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Stakes Get A Little Bigger For Eagles

Del Oro Hosts Whitney In Div. III Semi-final
By: Mike Ray, Gold Country News Services
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The stakes start getting a little bigger for the Del Oro Golden Eagles football team Friday night. Fresh off last Friday’s 41-12 second round CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Div. III playoff throttling of Placer, the Golden Eagles are setting their sights on a third consecutive trip to a CIF section championship game. But to get there, the Golden Eagles will have to weather another storm Friday night at Eagle Stadium when Capital Valley Conference champion Whitney of Rocklin calls on the Black and Gold in a 7 p.m. semi-final match-up. “Nothing changes, it’s another week and another big game,” said Del Oro coach Casey Taylor whose Golden Eagles rebounded from a slow start to outscore the visitors from Auburn, 34-0, in the decisive second half last Friday. Del Oro will take an 11-1 record into the game with Whitney (10-2). In an interesting game side-note, the Golden Eagle-Wildcat contest is a rematch from last season’s second round game won by the Golden Eagles, 26-9. Whitney, a 35-0 victor over Cosumnes Oaks last Friday night, will come into Eagle Stadium riding a seven game winning streak but will have to take on the Golden Eagles without standout run-pass quarterback threat Jake Rodrigues who suffered a season-ending leg injury in the second half of last week’s game. “Our preparation this week is kind of with the unknown,” said Taylor. We have no idea who Whitney will have in that quarterback spot.” Rodrigues, who has verbally committed to play at Oregon next season, was injured on a rather routine run for the Capital Athletic League Player of the Year when he tried to leap over a Cosumnes Oaks defender after a good gain. He landed awkwardly on his left leg and his knee gave way. “That’s what he does, he (was) doing what he does,” said Whitney coach Mike Gimenez, as he searched following the game for words to describe what Rodrigues meant to him, and the entire team. “He’s worked so hard to put our team into a situation, and then he’s not able to enjoy the fruits of his labor. I love him like a son, and it’s hard.” Without tipping his hand, Giminez noted that as many as three players including JV call-ups could line-up in Rodrigues’s spot. “We’ll go with what we got and do what we do,” said Giminez. “This team is a bunch of fighters. Del Oro is a great team but we’ll be there Friday.” The winner of Friday’s second seeded Del Oro versus No. 6 seed Whitney game will advance to take on the Oakdale-Casa Roble semi-final winner either next Friday or Saturday in the Div. III championship game at Sacramento State. The CIF will announce the game date on its website (www.cifsjs.org) either Friday evening or Saturday morning.