Facing a team noted for its passing attack, it’s host Rocklin that goes to the air to beat Sacramento and improve to 4-0. The Thunder also seem squarely in the mix in the race probably to finish second to Folsom in loaded Sierra Foothill League.
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It was understandable in preseason prognostications why the Rocklin High football team wasn’t mentioned in the same breath as other contenders in the realigned – and even more powerful – Sierra Foothill League.
Folsom, coming over from the Delta River League, had 14 returning starters and a state record setting quarterback; Del Oro of Loomis was in last year’s CIF Division I state bowl game; Granite Bay was welcoming back legendary head coach Ernie Cooper; and Oak Ridge of El Dorado Hills (also coming in from the Delta River) was a section finalist last year with a sophomore quarterback.After four weeks, however, including Friday’s night’s surprisingly easy 47-6 win over Sacramento, Rocklin without question looks like a team to be reckoned with. Sure, Folsom so far is looking like it’s one of the best teams in CIF Sac-Joaquin Section history but behind the Bulldogs it could be a wide open chase. Even Nevada Union of Grass Valley (0-10 last year but 3-1 so far this season) and Woodcreek of Roseville (also 4-0 after Friday) are going to have to be dealt with.
“At the beginning of the season, it bothered us that we were not considered one of the top teams in the league,” said Rocklin senior quarterback Max O’Rourke. “But we’re now beginning to prove we are one of the top teams in one of the top leagues in the state and that’s exciting.”
It was expected to perhaps be an exciting game Friday at home for Rocklin against the Dragons. They also were 3-0 and have been ranked among the top 10 in the Cal-Hi Sports Division II North bowl game rankings. Sacramento and its passing game, however, led by junior standout Caden Voges, wasn’t up to the higher level presented by the Thunder.
In fact, O’Rourke was the one with the stellar passing totals. The senior who backed up Logan Webb last year (yes, the same Webb who was a high MLB draft choice last spring by the San Francisco Giants) completed unofficial totals of 15 passes in 25 attempts for 305 yards and five touchdowns.
O’Rourke tossed three of his scoring passes to fellow senior Blake Laurin from 6, 30 and 48 yards out. He also had a seven-yard TD to Brady Mays, a 30-yard TD to sophomore Trey Overton and had a 31-yard run that kept a drive going.
With 2013 standout Evyn Holtz still not playing, Rocklin’s running game also remained effective. Senior Riley Clark scored the first touchdown on a three-yard run.
The team’s final touchdown came on a 24-yard TD pass from backup quarterback William Floyd to backup receiver Ryan Wojciechowski late in the third quarter. A running clock was used in the fourth quarter.
Voges’ only scoring pass came after the Dragons already were trailing 21-0 on a 20-yard play to Elton Myers. He unofficially went 20 of 38 for 277 yards and had three interceptions. Two other completions resulted in turnovers when the ball came loose on fumbles after the catch.
Sacramento actually seemed to gain its only momentum of the game after linebacker-fullback Lonny Powell (a Cal commit) was bent backwards on a running play on the second to last play of the first quarter and appeared to injure his right knee. He needed assistance to come off the field and did not return.
The Dragons scored their only touchdown later in that drive, then got the ball back and were threatening to cut Rocklin’s 21-7 lead down to 21-14. That series, however, ended on the first of Voges’ interceptions by Gage Sorenson. Rocklin then scored again on O’Rourke’s TD pass to Overton and scored again just before halftime on O’Rourke’s second TD pass to Laurin.
“We knew they had some amazing athletes and we just keyed on those guys,” said O’Rourke, who is perhaps an even better kicker than he is a quarterback. “The biggest thing is that we just worked our tails off on both offense and defense.”