Placer junior Louis Fudge evades the Crenshaw defense during the CIF State Division IV-AA championship game at Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles on Saturday. Nick Agro Special to The Bee
Placer junior Louis Fudge evades the Crenshaw defense during the CIF State Division IV-AA championship game at Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles on Saturday. Nick Agro Special to The Bee

Joe Davidson

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

Joe Davidson

Placer’s dream season ends one touchdown short of a state championship

By Joe Davidson

jdavidson@sacbee.com

December 16, 2017 09:21 PM

The return trip to Auburn may not be so bad, even if the euphoria of winning doesn’t resonate through the buses.

But spending Sunday at Disneyland, or a trek to the nearby beaches, might sooth some of the sting of a championship that was so tantalizingly close.

Placer High School’s dream season ended with a last-play interception in the end zone in Los Angeles on Saturday night, allowing Crenshaw to hold on for a 46-43 victory in the CIF State Division IV-AA championship game.

It’s the first state title for the Cougars, adding to the school’s trophy case that features a record eight state Division I basketball championships in the 1980s and ‘90s, including wins over Jesuit in 1993 and ‘94.

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Isaiah Johnson had five touchdown passes and scored on a run to pace Crenshaw (12-3), which has remained competitive over the years despite declining enrollment. Johnson’s 7-yard strike to Rayshawn Williams with 1:41 left accounted for the final score.

Mike Stuck had touchdown passes of 10 and 55 yards to Travis Warren, and Brad Bishop scored on runs of 1 and 5 yards for the Hillmen, who finished 13-2. A throng of Hillmen fans made the trip and packed into the stands.

Placer won the Pioneer Valley League for the sixth consecutive season, then won its first Sac-Joaquin Section championship since 1981. The Hillmen overcame a 27-7 deficit last week to beat Salinas in the Northern California Regional final 43-42 in overtime.

The Hillmen will return all but three starters, so there is already talk of another championship run.

“We’ve grown so much this season, and I’m so proud of these guys,” said Placer coach Joey Montoya earlier this week.

Montoya takes everything Hillmen personal. He grew up the son of an assistant coach, and the grandson of an iconic one.

Bill Miller started the Hillmen dynasty in the 1970s, leading the program along with co-coach Tom Johnson to five section crowns and two state No. 1 finishes at Division II by Cal-Hi Sports to cap unbeaten seasons in 1977 and 1980.

Key Placer returners include Stuck, whose father Greg was a linebacker on Placer’s 11-0 team in 1980. Bishop, running back Marshall Chapman and two-way lineman star Joey Capra also return for Placer, which lost to Nevada Union 43-16 on Sept. 1 and then won 13 consecutive games, the most in school history.

Joe Davidson: 916-321-1280, @SacBee_JoeD