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High school football

Twenty is make-or-break number

By: Cecil Conley, Sports Editor
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By Cecil Conley Sports Editor Rocklin High School’s football team has allowed just one opponent to score 20 or more points in a game this season. The 29-22 loss to Oak Ridge on Sept. 3 also happens to be the only setback for the Thunder in six games thus far. Roseville has been held to fewer than 20 points in just one game. The Tigers also happened to lose that night. Twenty could very well be the magic number Friday night when the Sierra Foothill League teams battle in Rocklin. Take away the Oak Ridge game and Rocklin’s defense has been stingy, yielding an average of 13.4 points a game. Twenty is also an important number for Whitney High’s football team. The Wildcats held an opponent below that total for the first time this season in last Friday’s 55-14 victory over Mira Loma of Sacramento. Whitney allowed an average of 42 points of its five nonleague games. Head coach Mike Gimenez stacked the deck against his team in the preseason to prepare the Wildcats for their Capital Athletic League debut. Gimenez believes Wildcats will not face a CAL quarterback as good as Rocklin’s Jimmy Laughrea or Concord’s Ricky Lloyd, the Southern Mississippi-bound senior who has throw for 1,711 yards and 22 touchdowns. “I told our kids we were going to play up. We’re going to play good teams,” Gimenez said. “We want to go out and challenge our kids. I like to win but win or lose, there’s a lot of good you can take from those games.” Whitney’s Jake Rodrigues has eclipsed the 1,00-yard passing mark like Lloyd and Laughrea (1,337). The junior has thrown for 1,169 yards and also rushed for 624 – including 204 against Christian Brothers on Sept. 24. Rodrigues is carrying the ball more often because the Wildcats are running an option attack. When opposing defenses take away the pitch to running back Shawn Azam, Rodrigues keeps the ball and takes off. “About half (of Rodrigues’ runs) are called and half are not,” Gimenez said. “He’s making good decisions.” Rodrigues did not play much in the second half last Friday after throwing for three touchdowns and running for two in the first half. Rodrigues twisted his ankle, and Gimenez played it safe with his team in control.