comments

Placer football picked to don the PVL crown in 2016

By: Ike Dodson of the Auburn Journal
-A +A

Pioneer Valley League media poll

(first place votes)

Team                          points

Placer (7)                   50

Bear River (1)           41

Lincoln (1)                38

Center                         25

Colfax                         20

Foothill                        15

Participating media: The Auburn Journal, The Sacramento Bee, The Folsom Telegraph, The Roseville Press Tribune, The Colfax Record, KAHI radio, The Grass Valley Union, The Lincoln News Messenger

2015-16 Pioneer Valley League standings

Placer              5-0, 12-1

Bear River       2-3, 9-4

Lincoln            3-2, 6-5

Center             2-3, 6-5

Foothill            2-3, 3-7

Colfax             1-4, 3-7

The lore of Coach Joey Montoya’s Placer Hillmen isn’t diluted by a loss of returning starters.

A year after Placer swept the Pioneer Valley League and reached the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III semifinals, the Hillmen are pegged to again reign supreme in one of the foothill’s toughest football conferences.

Despite graduating the top performer at every offensive skill position and returning only three starters on defense, Placer’s four-time reigning PVL squad was given plenty of love in the 2016 media poll.

With nine members of the local sports media participating, Placer earned seven first-place votes and easily out-pointed projected PVL runner-up Bear River.

With 1-6 standing projections awarded 6-1 points, respectively, Placer nabbed 50 points in the PVL media poll, out of a possible 54.

Sports journalists from The Auburn Journal, The Sacramento Bee, The Folsom Telegraph, The Roseville Press Tribune, The Colfax Record, KAHI radio, The Grass Valley Union and The Lincoln News Messenger turned in picks.

Both Bear River (41 points) and projected third-place Lincoln (38) received a lone championship nod. Center (25), Colfax (20) and Foothill (15) followed in succession.

The poll reveals no shocking expectations, but most votes track the decline of Colfax, a former small school juggernaut in the section playoffs. Dwindling enrollment hasn’t helped, but media picks appeared to recognize a 7-13 league standing by the Falcons since their 11-1 PVL title season of 2011.

Colfax will see a new league schedule when the Sac-Joaquin Section adjusts for a 2018-19 realignment, but the Falcons have an uphill climb to make a PVL impact in 2016 or 2017.

Foothill and Center were mostly tabbed to finish in the bottom three, with Foothill receiving four last-place votes. The two schools are a bit of a mystery to most sports media, considering the programs compete beyond the scope of regular coverage for area news organizations and their coaches report little information to websites like maxpreps.com or calpreps.com.

Center lightened its schedule in 2016, dropping hard-nosed Vanden for Capital Athletic League cellar-dweller Rio Americano, so the Cougars may enter the league season with another sterling overall record. The squad was 4-1 in the 2015 preseason and is 15-5 in the preseason since 2012, sharing a league title with Placer in 2013. Center was tabbed to finish second by one reporter and third by another.

Bear River and Lincoln drew the tightest margin of any two teams with nearly-equal designation across the board. The Bruins are two-time returning section finalists and the 2014 section champs, but the squad graduated most of its line and lost one of its top returning skill players when Toran Maronic went down with a devastating head injury over the summer.

Lincoln was an offensive juggernaut last season, but the squad fell 49-7 to Placer and was bounced 82-32 by Inderkum in the opening round of playoffs. Quarterback sensation Eli Garcia is gone, along with his top targets, so the Zebras will lean heavily on senior running back Ryan Graham (2,188 all-purpose yards, 17 touchdowns in 2015).

Not at all swayed by the departure of an extremely talented senior class, top-ranked Placer looks to get the job done with sophomore quarterback Michael Stuck and a host of runners, including Mikey Ferreria, Morgan “Meatball” Robinson, Anthony Kerrigan, Mario Perez and Chase Laguna-Scott.

To change the minds of area soothsayers, PVL squads will have to contain Placer’s new weapons.

It won’t be easy.