SWEET EMOTION: Del Oro football celebrates D2 finals appearance after 50-10 win over Antelope

By: Ike Dodson of the Auburn Journal
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LOOMIS — Coach Casey Taylor did a little dance as he entered the postgame huddle Friday night and his Del Oro football players let him hear it, whooping in jubilation of the Golden Eagles’ 50-10 shellacking of previously undefeated Antelope in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II semifinals.

After a brilliant performance by quarterback Stone Smartt and a tenacious effort by the Del Oro defense, players and coaches didn’t shy from celebrating the program’s second straight trip to the section finals and ninth SJS title appearance in 13 years.

“(Coach Taylor) definitely brings energy to our team and we love it,” Smartt said after completing 15 of 24 passes for 257 yards and two touchdowns. “We just feed off it.

“Now we got to bring (an SJS banner) back to Loomis.”

Del Oro will face the winner of today’s Jesuit-Inderkum game in the D2 finale next Friday at 7 p.m. at Sacramento State University. The winning team earns an automatic bid to compete in a NorCal state bowl game.

Smartt’s contributions were outlandish.

He kept Antelope wary of downfield passes and extended plays with constant attacks to the sideline. He also tucked the ball and ran eight times for 63 yards and three touchdowns. He was responsible for most of Del Oro’s 485 offensive yards.

Antelope trailed just 11-3 with two minutes remaining in the first quarter, but Smartt passed or ran for five straight scores and the Titans floundered in his wake.

“I felt a little more pep in my step,” Smartt admitted. “I was ready to ball coming in, and that’s what I have got to start doing more.

“It was definitely the team that helped me get ready too. It was a team effort and we all did it.”

Dalton Gee twice intercepted Antelope quarterback Nick Spagnola, scored the opening touchdown of the game and led Del Oro with 103 yards on 17 carries. Conor Calvert also booted field goals of 30 and 27 yards for the Golden Eagles.

Camrion Davis (130 offensive yards) busted the game open with an 82-yard catch-and-score from Smartt in the second quarter. Wyatt Craythorn caught a one-yard touchdown in the waning seconds of the first half.

Del Oro (11-2) dominated an Antelope (12-1) team that had outscored opponents 478-248 in prior games.

“We played a great team tonight, an undefeated team that has a good season,” Coach Taylor said. “We heard a lot of talk about how good their offense is, but I think our offense showed up tonight and got some things done.

“I was just happy with the overall effort. I thought we played a lot of physical football and I’m just real proud of our effort.”

Del Oro defensive linemen Israel Luna and Hunter Halverson landed two sacks apiece. Halverson played well despite the absence of his wrestling teammate Pablo Miller (injured) — they are both currently ranked top-5 in the state at 220 (Halverson) and 285 (Miller) pounds.

Halverson said his wrestling background helps in the trenches.

“Wrestling helps my footwork, knowing how to work other people’s positions,” Halverson said.  “I see what they are going to do, then try predicting it and countering it.”

Antelope star running back Elijah Dotson was held to 45 yards on 17 carries and averaged just over one yard per carry against the first-string DO defense. He did break loose for a 41-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter, but Del Oro kept him otherwise contained.