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SVC football title on the line Friday night

By: Matt Long Telegraph Sports Editor
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The game to decide the Sierra Valley Conference championship will be played Friday at Cosumnes Oaks and Vista del Lago will be there. The Eagles, who were co-champions of the league last year with Liberty Ranch and tri-champs in 2010 with River City and Union Mine, want it all to themselves this year and to do it they’ll have to beat the Wolfpack. Vista enters the game with a 4-0 conference record and is 7-1 overall, the only loss coming to Oak Ridge. The Wolfpack are 3-0 in the SVC and 6-1 overall and have lost to Franklin. “They’re a very good team and in a lot of ways are similar to us the way our schedules are set up,” Vista coach Chris Jones said. “They always have good athletes and we’ll have to play well on both sides of the ball to win. Defensively, they’re strength is their front seven. I think the key to the game will be taking care of the football.” The Eagles run a spread offense and like to pass the ball with Matt Jimison, who is having a spectacular sophomore season, completing 72 percent of his passes for 1,445 yards and 23 touchdowns against only three interceptions. Harry Kozlowski, Tyler Kaim and Brad Rittenhouse all have at least 20 catches, while Kaim, Rittenhouse and Chris Cooper have at least 400 receiving yards and five touchdowns. Cosumnes Oaks is a rushing team that only averages nine pass attempts per game. The Wolfpack feature Kaelin Willhite, one of five running backs who have gained at least 170 yards rushing this season. When they do pass, quarterback Alex Kropp (561 passing yards, 9 TD, 3 INT) looks most often for Alex Van Dyke, who has 17 catches for 225 yards and four touchdowns. Statistically speaking, the Eagles have better offensive numbers, passing for about 90 more yards per game and rushing for about 20 yards less, averaging 46 points per game; while Cosumnes Oaks averages 36 points per game. Defensively, however, the Wolfpack have only allowed 80 points in seven games, while the Eagles have allowed twice that amount in eight games. Cosumnes Oaks has yet to play Liberty Ranch and River City in the Sierra Valley Conference, while Vista has Union Mine in the season finale. While the Eagles are on the road, and likely considered the underdog because of that fact, they do have a bit of extra motivation. Last year the Wolfpack gave Vista its only loss in league play, 34-21. “The key for us is that we’re going to have to score touchdowns when we get in the red zone,” Jones said. “Last year we had to kick two field goals and in the end that was a determining factor in the game.” Vista steamrolls over Galt, 68-13 While it was the last regular season home game of the year, the Vista del Lago football team wanted to make sure that they went out on senior night in style. The Eagles sent the home crowd happy with a 68-13 pounding of the Galt Warriors at Prairie City Stadium. The Eagles scored 58 first-half points on just 23 plays from scrimmage. Six of their nine first-half drives took three plays or less to score. “We didn’t give up a whole lot, maybe one or two big plays all game. This game wasn’t necessarily for us a matter of winning or losing but how we went about it and I think we did a good job of that,” said Jones. Jimison completed 13-of-18 for 273 yards and six touchdowns—in the first half. He split up TD passes to Chris Cooper (2), Brad Rittenhouse (2), Colin McCargo and Dustin Boswell before getting a rest in the second half. “(Galt) was just giving us some deep balls and we were taking advantage of it. We were able to execute on getting guys the ball,” said Jimison. It didn’t take the Eagles long to deliver their first blows. Four plays into their first drive, Jimison led the racing Cooper down the left sideline for a 40-yard touchdown with 7:28 in the first. Cooper would later catch another 47-yard pass for a score late in the first. Later in the quarter, Vista forced a pair of turnovers that resulted in two touchdowns that spanned just four seconds apart to create a 20-point deficit for the Warriors. Nick Rametta recovered a Galt fumble at the Warrior 29-yard line and Jimison hit Rittenhouse on the next play for a touchdown. On the ensuing kickoff, no Galt player attempted to field the ball, leaving Vista an opportunity to recover it the Galt 11. Josh Pfeffer then took the first of his two touchdown runs in on a pitch from Jimison. “We wanted to throw the ball early. That was the game plan. We have guys who can run the ball and we can throw the ball,” said Jones. “We got a lot of different guys involved catching the ball tonight. I’m really pleased with how balanced we are. Any of our backs should feel like once they catch the ball, they can go with it.” All the Eagles’ scoring certainly kept kicker Anderz Mintz busy, connecting on eight extra points and a pair of field goals from 45 and 27 yards out. Vista (7-1, 4-0 SVC) has the opportunity to win the Sierra Valley Conference outright next week at Cosumnes Oaks. “That’s what we’ve been working towards,” Jones said. “It’s been something that’s been on our mind for a few years now. It should be fun.” JV Eagles 48, Warriors 0 The junior varsity Eagle squad came to play on Friday night, shutting out Galt with a score of 48-0. Vista’s defense turned in a monumental effort, forcing fumbles on the right while nabbing interceptions to the left. The 48-point drubbing was capped off by Garrett Hein’s interception return for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter. “Good win for us. We played a good four quarters. If we want to be the team that we know we can be, these are the teams that we have to beat,” said Vista head coach Dennis Valencia, whose team moves to 6-2 on the season with their eyes on Cosumnes Oaks next Friday night on the road. “Cosumnes is our big game of the year next week, so hopefully, we’ll have another great week of practice and the same results as tonight. We’re capable of playing and competing with anybody if we just believe in each other and tonight we did.” Nick Pecoraro contributed to this story.