Placer High FB History Highlights

Placer's Jared Halbert makes a move during 2015 game vs. Bear River. The Hillmen went 12-1 and were in Sac-Joaquin Section D3 semifinals. Photo:

Placer’s Jared Halbert makes a move during 2015 game vs. Bear River. The Hillmen went 12-1 and were in Sac-Joaquin Section D3 semifinals. Photo:

There’s a family connection between the school’s greatest era – in the 1970s – and the current teams that were 55-17 for the 2010s at the start of this season. It’s that 1970s local coaching icon Bill Miller is the grandfather of Placer’s current head coach, Joey Montoya. The Hillmen also may have an NFL player very soon.

Up next in this series: Grant (Sacramento). The Pacers pulled off probably the greatest victory in Sacramento area history when they beat Long Beach Poly in the 2008 CIF Open Division state final. But there’s more to this school’s long and storied history than just that one game. For more on the Cal-Hi Sports football archives project through the index card collection by legendary sports researcher Bruce McIntosh and how we can help your school, CLICK HERE. Note: One doesn’t have to be the football coach or AD to order this work. It can be presented to any school as a gift.


The decade of the 1970s is well known in CIF Sac-Joaquin Section football history as when Cordova of Rancho Cordova put together the best record in the nation at 102-6-1.

There was one stretch of that decade, however, in which another SJS school, Placer of Auburn, was just as dominant. Although the Hillmen have never competed at the large school level, they once won 43 of 44 games between 1974 and 1978 and won two SJS Division II titles in 1975 and 1977.

Eddie Vanderdoes of Placer played in U.S. Army All-American Game. He's now at UCLA. Photo:

Eddie Vanderdoes of Placer played in U.S. Army All-American Game. He’s now at UCLA. Photo:

Co-head coaches Bill Miller and Tom Johnson were credited for the turnaround since before they arrived there was a 13-year stretch in which Placer had not won a league title.

Miller was a head coach at Placer from 1972 and 1982 when the Hillmen finished a combined 93-15-1 with seven league titles. Placer’s 1977 and 1980 teams also are listed as Division III State Team of the Year in the Cal-Hi Sports State Record Book.

That unbeaten 1977 team won its section final with ease, rolling over Ponderosa of Shingle Springs 32-7. Placer’s closest game was a 28-23 victory over rival Nevada Union of Grass Valley. In 1980, the Hillmen crushed Ponderosa in the section final again (this time 35-8) and had one close game (a 21-20 win over Del Oro of Loomis).

After Miller and Johnson moved on, Placer had solid teams but never approached that previous level of dominance. That began to change in 2007 when Joey Montoya took over as head coach. Montoya helped the Hillmen reach the D4 section finals in both 2008 and 2009 and then in 2012 the boys were 11-0 until losing by one point in the section playoffs to Escalon. Placer also went 12-1 last season, but ran into Central Catholic of Modesto in the playoffs and lost 48-14.

Miller is now retired, but often comes out to games since Montoya is his grandson. Another of Miller’s grandsons, and brother of Joey Montoya, is Steve Montoya, the sports editor of the national high school sports website.

Placer fans also are excited these days about the NFL possibilities of current UCLA defensive tackle standout Eddie Vanderdoes. He was an all-state player for the Hillmen in 2011 and 2012 and is coming off of a knee injury that prevented him from coming out early for the 2016 NFL Draft. If he continues to have a strong season at UCLA, he’ll likely be a high draft pick next April.

Placer actually started out as Auburn High and played its first reported games in 1900 under that name. By the next season, the Placer name was being used.

Here are some other Placer football records that the school has been sent courtesy of this archive initiative:

Prior to 1930s: 11-12-3 (not including two losses by default)

1930s: 30-41-6 (not including one win by default, three losses by forfeit)

1940s: 36-46-4

1950s: 46-38-2

1960s: 32-53-6

1970s: 73-21-3

1980s: 58-40-1

1990s: 59-41-1

2000s: 52-56-1 (not including one win by forfeit)

2010s: 55-17-0


452 WINS, 365 LOSSES, 27 TIES*

(Based on half-win, half-loss for tie)

*Note: On-the-field totals only. With forfeits and defaults counted, adjusted records would be 11-14-3 for early years, 31-44-6 for 1930s and 53-56-1 for 2000s. All-time record also would adjust to 454-370-27.

Best Records For Single Season
11-0 – 1975
11-0 – 1977
11-0 – 1980
12-1 – 2015
11-1 – 2012
Not counting a 4-0 reported record for 1901.

Worst Records For Single Season
0-9 – 1948
0-9 – 1953
0-8 – 1956
0-8-1 – 1962
Not counting 0-3 reported record for 1907.

Records Against Notable Opponents
29-10-1 VS. El Dorado (Placerille)
14-8-1 VS. Grass Valley
8-4-0 VS. Colfax
10-6 VS. Bear River (Lake of the Pines)
20-21-1 VS. Nevada Union (Grass Valley)
32-35-6 VS. Roseville
*Notes: Grass Valley and Nevada City were separate high schools until the early 1950s when they consolidated to become Nevada Union. Grass Valley’s location north of Auburn on Highway 49 made it a natural rival. For many years, Placer’s rivalry game was against Roseville and was known as The Bell Game.

Most Points Scored (Single Game)
77 VS. Rio Americano (Sacramento) 2014
70 VS. Brookside Christian (Stockton) 2011
68 VS. Foothill (Sacramento) 2012
65 VS. South (Anchorage, AK) 2011
65 VS. Patterson 2015
63 VS. Casa Roble (Orangevale) 2012
62 VS. Lincoln 2010
61 VS. Mesa Verde (Citrus Heights) 2009
60 VS. Woodland 2011
59 VS. Hilmar 2012
58 VS. Woodland 2010
58 VS. Casa Roble (Orangevale) 2011
57 VS. Foothill (Sacramento) 2009
56 VS. Mesa Verde (Orangevale) 2000
56 VS. Foothill (Sacramento) 2011
56 VS. Foothill (Sacramento) 2013
56 VS. River Valley (Yuba City) 2015

Most Lopsided Wins
70-8 VS. Brookside Christian (Stockton) 2011
59-3 VS. Hilmar 2012
77-21 VS. Rio Americano (Sacramento) 2014
55-0 VS. Pioneer (Woodland) 2014
68-14 VS. Foothill (Sacramento) 2012
53-0 VS. Yuba City 1955
48-0 VS. Reno 1933
48-0 VS. Lincoln 1979
61-13 VS. Mesa Verde (Citrus Heights) 2009
47-0 VS. Nevada Union (Grass Valley) 1955
47-0 VS. Oakmont (Roseville) 1979

Most Points Allowed (Single Game)
62 VS. Vista del Lago (Folsom) 2014
62 VS. Rio Linda 2014
61 VS. Las Plumas (Oroville) 1962
61 VS. Modesto Christian (Modesto) 2009
61 VS. Casa Roble (Orangevale) 2011
60 VS. Oroville 1953
58 VS. San Juan (Fair Oaks) 1956
58 VS. Christian Brothers (Sacramento) 2013
57 VS. Yuba City 1953
55 VS. Sonora 1995
54 VS. McClatchy (Sacramento) 1949
53 VS. Oroville 1954
53 VS. Yuba City 1968
52 VS. Roseville 1945
52 VS. Patterson 2015
51 VS. Stockton 1938
51 VS. Yuba City 1966
51 VS. Del Oro (Loomis) 2001

Most Lopsided Losses
60-0 VS. Oroville 1953
57-0 VS. Yuba City 1953
54-0 VS. McClatchy (Sacramento) 1949
52-0 VS. Roseville 1945
58-6 VS. San Juan (Fair Oaks) 1956
51-0 VS. Stockton 1938
46-0 VS. Cordova (Rancho Cordova) 2003

Longest Winning Streaks
26 – 1976-1978 (won last seven, then 11-0 season, then first eight)*
17 – 1974-1976 (won last three, then 11-0 season, then first three)*
14 – 1980-1981 (went 11-0, then won first three)
12 – 2015 (won first 12, then lost)
Note: The Hillmen also had a 13-0-2 unbeaten streak from 1958 to 1960 that included the 7-0 undefeated team from 1959. There was a tie, three wins and then another tie before a loss in 1960.

Longest Losing Streaks*
14 – 2001-2002 (lost last seven, then first seven)
11 – 1961-1962 (lost last five, then first six)*
10 – 1953-1954 (went 0-9, then lost first game in 1954)
*Note: Losing streak ended with a tie, which was followed by four more losses in a row for an 0-15-1 winless streak. This list does not include an 0-12-3 winless streak in the cards from the early years and first three games of 1931.

Remember, any school in the state or a fan/supporter of any school in the state can have this research completed in a customized fashion in return for a reasonable fee. For details, CLICK HERE.

Stockton office assistant editor Paul Muyskens also contributed to this post and thanks of course to Bruce McIntosh. Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of He can be reached at Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports

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    Posted October 26, 2016 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

    Great article. Lots of memories and interesting info. Maybe the clearest indicator of the success of the Miller Johnson was the 7 season stretch 75-81 where the Hillmen went 70-5, won 6 SFL Championships in 75, 76, 77, 79, 80 and 81. 5 CIF Sac Joaquin Titles in 75, 76, 77, 80 and 81. And 2 State Champs as per Cal-Hi #1 ranking for AA schools in 77 and 80. I would be interested to know where those 5 CIF Title teams finished in the overall state rankings. Mark tennis, how could one go about getting that archival info?
    Scott Ditty
    Placer Hillmen 1979, 1980
    ps I played and roomed at Siearra College with two Cordova players and there were many late night arguments (and living room scrimmages) about who was more dominant. Great friends to this day.

    • Mark Tennis
      Posted October 27, 2016 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

      We didn’t start an overall state top 20 until 1991. Placer’s 1980 team was great, but probably wouldn’t have ahead of Vintage, Tracy or Cordova.
      Thanks for reading and responding.

  2. Thaddeus
    Posted September 9, 2018 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the history. Any chance we could get an update? We’ve got a significant fan base that would love to see it. Thank you in advance.


  3. Dirk Foehr
    Posted April 25, 2020 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    I’m curious if you have any stats on me? Yards per carry for when I played I was always getting yards but never heard my stats ? Thanks

    • Mark Tennis
      Posted April 25, 2020 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

      Sorry, don’t have those in our files.

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