With the new teams joining the Sierra Foothill and Capital Athletic leagues this season, there are a lot of great matchups on this year’s football schedule.
Grant and Whitney join the Sierra Foothill League, while the league’s least successful teams, Woodcreek and Nevada Union, have found other homes. Casa Roble and Mira Loma, annually the weakest team in the Capital Athlete League, are out, while the Sac-Joaquin Section voted to bring in three champions from others leagues: Capital Christian, Sacramento High and Del Campo.
Throw in the usual tough non-league opponents and it makes for an interesting 2018 season. Below the top games each week are highlighted.
Week 0 – Aug. 17 – Folsom at De La Salle – Folsom played the Northern California powerhouse in 2012 and 2013 and were soundly defeated. Perhaps this year more than any other, Folsom feels it has a chance to knock off the Spartans, a team that hasn’t lost a game to a Nor-Cal team since 1991 with an unbeaten streak against teams north of Fresno of 289 games. With 13 starters returning off a 16-0 state title-winning team, Folsom has as good of chance as any team to do it. Other games: Cordova at Vista – These teams met twice a year ago, Vista winning both times, including in the opening round of the playoffs. Oak Ridge at Lincoln – The Trojans replace Vista del Lago on their schedule with the Fighting Zebras, who won eight games a year ago.
Week 1 – Aug. 24 – Jesuit at Folsom – These teams met twice a year ago with Folsom winning big during the regular season, and then narrowing beating the Marauders in the semifinals of the Division I playoffs, 27-14. The Marauders will be itching to turn the tables this year and could benefit mentally if Folsom is riding high after a win over De La Salle or is discouraged after a loss. Other games: Vacaville at Oak Ridge - These teams played one of more exciting games a year ago with the Trojans coming out on top 24-23. Another close game could be in store for this season. Vista at Ponderosa - Seemingly a high-scoring, exciting game every year, Vista won last year’s home opener at their new stadium, 50-28.
Week 2 – Aug. 31 – Oak Ridge at Reed – For those who don’t mind traveling, this game will be played in Sparks, Nevada. Reed is annually one of the top teams in Nevada and for the first time in four attempts, the Trojans defeated their counterparts last season, 24-21. Other games: Casa Roble at Vista – The Eagles keep the Rams on the schedule after they were removed from the Capital Athletic League. Vista won last year’s game easily, 25-6. Antelope at Folsom – A new opponent for the Bulldogs, the Titans won 10 games a year ago, losing only to 12-1 Del Campo and then to 12-3 Granite Bay in the second round of the Division II playoffs.
Week 3 – Sept. 7 – Folsom at Chaminade – I suspect there won’t be many locals traveling to Southern California to watch this game, but this could be a good game given Chaminade’s pedigree. They went 9-2 last year with one loss to perennial power St. John Bosco, 31-17. Folsom wouldn’t schedule a game that far away if it didn’t think it would be competitive. Other games: Vista at Placer – This game is a lot closer to Folsom and has proven to be a high-scoring, competitive game over the years. Placer won last year’s game, 43-28. Oak Ridge has a bye this week.
Week 4 – Sept. 14 – Oak Ridge at Folsom – For the first time in several years, this game is not the regular-season finale, and instead opens up SFL-play. Nevertheless, when these two rivals meet, it’s a spirited match-up full of emotion. Folsom won last year’s game, 42-28. Other games: Vista at El Camino – The Eagles open Capital Athletic League play on the road against a team it dominated a year ago, 50-13.
Week 5 – Sept. 21 – Del Campo at Vista – The Eagles’ Capital Athletic League home opener is against one of the new teams. Last year, Del Campo won 12 straight games before losing to Granite Bay in the Division II semifinals. This will be a great challenge for the Eagles. Other games: Rocklin at Oak Ridge – Rocklin was a solid team a year ago and played the Trojans tough before losing, 27-10. Folsom has a bye.
Week 6 – Sept. 28 – Grant at Oak Ridge – The Sierra Foothill League gets tougher and more interesting with the addition of the Pacers. After losing to the Pacer in six straight seasons from 2004-2009, Oak Ridge has won the last two meetings in 2012 and 2013. This should be an interesting game. Other games: Vista at Rio Americano - The Raiders were an improved team last year and still lost to the Eagles, 43-21. If they continue on the same path this year, this game could be even closer. Folsom at Rocklin – Folsom dominated the Thunder a year ago, 46-3.
Week 7 – Oct. 5 – Oak Ridge at Del Oro – After two close wins in 2015 and 2016, Oak Ridge easily handled the Golden Eagles a year ago, 32-14. You can be sure Del Oro is looking to get back in the win column this year, especially on their home field. Other games: Whitney at Folsom – Folsom will welcome the Wildcats to Prairie City Stadium and will be looking to show the SFL newcomers who the team to beat is. Whitney is coming off a 5-5 season a year ago. Vista has a bye.
Week 8 – Oct. 12 – Granite Bay at Folsom – Other than Oak Ridge, no SFL team played Folsom closer last year than the Grizzlies, who still lost by 21 points. Granite Bay should be in the hunt in the SFL, so this game could be closer than you think. Other games: Christian Brothers at Vista – The Capital Athletic League has been won by one of these teams in each of the last four seasons; the Eagles in 2014 and 2015 and the Falcons in 2016 and 2017. With the addition of Del Campo, Sacramento and Capital Christian, there could be a new champion, but these two have always played each other tough. The Falcons won a year ago, 38-31. Oak Ridge at Whitney – With a new coaching staff at Whitney this season, which includes Ben Sweet and Kevin Lopina, who coached at Oak Ridge last year, this is a game you can be sure Whitney is looking forward to.
Week 9 – Oct. 19 - Granite Bay at Oak Ridge – Last year’s game between these two teams was one of the best games of the SFL season, a 14-7 Oak Ridge victory in overtime. The Grizzlies would love nothing more than to return the favor on Oak Ridge’s home field this year. Other games: Folsom at Grant – Folsom will be the favorite going into this game, but traveling to Grant could make this game more interesting. Vista at Sacramento on Oct. 20 (at Rosemont High School) – Vista plays the Dragons for the first time at a neutral site on a Saturday night.
Week 10 – Oct. 26 – Folsom at Del Oro – Folsom wraps up the regular season at one of the tougher places to play in the area. The Golden Eagles are still searching for their first win over Folsom in SFL play. Last year, Folsom won 54-10. Other games: Capital Christian at Vista – After playing Del Campo and Christian Brothers at home, Vista has another tough home game against Capital Christian to end the regular season. Elk Grove at Oak Ridge - The Trojans finish the regular season with a non-league home game against always-tough Elk Grove. The last time these teams met in 2015, Elk Grove won 30-18 in the Division I playoffs semifinals.