Prep Roundup

Whitney Looms Again In PVL Grid Favorite Role

Calpreps tabs 'Cats ahead of Hillmen, BR
By: Mike Ray, Gold Country News Services
-A +A
A year ago Mike Gimenez and his Whitney Wildcats were in the catbird seat of the Pioneer Valley League football chase. Fresh off of a runner-up finish in the 2007 CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Div. IV playoffs, the Wildcats were the odds on favorite to win last season’s PVL title according to the pre-season preview Ned Freeman’s high school sports website released. And, in the 2008 season, the four-year-old Rocklin school didn’t disappoint. Led by a depth-laden senior group anchored by do-everything tailback Zach Graves who accounted for an astonishing 2,783 yards rushing and tallied 44 touchdowns, the Wildcats rolled through the regular season with a perfect 10-0 record. On its way to winning their second straight PVL crown, the Wildcats made it look easy has the Colfax Falcons were the lone league opponent (34-27) to hang within two touchdowns of the Wildcats. Once in the post season, the Whitney onslaught continued as Foothill (42-14), Sierra (51-28) and Placer (35-14) fell in the wake of the ‘Cats perfect 13-0 campaign. Now, one year later, despite losing a ton of talent to graduation, Freeman’s preview for the upcoming season likes Whitney to win its third straight grid crown before realignment sends the Wildcats to the Capital Athletic League in 2010. “I think a lot of previews and especially the ones that calpreps does are based on what a team has done the previous year,” said Whitney coach Mike Gimenez. “Sometimes too much emphasis is put on what a JV team did the year before and how many guys are back,” said Gimenez. “I’m honored but I’d say that Placer and Bear River will be the ones we’ll be chasing.” Freeman, a self-described “sports fanatic”, unveiled his 2009 state football previews on his website last week for every league and school in California. The website is famous for it’s bevy of statistics which cover every bit of the high school football playbook from A to Z. Freeman again has included among his rankings such important facts has dynasty ratings, national ranks, state ranks, rating comparisons and starting power ratings. He also enjoys projecting a team’s record for the upcoming season, it’s final power rating and a percentage ranking of what chance the team has of going undefeated for that season. He even projects opening game results. For instance, rated the 2008 Placer Hillmen has the No. 242 ranked team in the state regardless of division. In 2009, calpreps have the Hillmen No. 3 for the Div. IV Sac-Joaquin section rankings for playoffs behind Whitney and Oakdale. In fact, four PVL teams including Bear River (No.5) and Colfax (No. 10) are ranked in the top ten by Freeman in the section’s Div. IV playoff rankings. Freeman, a resident of the Bay Area, is so in-tune with high school sports across the country that mega high school web giant MaxPreps, a division of CBS Sports, uses Freeman to gather all of their schedules and previews for this football season. “I’ve always liked the number crunching aspect of what we do,” said Freeman,before last season's preview was released. Freeman attended school at Drake in Marin County and college at UC Santa Barbara. In this year’s PVL preview, Freeman has Whitney again projected as the top team in the league followed by Placer, Bear River, Colfax, Mesa Verde, Lincoln and El Dorado. Three key points that Freeman factors in when doing his projections are : How many returning starters does a team have? Is the team’s top quarterback and running back returning? What was the success of the program’s JV squad from the previous year ? Placer coach Joey Montoya has listed on his team’s preview that the Hillmen return five starters on offense and defense with top players cited as running back-defensive back Ashmer Gotzmer, defensive end Michael Gray and tight end-linebacker Josh Klem. Freeman predicts Placer to win its opening game over Rosemont, 37-18. Bear River, meanwhile, is picked third in the league with top players listed as running back-safety Johnny Jewett, running back-linebacker Cole White and tackle Garret Davis, a 6-3 275-pounder. Bear River is picked to defeat Capital Christian in its opener 36-24 while Colfax is a 21-17 pick over Center. Colfax’s top returning players include running back Pat Rawlins, receiver Keith Russell and lineman Adam Pugh. Mesa Verde is picked 5th in the preview while El Dorado is slated by Freeman for 6th and Lincoln 7th. Lincoln will have two of the league’s larger players in the form of J.J. Castillo, a 6-4 265-pound tight end-defensive end and Jacob Tryon, a 6-4 295-pound nose guard. PVL Picks 1. Whitney 2. Placer 3. Bear River 4. Colfax 5. Mesa Verde 6. El Dorado 7. Lincoln