Time to strap it on

By: Jim Linsdau/News Messenger/Placer Herald Sports Editor
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It was opening week for some area high school football teams, while others will begin gridiron acting this weekend. The Capital Football (Athletic) League made an excellent showing with four of its six teams posting victories this past Friday. Whitney High may have picked up where they left off last season and be headed for another league championship. However, the road has gotten a little steeper. The Sierra Foothill League opened with a bit of a thud losing five of its six openers. Only Nevada Union came away a winner knocking off Reno’s McQueen High School 27-10. The Miners were ranked No. 3 in the Sacramento Bee’s preseason poll. The Pioneer Valley League held off until Aug. 31, for the most part. However, Foothill and Colfax started early inviting Oakmont and Argonaut, respectively, to help open their seasons. Their opponents also helped themselves to a couple of victories getting the Mustangs and Falcons off to a slow start. Lincoln will entertain Natomas this Friday at the Edward Alexander Grey Sports Complex (Lincoln High stadium). The Fighting Zebras dismantled the Nighthawks 33-7 in Natomas last year so opening-night winning fever is running high in the land o’ Lincoln. Whitney head coach Michael Gimenez said the CAL would be much improved this season and it appears he made a good call. He also felt the Wildcats would hold their own, as well, despite the departure of some college-bound talent from last year. The ‘Cats’ 48-12 victory over Vintage doesn’t really tell the story of how dominating Whitney was in that game. However, El Camino scored 49 on its way to a shutout over Union Mine. In fact, if one throws out the two losses last week, the CAL outscored their opponents 158-26. And Rio Americano only lost by eight to No. 17 Casa Roble. The typically dominant SFL was anything but this past week. Note, Rocklin stayed with No. 6-ranked Pleasant Grove for three quarters before falling 35-21. Take out that game and NU’s, and the scoring margin for the SFL was 176-41 – against! Admittedly, the league opened against some heavyweights but the SFL has been bumped up to Division I (Division II for Del Oro) for the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Playoffs. It’s the kind of music they will have to face when all is said and done. Both Del Oro and Granite Bay, last year’s Division I and III champions, participated in the Battle for Veterans last week and didn’t fare particularly well. This week, they get to trade opponents and take a long road trip to Southern California to do it again. Of course, it’s early and some teams are yet play their first game. And, a number of those that got thumped this past week will bounce back and contend for their league titles in spite of early setbacks. The road to the playoffs is a long one and the variables between winning and losing are as numerous as all the statistical numbers combined. The time to strap up is here.