trip to Pioneer will be a homecoming of sorts. Gimenez was a superb quarterback at Woodland High and then returned to the school as the Wolves head coach. The Wildcats could have avoided the trip by defeating Antelope last Friday in a showdown for the Capital Athletic League championship. The 28-19 loss left Whitney as the No. 14 seed in the Division III playoffs. Whitney (6-4) is 3-2 on the road this season. Including a 48-19 loss at Rocklin in the teams? first meeting Sept. 10. The Wildcats allowed an average of 42 points per game in their five nonleague contests. For Whitney to do anything in the postseason, Wright and his defensive mates will have to rise to the occasion. That should not be a problem for Wright, the linebacker whom Gimenez said ?has played at a real high level for the last month.? Wright was awarded the black lunch box by the coaches for his efforts against Antelope. Wright can now put it to use by packing a meal for the trip to Pioneer.