Thunder to open league play Friday

Rocklin’s Cummings, Sorenson could return
By: Russ Edmondson The Placer Herald
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Three football teams will qualify for the playoffs from the Sierra Foothill League this season and the battle for the spots starts Friday. Rocklin High, which went 2-3 in the pre-league season, will open SFL play at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Woodcreek. Only league games count in terms of playoff positioning. “I like where we are,” Rocklin coach Greg Benzel said. “Nobody likes to lose but we’ve done our job – just preparing for league.” Rocklin junior receiver Holden Huff thinks Rocklin is ready for league play. “These last five games – we’ve had a really tough schedule and they’ve made us really tough as a team. And as individuals,” Huff said. “We’re a little disappointed but we’ll come hard and we’ll focus for league.” Woodcreek, which lost to Rocklin 48-13 a year ago, went 0-10 last year but is 2-3 so far this season. The Timberwolves were defeated by visiting Inderkum 30-17 Friday. They have also lost to Casa Roble and Del Campo and they have beaten Placer and Bear River. Star running back James Nunley ran 25 times for 156 yards and a touchdown against Inderkum while quarterback Tommy Murphy completed 4-of-17 passes for 30 yards. Rocklin, which fell to visiting Napa 40-23 Friday on its Homecoming night, hopes to get two of its star players back for Friday’s game. Rocklin junior running back/safety and kicker Jackson Cummings was in briefly on the opening series as a decoy and didn’t touch the ball against Napa as he was resting his groin. Cummings was also limited in Rocklin’s 12-7 victory over visiting Vintage a week earlier. “We have certainly missed Jackson,” Benzel said. “If he shows progress in rehab – we’ll get him out there. He won’t be at the level we want him to be but just his presence on the field will be big . . . He wants to play and he’s a complete team guy and it hurts him not being out there.” The other injured player is junior quarterback Tiger Sorenson, who hurt his left shoulder on the opening drive in a loss at Nevada Union on Sept. 18. Sorenson dressed for the game against Napa but didn’t play. “He hasn’t been totally cleared (to play yet),” Benzel said. “We hope to get him cleared this week and we’re excited about his progress.” Huff had a big night for the Thunder, catching a 33-yard touchdown pass from Jimmy Laughrea in the fourth quarter and also helping to block two punts in the first half. Huff and fellow junior Sean Moore both appeared to touch the ball on the first block, with Moore getting most of it and the ball bouncing out of the end zone for a safety to put Rocklin up 2-0. The second block, coming in the second quarter, was by Huff and Moore recovered the ball at the Napa 12-yard line. Rocklin then gave the ball back to Napa on a fumbled exchange on a running play. Huff also blocked two punts in the previous game against Vintage. “They are just blocking (me) inside and I’m running outside,” Huff said. After Rocklin’s safety two minutes into the game, Napa went ahead 3-2 with a field goal later in the first quarter. Laughrea, a sophomore, ran up the middle 14 yards for a touchdown to put Rocklin up 8-3 (extra point was no good) with about three minutes left in the half. Napa’s Logan Hess returned the ensuing kickoff to Rocklin’s 15, setting up a 15-yard touchdown run by Charles Boyett to put Napa up 9-8. After a Rocklin punt, Napa scored again on a 38-yard pass from Clinton Gorsuch to Brandon Washington to give the Indians a 16-8 lead at halftime. The Thunder tied the game at 16 with five minutes to go in the third quarter when Laughrea threw a seven-yard touchdown pass to senior Ben Holland. Laughrea completed a pass to junior Scott Polaske for the 2-point conversion. Napa then dominated the fourth quarter, outscoring the Thunder 24-7. The Indians took the lead with a field goal with 11:59 remaining in the game and four minutes later Boyett ran in from one-yard out to extend the lead. Gorsuch connected with Washington for another score (22 yards) midway through the fourth quarter to make it 33-16. Huff then caught a 33-yard touchdown pass from Laughrea to cut into the Napa lead but the Indians scored again (50-yard run by Hess) to make the final score 40-23. Huff finished with four catches for 68 yards while teammate Sky Mills had six catches for 58 yards. Laughrea completed 16-of-32 passes for 181 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He was very strong in the second half (10-18, 130 yards, two touchdowns, no turnovers) and at one point he completed eight passes in a row. His interception came on the last play of the first half. “We thought Jimmy did really well and he did a good job in terms of taking care of the ball,” Benzel said. “He’s showing a lot of positive things.” Junior Daniel Lessard (six carries, 30 yards) and senior Eric D’amico (nine carries, 27 yards) were Rocklin’s leading rushers against the physical Indians. Napa was led by Hess (20 carries, 135 yards, one touchdown), Boyett (16 carries, 104 yards, two touchdowns), Gorsuch (4-for-8 passing, 112 yards, two touchdowns) and Brandon Washington (four catches, 112 yards, two touchdowns). Junior Varsity Napa 29, Rocklin 28 Rocklin quarterback Charles Torretta ran in a one-yard touchdown to put his team up 28-21 with 2:09 remaining (he also ran in the 2-point conversion) but Napa had an answer. The Indians scored on a 15-yard run with 1:06 remaining and held on for the victory. The Thunder reached Napa’s 31-yard-line in the final minute but a 48-yard field-goal attempt by Bryan Wardlaw came up just short with 13 seconds remaining. Torretta also had another touchdown run in the game and he threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Nick Williams. Williams also returned a fumble (fumble was caused by Braston Carr) for a touchdown.