The second half of the season and the beginning of league play got underway Friday night when the Rio Linda Knights football team hosted the Ponderosa Bruins, and overcame a renewed second half effort by the Bruins to come away with a win, 37-34. The Knights respected running game was hitting on all cylinders, and the defense played tough all night, but there are some rough edges to the Rio Linda game.
In classic Knights fashion, They graciously allowed the Bruins to get on the board first as a sort of “Welcome to our home” gift, when Ponderosa took the opening possession and drove down the field to the 3 yard line. RB Colin Taylor punched it in from 3 yards out, but the PAT kick was no good.
On the following kickoff, the Knights’ Abraham Banks worked his magic and ran the ball back 75 yards for a touchdown. Unfortunately it was called back on a holding penalty. Penalties costing points will become a theme as this game progresses.
On the Knights first possession, Cameron Skattebo takes the ball on a 45 yard run toward the end zone. Two plays later, Abraham Banks makes good on a QB keeper. After a false start penalty which set the Knights back another 5 yards, the point after failed, leaving them tied at 6.
The Knights would be penalized four times in the first quarter, with two of those penalties coming on point scoring plays, costing the team 8 points. Points that would come in handy later in the game.
Ponderosa turned the next possession over on downs as a stout 4th down rush by Junior Defensive Lineman Adrian McNealy chased the Pondo QB out of the pocket and out of bounds.
At 5:53 in the 1st quarter, the Knights took over on the 38 yard line and would drive to the end zone. Banks would score again on an off-center keeper. Skattebo set the score straight with a 2 point conversion and put the Knights ahead 14-6.
With less than 3 minutes to play in the quarter, Knights LB/RB Jamone Gates recovered the following onside kick. In the drive toward the end zone, Kyle Deloney-Spencer caught a 20 yard toss from Banks on a 4th and 2 play to end the quarter and extend the drive.
The Knights were penalized four times in the first quarter, with two of those penalties costing the team points.
The next score came from Cameron Skattebo, when he punched in an 8 yard run on 2nd and Goal, and followed that up by kicking his own PAT. Score is now 21-6.
With 3:25 left in the half, Ponderosa would score again on a 1 yard dive at the goal line, and they added a 2-point conversion. Score: 21-14 Knights.
During the Knights possession, Kyle Deloney-Spencer caught a pass on the 20 yard line, which was called back on a holding penalty. With 1:20 left in the half, Abraham Banks put up a 15 yard run at midfield, only to have that gain nullified by offsetting penalties. With 20 seconds left, the Knights were called for illegal procedure. Finally, another pass to the endzone was waived off with a flag thrown for offensive pass interference.
Halftime arrived with the Knights up, 21-14.
At 10:39 of the third quarter, Abraham Banks found the house again on an off-tackle run play. Kyle Deloney-Spencer made the PAT, bringing the score to 28-14, Knights.
In the Mid-third quarter the teams would exchange 3-and-out possessions, until Rio Linda had their punt blocked, and Ponderosa recovered the ball on the 12 yard line. On the next play the Knights recovered a Ponderosa fumble. One play later, Abraham Banks carries the ball 85 yards for the touchdown. The PAT play was penalized, and the kick missed, making the score 34-14 and giving the Knights their largest lead of the game.
Ponderosa would claw back some ground with a touchdown at 4:02 remaining the in third quarter. The PAT kick was faked, and the pass fell incomplete. 34-20, Knights leading. Pondo would score again with 22 seconds remaining in the quarter on a 3 yard QB sneak. Score 34-27, Knights.
In the 4th quarter, With Cameron Skattebo out with a shoulder stinger the Knights moved Kyle Deloney-Spencer to QB and Abraham Banks to halfback. The Knights defense tightened up, denying 4th down conversions to the Bruins twice, and forcing them to turn the ball over on downs.
Finally, with 30 seconds left to play in the game, the Bruins scored again, making the final score 37-34 in favor of the Rio Linda Knights.
There are no statistics available for penalties, but this Knights team has a penalty problem. Giving up yards and wasting downs is one thing, but penalties that cost points will kill them. They have also fumbled the ball 8 times this season, and lost possession of 6 of those fumbles.
And yet they persevere. The Knights are now putting up over 411 yards per game rushing between Skattebo and Banks. This season Skattebo has 1037 rushing yards and Banks has 929. In this game, Banks had 298 yards and 4 touchdowns, and was subsequently named the SportStars magazine player of the week.
This season has started to look a lot like last season, where the Knights scratch and claw and fight for 48 minutes and somehow come out on top each week. The real test will come next Friday, when the Knights travel to Auburn to take on the Placer Hillmen.
Placer is a tough, no-nonsense running team, with the Wing-T offense and 6-4, 230lb running back Hans Grassmann in their arsenal. Last year, the Knights fell to Placer at home 48-23. Grassmann went for 239 yards and 4 touchdowns, while the Hillmen defense held Skattebo and Banks to zero rushing touchdowns. They went on to win the FVL, and lost to Capitol Christian in the section playoffs.
This year, the Hillmen are 4-2 with losses vs. Whitney and Cardinal Newman (Santa Rosa). They are 1-0 in league play, beating Nevada Union last week 28-14. As of now, Grassmann has 876 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns. He is a monster running back.
The importance of winning this game at Placer cannot be overstated. Oakmont and Lincoln are playing well this season, but I’m convinced that the winner of this game will also be the winner of the FVL.
As of right now, Rio Linda at Placer is anticipated to be played at 7pm, at Placer High School in Auburn on Friday night, October 11th. Should the PG&E power outages make that time untenable, we will announce the date and time on the Rio Linda Online Facebook and Twitter pages.