Oak Ridge coach Eric Cavaliere’s Trojans went 11-2 this season, with wins over Granite Bay and Del Oro and losses to Folsom and St. Mary’s. Brian Baer Special to The Bee
Oak Ridge coach Eric Cavaliere’s Trojans went 11-2 this season, with wins over Granite Bay and Del Oro and losses to Folsom and St. Mary’s. Brian Baer Special to The Bee

Joe Davidson

A unique perspective on sports in the Sacramento region, from high schools to the pros

Joe Davidson

Best plan to win a section title Saturday? Coach who faced all the contenders has ideas

By Joe Davidson


December 01, 2017 03:55 AM

If there is any one who knows the four teams competing for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I and II football championships, the tendencies and strengths and potential weaknesses, it’s Eric Cavaliere.

He is the longtime Oak Ridge coach who can speak of the joy and frustration of facing these programs. The Trojans went 11-2 this season.

In Sierra Foothill League play, Oak Ridge defeated Granite Bay 14-7 in overtime and Del Oro 32-14. Oak Ridge fell to Folsom in Week 10 for the league title, 42-28. In a Division I semifinal last week, St. Mary’s eliminated Oak Ridge 38-31.

Cavaliere broke down the title matchups for The Bee beyond the need for teams to block and tackle. Folsom plays St. Mary’s of Stockton at 1:45 p.m. at Sacramento State and Del Oro takes on Granite Bay at 7:45 p.m. at Sac State.

Division I: Folsom (13-0) vs. St Mary’s (11-2)

Cavaliere: “St. Mary’s must stop the big play from ‘The Reno Express’ (Joe Ngata, Daniyel Ngata, Kaiden Bennett). If the Rams can contain these players and force Folsom to beat them another way, THAT is the key.

“The dilemma for St. Mary’s is how to line up to Folsom’s ‘empty’ formations. It is very difficult to match up to this formation – finding a way to double-team receiver Joe Ngata and still be able to contain Bennett as a running quarterback. Do you double Ngata and only leave five players in the box to contain Bennett (with the best five offensive linemen we saw all year in front of him?), or do you leave single coverage on Ngata and use an extra player to contain Bennett? And by the way, Folsom has plenty of other targets as well that HAVE to be covered or you pay a big price.

“St. Mary’s needs to control the time of possession. Its strongest weapon is the run game with Dusty Frampton. If the Rams can grind on Folsom’s defense with Frampton and their quarterback run game, they will move the ball, keep the ball out of Folsom’s hands, and can wear down a defense, which always pays off in the end.

“St. Mary’s will need to stay out of passing situations. If Folsom can play heavy to the run on 1st and 2nd down and force passing situations, St. Mary’s will be in for a tough night (and that can be said about any team). St. Mary’s is also very effective from its ‘empty’ formation with Frampton as a wildcat QB. Folsom will need to focus on the run game here and worry about them throwing the ball from this set until St. Mary’s is able to show the ability to do so.”

Final thought: “Both coaching staffs do an excellent job of putting their best players in position to make plays. They will be prepared on all ends for this game. Folsom’s advantage will be in its numbers – it is very difficult to match up with the number of athletes the Bulldogs put on the field. For St. Mary’s, the Rams will do a great job of utilizing their best weapon, Dusty Frampton. He is TOUGH and can wear an opposing team down.”

Division II: Granite Bay (11-2) vs. Del Oro (8-5)

Cavaliere: “Both teams run the ball very well, and the team that is able to have the most success in the passing game will have the advantage. Del Oro must align properly to Granite Bay’s formations to stop the run. Granite Bay does a good job of getting numbers to the point of attack and finding the soft spot on defenses that do not align properly. Del Oro is a team that does stop the run very well, a team strength. The Golden Eagles must win first down and force Granite Bay into throwing situations.

“Possibly the biggest advantage that Granite Bay will have is with its defensive line. The Grizzlies are very strong here, and if they can get Del Oro into throwing situations, this group should be able to get to their quarterback and force incompletions or get sacks.”

Final thought: “This is a huge rivalry game, and as we know, anything can happen in these games. Del Oro has a ton of experience in big games, and Granite Bay expected to be in this game from the beginning of the season. There will be plenty of emotion for this game. It will not have to come from the coaches. The coaching staff that is able to keep their players playing and think about the next play will have the tactical advantage.”

Joe Davidson: 916-321-1280, @SacBee_JoeD