The high school football season kicks off Friday with a string of non-conference battles including Rocklin at Pleasant Grove and Jesuit at De LaSalle.
Grant will be playing its crosstown rival Burbank (special kickoff time of 5:30 p.m. at Titan Stadium) with a mission to start the season in a big way, showing fans this year they are the team to beat.
Coach Michael Alberghini begins his 46th season as a teacher/coach at the school, his 23rd as head football coach. He's had eight Section championship teams in that tenure and a State Bowl Game title. The 2014 Pacers could rank right up there with some of his elite squads.
They have the size (average 300 pounds on the line), the speed and the varsity experience to go 10-0. Plus, there's depth on the bench. They could easily be the class of the Delta League, which returns after an eight year absence.
That said, here is my predicted order-of-finish of the newly-revived Delta:
1. Grant - Alberghini admits the one question mark is whether there are enough footballs for everyone who wants to be "the man" on the Pacers this season. If he can encourage a bit of humility out of those guys, Grant will be unbeatable.
2. Jesuit - Outstanding talent, good size on the line as Marlon Blanton has the Marauders back to the status of being feared once again.
3. Elk Grove - Chris Nixon lost some talent to graduation, but has the Delta's best football player in Spencer Sheff. Plus, the Herd will once again find a passing game which should take the attention off a solid running attack.
4. Franklin - The Wildcats should be really good, make the playoffs, but they are in the Delta League and end up fourth. Mike Johnson has a really talented quarterback in junior Lamar Jackson.
5. Pleasant Grove - Interim head coach Russ Gardner will have to put together all the pieces on the heels of Joe Cattolico's resignation and replacement Jason Rossow's sudden medical leave-of-absence. The lack of size on the line will be an issue this season for the Eagles.
6. Monterey Trail - T.J. Ewing says he has his best senior class in quite a while, but the question is whether these guys have the talent to match up with any of the five teams above. They'll certain play with great desire.
7. Sheldon - Too many question marks for coach Herbie Berry. His son Nathan will quarterback the Huskies this season.
8. Davis - Likely won't win any games in the Delta. John Wiley, a former star cornerback at Auburn and with the Chicago Bears, is the Blue Devils' third coach in as many years.