Saturday, August 29, 2015

Soccer In The Park

This weekend marked the official start locally for the "other" football.

For the upstart Elk Grove Recreational Soccer League, today was "Soccer In the Park", the day where all of their 80 teams along with parents and fans ascended on Kerr Middle School to play their first games of the season.

Team photos, vendor tents, and of course, a soccer game were on tap for the new league's 1,000 kids.

"It's real, this should say something," EGRSL president John Hatzis said surveying the crowds of players and fans packed around the grounds of Kerr. 
The Board of Elk Grove Recreational Soccer League (L to R)

His organization broke away from the Elk Grove Youth Soccer League over the winter with one purpose in mind - to focus on recreational soccer, especially for the young kids.

His battle with the older soccer group will continue later this week when he and his board members will attend a CSD Board of Directors' meeting to urge them to allow EGRSL to use some of the fields under their control. Hatzis' teams have been restricted to using EGUSD school facilities.

"We're capped out and we know there will be more kids playing for us if we had the (CSD) fields available," Hatzis claimed. "CSD is losing money by not having us use their fields."

Hatzis vows his organization won't be forming a competitive or club division for it's not the vision of EGRSL.

"That's why we have partnered with I.R. Soccer for those kids that want to take their game to the next level," Hatzis said.

EGRSL teams will play a ten-game season this fall.

Friday, August 28, 2015

EG, Franklin, Bradshaw Win Season Openers

Week Zero Scores:

Elk Grove 38, Reno (NV.) 7
Franklin 30, Clovis North 24
Antelope 28, Monterey Trail 0
Bradshaw Christian 61, Big Valley Christian 6
Rocklin 63, Pleasant Grove 14
Granite Bay 21, Jesuit 7
Grant 50, Burbank 14
Florin 30, Mira Loma 17
Laguna Creek 59, West Campus 0
Sheldon 13, Beyer 12
Folsom 27, Clayton Valley 26
Placer 43, Nevada Union 7

Elk Grove - To Chris Nixon defensive turnovers are like, well, rain in the middle of a California  drought, or a Christmas gift delivered four months early.

Struggling with a big, physical Reno High School squad for the first half, the Thundering Herd turned three defensive turnovers and a 28-yard Ryan Robards punt return into 28 third-quarter points to run away from the Huskies, 38-7.

"Proud of our guys and how they responded in the second half," Nixon said. "I think we re-grouped at halftime and I think a lot of it is our intensity level and conditioning level we have."

Robards, the speedy senior who was switched this year to tailback, had 91 yards on 15 carries and a pair of TD's on top the key punt return along with kickoffs into the end zone all night. But in the fourth quarter Robards went down after a hit to his shin on the follow through of a 40-yard field goal that was good.
Ryan Robards setting up for a 40-yard FG. He made the kick
but was roughed by a Reno defender, injuring his shin

He spent the rest of the game on the bench with a pack of ice wrapped to the shin area. Fortunately, for the Herd, their most dynamic player will get a couple weeks to recover. Elk Grove has a bye next weekend.

"He's a guy who always comes out of these things with nicks, bruises and dings because he plays so hard," Nixon said. "And, usually Monday he's ready to go."

Reno scored on their first possession of the game driving 75 yards in 18 plays and three penalties to make it 7-0, Huskies. The drive took most of the first quarter.

"They are going to win a lot of games in Nevada," Nixon said. "They are a very good, physical football team."

Elk Grove's forced the first turnover of the game midway through the second period when Lau Ta'amu sacked the Reno quarterback forcing a fumble that was recovered by Tyrone Moore. Robards scored six plays later and the game was tied at seven at halftime.

On the third play of the third quarter linebacker Dylan Eldred picked off a pass and returned it 20 yards for the score.

Elk Grove forced Reno into a punt on the next possession and Robards returned the ball to the Huskies' 24-yard line. Julius Fullah scored four plays later to make it, 21-7, Elk Grove.
EG Quarterback Jayden Machado calling signals. The center
is Trevor Reinwald

Eldred intercepted another pass on the first play of the ensuing drive and Robards scored his second TD of the game four plays later and it was 28-7, Herd.

With a minute left in the third quarter, Jake Bellecci recovered a fumble at the Reno 35 and Gavin Reinwald scored on Elk Grove's next play to extend the Herd's lead to 35-7 after three quarters.

Elk Grove's next game is Sept. 11 at Lincoln High School in Stockton.


This is John Zehnder's 57th season running the game clock at Elk Grove football games. Of course, he is helped by his three sons, John Jr., Dan and Mike, who likewise have become fixtures in the press box Friday nights.
John Zehnder, Sr.

Zehnder remembered what got him started to volunteer at Herd football home games:

"Started in 1948. Elk Grove played in the Pig Bowl. I just got out of the service. After the game I told the coach they had only three downs in one series. 'No, no no,' he told me. They took pictures of the game and the coach called me and said, 'Son of a gun, you were right. We had only three downs and turned it over. From now on you take care of that chain gang. So, I was in the chain gang from 1948 until 1958."

He added that the 1998 Elk Grove team that featured Lance Briggs at linebacker and fullback and Ryan Dinwiddie at quarterback and placekicker was the best squad he saw in all those years.

Friday also marked public address announcer Ron Bieber's 39th year on the microphone at EGHS home games.
Ron Bieber

Chat With Section Commissioner

On Thursday, I met with Mike Garrison, commissioner of the Sac-Joaquin Section, about the current state of affairs in high school sports and to clarify the new contact rules in high school football.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Levin Leads Barclays After First Round

Elk Grove's Spencer Levin fired a five-under-par 65 to tie Bubba Watson and two others after the first round of the Barclays, the first of four tournaments to determine the winner of the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup. Here was his interview after round one.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

H.S. Football Season Is Here!

These are exciting days and it happens the last couple weeks of August annually.

It's high school football season with week "zero" games kicking off around the area Friday night. Delta League champions Grant will show off their newly refurbished field against cross-town rival Burbank, the five-time defending Metro  League titleists. Both clubs have plenty of speedy guys in the backfield and hefty guys up front.

Also getting ready to debut a new turf is Jesuit, last year's Delta runner-ups. The Marauders will travel to Granite Bay, then debut the new Loyola Field against Yuba City on Sept. 4. Beau Bisharat is perhaps the top running back in the whole league and will be the man to watch at Jesuit.

Elk Grove, who finished third last year, will host Reno in its home opener Friday. Franklin, with Lamar Jackson leading the way, will take on Clovis North at Cosumnes Oaks H.S.

Monterey Trail will be at Antelope, Sheldon will host Beyer, Pleasant Grove is at Rocklin and Bradshaw Christian will travel to Big Valley Christian. The Pride originally scheduled a home game with Oakland Tech, but they backed out and Bradshaw had to make a last-minute change.

Levin In PGA Playoffs

Elk Grove's Spencer Levin had his best professional Sunday round this past weekend when he fired a seven-under-par 63 at the Wyndham Championships. That allowed Levin to finish the tournament at 11-under-par and a tie for 14th place.
Spencer Levin

The Wyndham is the final tourney of the regular season for the PGA and this weekend the top 125 in FedEx Cup points will play in the Barclays. Levin, ranked 115th in the FedEx Cup race, must do well enough to move into the top 100 in order to play in the Deutsche Bank tournament the next week.

The PGA Tour website writes that Levin must finish in 37th place or higher this weekend in order to advance.

Larson Blows Tire, Hits Wall

NASCAR is also nearing its season-ending playoffs called "The Chase" and Kyle Larson may be on the outside looking in.

A year ago, the Sprint Cup series Rookie of the Year missed the Chase by one spot.

This year Larson has had several tough breaks. The latest came last Saturday at Bristol, Tenn., when he was in the top ten of the Irwin Tools Night Race for the first 60 laps of the race, then while in second place blew the left front tire. That knocked him back to 22nd.

After the repair Larson once again lost a tire and that sent him into the wall coming out of the fourth turn. He was knocked out of the race and ended up in 41st place. He dropped down to 20th in the Sprint Cup standings.

"Welp 0 luck again," Larson tweeted late Saturday. "We'll keep pushing forward though. Had a fast car tonight until the flat left front."

The Sprint Cup series will take the weekend off.

SJS Media Day

I will be at the Sac-Joaquin Section's Media Day Thursday morning. I will be interviewing Section commissioner Mike Garrison and will put the audio of that interview here on the Sports Corner late Thursday. Be looking for that.

I understand the Section has plenty of changes in the playoffs for several sports, so we'll offer a rundown for you.