Placer's exceptional football season ends in Modesto after 48-14 defeat to Central Catholic

By: Ike Dodson of the Auburn Journal
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Week 3 playoff football scores

Division I

Folsom 56, St. Mary’s 49

Elk Grove 30, Oak Ridge 18

Division II

Del Oro 25, Granite Bay 17

Rocklin 55, Antelope 35

Division III

Central Catholic 48, Placer 14

Oakdale 51, Inderkum 38

Division IV

Championship/Saturday, Nov. 28 at Elk Grove HS

#4 Liberty Ranch vs. #3 Sierra, 6 p.m.

Division V

Championship/Saturday, Nov. 28 at Elk Grove HS

#6 Bear River vs. #1 Sonora, 1 p.m.

Division VI

Championship/Saturday, Nov. 28 at Lincoln-S HS

#2 Bradshaw Christian vs. #1 Hilmar, 6 p.m.

Division VII

Championship/Saturday, Nov. 28 at Lincoln-S HS

CCAA #2 Big Valley Christian vs. CCAA #1 Stone Ridge Christian, 1 p.m.

MODESTO — There’s always a bigger fish.

The Placer High football team that trampled regular season foes and triumphed in back-to-back Sac-Joaquin Section playoff shootouts ran into a whale of a No. 1 seed Friday, falling 48-14 to Central Catholic in the semifinal round of the D3 postseason.

The Placer defense recovered two fumbles and Hillmen linebacker Taylor Levesque intercepted Central Catholic quarterback Hunter Petlansky, but the host Raiders punted just once and ran 42 times for 468 yards.

Fresno State-bound running back Justin Rice set a Central Catholic school record for first-half rushing yards (250) and ended the contest with 22 rushes for 300 yards and five touchdowns.

Rice had more yards than the entire Hillmen offense. Placer’s dynamic trio of backs, Owen Scott (12 rushes, 12 yards), Jared Halbert (8-17) and Waylen Cozad (6-15) could not penetrate the second level of Central Catholic’s defense. The Placer squad that went 12-0 on the heels of a tenacious rushing attack managed just 44 rushing yards on 37 attempts.

“I’m very proud of our group, but obviously we’re disappointed it ended early,” Placer coach Joey Montoya said. “We felt like we didn’t really display our level of team tonight.

“I love this group, am proud of the coaches, proud of the team and happy our community was able to experience it with us. We had great support all year long and we’re going to miss these guys.”

Placer trailed 21-0 in the first quarter, but rallied to score after the lone CC punt when Joe Robinson caught a short out from Marcus Ante, stiff-armed a defender and bolted 30 yards for a touchdown.

Central would score 27 unanswered points, including an 18-yard Petlansky pass to Sam Nichols in the final moments of the fourth-quarter running clock.

Ante (4 for 10, 157 yards, two touchdowns, interception) responded with an 85-yard touchdown pass to Derek Haney (two catches, 106 yards) on the final snap.

Central Catholic (13-0) will play Oakdale (12-1) next week in the D3 title game.

Placer ends the year with a 12-1 mark, but the PVL champions would have been a shoe-in for the D4 title had things turned out slightly different in the final week. Wins and losses by other teams in the section forced the Hillmen (D3/D4 enrollment bubble-team) up into D3 and ultimately paved the way for a No. 5 postseason seed.

Placer proved they deserved to be seeded better by ousting Patterson 65-52 a week prior, but didn’t have the defensive stops required of a D3 section finalist.

Central set the tone early when Rice took the first Raiders’ play from scrimmage 64 yards to pay dirt.

“We designed that play, and all week I told them it was a touchdown if we executed,” Central Catholic coach Roger Canepa said. “We knew (Placer) had been giving up points and we have run the ball on everybody, so our thing was control the tempo and we did.”

Placer did land a few blows in the trenches. The best lineman on the field, Placer’s Oregon-bound Jacob Capra, drove Raiders into the backfield and even buried one of Central Catholic’s best players, hulking linebacker Kekupaa Freehauf, into the grass 10 yards down field.

“I don’t care how talented you are, I’m fighting for the person on my left and right,” Capra said afterward. “There wasn’t juniors and seniors (on this team), there was just a family of brothers.

“It’s not like you are ending a sport, you are ending a relationship with people. We will stick together and stay in contact, but it’s a rough one.”

Capra said the preparation for his career at Oregon begins Monday.

“I’ll be lifting, conditioning, and obviously I have to finish my high school career, get good grades and end strong,” Capra said.

The journey continues.