OAK PARK — The members of Sacramento High School football team know more than anyone where their strengths are and proved that they know when to use them in urgent situations against visiting Oakdale last weekend.
Oakdale was leading 14-13 at the half, and then came out to score quickly against the Dragons to make the score 21-14. That’s when Sac High began to put it together. The Dragons reeled of 28 unanswered points to beat Oakdale 41-21 in Round II of the Division III playoffs.
“Traditionally, our team is a better second-half team,” Sac High’s quarterback Caden Voges told The OBSERVER. “We do need to work on stepping it up in the first half so we can close out games like this sooner. But other than that, it was an all-around good effort from the defense and offense.”
Sac High’s junior running back Lonny Powell carried the ball six times for 84 yards and ran for a touchdown while Voges completed 14 passes for 301 yards and two TDs. Voges also ran for 58 yards on nine carries for the Dragons (10-2).
“I really don’t worry about myself out there,” said Voges, a sophomore. “I just try to make plays for our team. I just try to get what I can for us and do what I can for us.”
Voges credited wide receiver Damen Wheeler as one of the stars for the Dragons. Wheeler, a 6-foot-3, 180-pound athlete, caught five passes for 172 yards and two TDs. He has nearly 1,500 receiving yards this season that averages out to 20 yards per catch.
“He was outstanding,” Voges said of Wheeler’s performance against Oakdale.
The Dragons will face Christian Brothers (9-3), which is less than a mile from Sac High, in Round III of the Division III Playoffs on Saturday, Nov. 29. Sac High coach Paul Doherty asked his players to make sure they eat healthy food around the Thanksgiving Day holiday and use the right judgement while they spend time off campus during the break.
“This is a pretty mature group and I do have confidence in them,” Doherty said. “But this week is Thanksgiving, the kids are off for a week, and that’s a whole new challenge for us. So it’s tough. We have to get resources in to feed the kids, get them to practice early so they get out on time, and get them to bed early.”
Sac High played Oakdale on their home field in front of a fan base that brought out graduates from different eras. The site for the battle between the Dragons and Christian Brothers has not been decided despite the fact that Sac High has home-field advantage. Doherty rather play the game where Sac High won on Nov. 23. He said Sacramento City College’s McHughes Stadium is out of the question.
“I’m not playing on college asphalt,” Doherty said. “It’s our home game Saturday baby…in Oak Park.”
By Antonio Harvey
OBSERVER Staff Writer