Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Visit With MT's Trey Nahhas

He's a class act who is re-setting football rushing record books at Monterey Trail High School. Going into Friday's Division I semi-final showdown running back Trey Nahhas is confident the 13th-seeded Mustangs will do well against the top-seeded and defending Section champion Folsom Bulldogs.

His numbers this season are incredible: Coming off a 398 yards, 5 TD performance last week at Merced, Nahhas now has 2,534 yards rushing on 322 attempts - that's about 211 yards per game - and he's scored 33 TD's. The big running back talked with me after practice Wednesday:

Larson Wraps Up 2014 NASCAR Season With ROY Honors

Kyle Larson said it all in a tweet following the final NASCAR race of the 2014 season: “If there was a book to describe my first two years of NASCAR racing, it would be ‘Almost’.”

But, his first year on NASCAR’s Sprint Cup circuit wasn’t an almost. He was selected the “Sunoco Rookie of the Year.” That award not only was based upon how he finished each race this season, his first year on NASCAR’s major league circuit, but also how he carried himself with race officials, the media and the fans.

Seventeen times this year he finished in the top ten. Three times he was second. However, he never took a checkered flag, thus the self-bestowed “Almost” title. 
NASCAR's Sprint Cup rookie-of-the-year, Kyle Larson

"The best feeling I had this year was probably when I finished fourth at Watkins Glen, (New York)," Larson told NASCAR’s Holly Cain. "I didn't grow up racing on road courses and I struggled really bad the whole practice and qualifying that weekend. So then to end up fourth, which was way, way better than I thought I was going to be -- I was super pumped up about that."

Writers and other drivers call him an up-and-coming star, one that will certainly cruise into the winners’ circle one day soon.

"Really to start the year everyone thought I was going to fail,'' Larson said. "At least three-quarters of the people sitting in the media center probably did. Then I think they realized after the first handful of races that our team was capable of running well and the bar got raised and raised more throughout the year.”

"My expectations going into the start of the season were top-15 every week would be great and that quickly turned into wanting top-10s every week and lately top-fives and wins are the goal."

He did win a couple Nationwide races driving for Turner Scott Motorsports, though. One of them came this past May in the History 300 in Charlotte. The other was at Auto Club Speedway in March. Most Nationwide races are held on Saturdays at the same track of the Sunday Sprint Cup events.

The 22-year-old grew up in Elk Grove, a graduate of Pleasant Grove High School (though he finished 11th and 12th grade via independent study so he can race professionally), is now Target’s top spokesman.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Where Are All The Fans?

Two weeks of football playoff games are now in the book and in the Sac-Joaquin Section the semi-final games will be played this weekend in Divisions I, II and III.

In D-2 action Elk Grove will host St. Mary's Friday. If the Herd wins that means they'll be in the Section championship game for the third year in a row. They lost to Folsom two years ago and to Del Oro last season.

In Div.I, 13th seeded Monterey Trail will travel to top-seed Folsom. Monterey Trail hopes to be back in the big game for the first time in four years. 

But, this past week the social media was ablaze with reports that the crowds were quite small, virtually void of students, in stadiums where the second round games were played.

The home bleachers at EGHS Friday during its playoff game vs. Wood

Fox 40’s Mark Demsky posted a photo of a mostly-empty bleacher at Elk Grove High School during the Herd’s second round win over Will C. Wood High School.

Lots of fans and coaches weighed in via Facebook, even the head coach of Division I’s top-seed, Folsom, who had been packing the stands with fans at their Prairie City Stadium most of the past five years.

“We went from a packed student section to nobody in the student section,” Kris Richardson wrote. “Let the kids in free with a student body card!!”

The same kind of reports came in from the Tracy-Jesuit game on Saturday along with the Vacaville/Del Oro playoff contest Friday.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Monterey Trail Outruns The Bears, 51-45

A text from Monterey Trail’s offensive coordinator Rick Arcuri to the Citizen moments after the 12th –seeded Mustangs defeated the 4th-seeded Merced Bears on Friday night in the second round of the Sac-Joaquin Section football playoffs: “Monterey Trail 51-45, football heaven, practice on Thanksgiving.”

A few moments later while riding on a joyous team bus, Mustangs’ head coach T.J. Ewing echoed over the phone his assistant coach’s sentiments that a sign of success in the high school game is that your team is practicing at school rather sitting at home eating turkey and watching the pros play on TV.

“That’s a hundred percent correct,” Ewing said. “To play and to practice into Thanksgiving week is the best thing to ask your players.”

Arcuri’s next text was one that told the story of why the Mustangs, a fifth-place finisher in the Delta League, are still alive this season.

“Trey Nahhas, 33 carries, 391 yards, 5 TD’s.”

Just two weeks removed from a school record 346 yards rushing in the season finale against Davis, the Monterey Trail senior halfback once again was a load to take down while erasing his own record.

“I keep telling scouts he’s a once-in-a-lifetime type of player,” Ewing remarked. “I’d sure offer him. The guys around him are inspired by the way he plays.”

SJS Playoffs - Second Round Scores

Monterey Trail 51, Merced 45
Folsom 56, Franklin 13
Elk Grove 59, Wood 34 (Div II)
Grant 63, Downey 21 (Div II)
Modesto Christian 42, Bradshaw Christian 14 (Div VI)

Nahhas also completed a 40-yard halfback pass to Andre Flury to add to his memorable performance.

Now with road playoff wins over Cosumnes Oaks and Merced, the Mustangs, now 8-4, have the biggest obstacle in front of them. This Friday they take on number-one seed, and undefeated, Folsom, who destroyed Franklin, 56-13.

“It’s an honor for our school and our players to be in the Section semi-finals,” Ewing said. “To win two road games says a lot about the character of our team, their willingness to sacrifice for each other.”

Throughout the game Monterey Trail maintained a lead. The Mustangs ran out to a 21-7 advantage after the first quarter thanks to an E.J. Viacrusis to Jermaine Bell touchdown pass, an interception by Andre Flury and a quick TD run by Nahhas.

“Then it got a bit helter-skelter and Merced threw the ball a bunch and kept it close,” Arcuri said. “After they made it 51-45 with about four minutes left, we got the ball at our 20 and drove down the field, running the clock and we ended up taking a knee at their three yardline to end the game.”

Interceptions by Bell and Myles Pruitt in the first half allowed the Mustangs to get the ball back for their veer offense to steer out to a lead. Plus, the Mustangs earned a safety when a snap to the Bears quarterback went over his head and he was forced to land on the ball in the end zone.

Viacrusis had a good night throwing completing eight of 11 passes for 139 yards.

“Our guys went out there tonight purposing not to lose, they never waivered from that,” Ewing summarized.

With Grant’s 63-21 win over Downey and Elk Grove’s 59-34 victory over Wood in Division II, to go with Jesuit’s and Monterey Trail’s wins in the second round means four Delta League teams are still alive. That’s something that doesn’t surprise Ewing.

“Our league is no joke, there’s no doubt about that,” he said. “We play in the toughest league in the Section. Every team has great players on it. Every week we play like it is a playoff game.”

But, the Bulldogs stand between the Mustangs and their first return to the Section championship game in four seasons. A year ago in a non-league game, Folsom won easily, 49-21.

“Folsom is a truly outstanding team, coached by an outstanding man,” Ewing said. “We’ve known their coaches for years. They know how to run that spread (offense) and we have to be able to stop that. It ought to be a very good game and our kids are excited. The road to the championship runs through them, so we have to play them sometime.”

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

EG Faces Former Mentor; Franklin, MT On The Road

Should be an interesting night of high school football playoffs on Friday.

In town, Elk Grove will host former coach Carlos Meraz and Will C. Wood at 7 p.m. in Division II.

Division I games will be out of town - Franklin will be at top-seeded Folsom and Monterey Trail travels to #5 Merced.

Bradshaw Christian will take on #2 seed Modesto Christian in Modesto in Division VI semi-final action.
Follow the night's action snap-by-snap right here!
Live chat: Prep football playoffs, 2nd round

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Franklin Defense Stops Modesto, Now Will Face Folsom


Bring on the No. 1-seed Folsom Bulldogs.

If anyone thinks they may have a chance against the two-time defending Sac-Joaquin Section champions, it’s probably the Franklin Wildcats.

Riding a fast, good-tackling defense the Wildcats set themselves for another showdown with the Bulldogs thanks to Saturday’s 24-10 solid win over No. 8-seeded Modesto (9-2) at Downey High School in Modesto.

A year ago, the ninth-seeded Wildcats (7-4) were knocked out of the post-season in the second round by Folsom, 49-16. In that game Bulldog quarterback Jake Browning was almost perfect, directing his no-huddle offense to 35 points in the first half.

Coach Mike Johnson and crew hope this season things might be different – or maybe a little bit different. Wildcat fans may remember that Franklin’s top three running backs were all injured and out of the Folsom game. This year the top ground gainer, Lamar Jackson, who scored Franklin’s first TD of the game on Saturday, will have to shoulder the responsibility to consistently gain yardage to keep the high-flying Folsom offense on the sidelines.

In their playoff opener on Friday, the Bulldogs scored 42 points in the first quarter en route to a 70-16 rout of Stagg.

Franklin will need to ride a defense that held opponents to only 202 points in 11 games, third best in the Delta League behind Elk Grove (149 points) and Grant (166 points).

The Wildcats were stingy throughout Saturday’s game holding Modesto to a late first-half 27 yard field goal by Julio Corona and a Tre Ingram short run with about a minute left in the game. Franklin held the Panthers’ talented quarterback Nate Phillips to 161 yards passing and 43 yards rushing.

This season he averaged almost 200 yards passing and 120 yards rushing.

Plus, on Saturday, Franklin allowed the Panthers only 21 plays in the second half.

One thing, though, that helped Franklin was that Modesto receivers did drop five passes in the first half, all virtually in key situations. Two were drops in the end zone with another one that came on a fake punt.

Modesto outgained Franklin, 144-113 yards, in the opening two quarters, but trailed the Wildcats, 7-3 at intermission.

A Panther fumble early in the third quarter gave Franklin good field position and after a five-minute drive, Wildcat back Rahsaan York scored from the one-yard line on a fourth-down-and-goal situation. It was 14-3, Franklin.

After another Modesto fumble in Franklin territory, quarterback Jacob Lopez scored on a one-yard jog and Franklin led, 21-3, after three quarters.

Kardo Ballesteros tacked on a 34-yard field goal for the Wildcats with 3:14 left in the game.

With the loss Modesto continued a streak of futility they hope one day will end. The Panthers have never won a playoff football game.

“It’s frustrating that this school has never won a playoff game, but you learn something every year,” Modesto coach Rich Alkire told the Modesto Bee. “This year we were in the ballpark. Last year it wasn’t close.”