Three weeks in to the high school football season and we’re certain of a few things: The Sierra Foothill League remains as good as advertised — same for Grant — and injuries will take a toll as they always do in this sport, at any level.
Even the powerhouse programs feel the aches and pains of battered shoulders, knees and ankles, but the best programs have depth.
Also good to know: These rankings are not win-loss standings. Strength of schedule matters, and so, too, does a team’s overall effort, even if it’s a smaller school.
This week’s action includes Saturday’s Holy Bowl between Christian Brothers and Jesuit at Hughes Stadium and that day’s Honor Bowl lineup in El Dorado Hills. The Honor Bowl includes three-time defending Sac-Joaquin Section champion Manteca taking on Rocklin at 4 p.m. and host Oak Ridge taking on Bay Area powerhouse Clayton Valley Charter of Concord in the nightcap.
Here’s a look at The Bee’s Top 25.
1. Folsom (2-1)
The Bulldogs bounced back from a 21-14 loss at Northern California top-ranked Serra of San Mateo to beat Edison of Stockton, 48-15, pulling away from a 7-7 game after the first quarter. QB Ryder Lyons led the offense while Jaron Hodson, Theo Greule and Lucas Hardeman spearheaded the defense. Next: at Turlock.
2. Oak Ridge (3-0)
The Trojans played strong ball against a highly ranked San Diego power, using defense to help seal a 22-20 victory over Madison in the Southern California Honor Bowl. Joaquin Graves-Mercado passed for two scores, Jasen Womack rushed 31 times for 140 yards, and Kaleb Edwards had two sacks. Next: vs. Clayton Valley Charter.
3. Grant (2-1)
The Pacers recovered quickly from the 21-18 loss at Oak Ridge to pound Reno, 40-0. Luke Alexander passed for 355 yards and four TDs, two to Kingston Lopa. Wayshawn Parker rushed for 161 yards and two scores, and freshman WR Koby Shabazz, he of the cool name and tremendous upside, had 140 yards receiving. Next: vs. Los Gatos.
4. Rocklin (3-0)
Reeve Sloan passed for 176 yards and two scores, Derek Keeley rushed for 110 yards and caught a TD in a masterful all-round effort, Tyler Ward had an interception and the Thunder recorded five sacks in a 42-20 win over Buchanan. Next: vs. Manteca.
5. Del Oro (3-0)
Caden Pinnick. Heard of him? Now go watch him compete. The senior QB ace dazzled again, passing for three scores and running for another, and Marcel Urquhart scored on a 67-yard TD to help beat Placer 35-20 in a festive, overflow setting in Auburn.
6. Casa Roble (3-0)
The Rams are rolling, having beaten Placer 21-7, West Park 35-14 and Lincoln 42-0 as Cole Owens continues to make plays all over, including a TD catch and a pick-6 against Lincoln. Braylen Blevins rushed for 118 yards and a score on Friday. Del Oro soon heads to Orangevale for a thriller. Next: vs. Del Oro, Sept. 15.
7. Inderkum (2-1)
The Tigers have not allowed a point and barely any yards in the last two games, wipe outs of 60-0 vs. Capital Christian and 68-0 over Sacramento, both Bee preseason-ranked teams. Baron Taylor had two interceptions and has 10 for his Tigers career. Kyle Gurganious and Christian Harris can do it all with the ball in addition to being stellar leaders and students. Next: at Cosumnes Oaks.
8. Granite Bay (1-2)
The Grizzlies have an opening win over Elk Grove, a loss at Manteca and a 41-21 setback to powerhouse Pittsburg of the North Coast Section. Next: vs. Antelope.
9. Vacaville (2-1)
The Bulldogs trailed North Bay heavyweight Cardinal Newman in Santa Rosa 20-0 after the first quarter of a 27-7 loss as Cristian Diosado rushed for 105 yards and a score. The passing game managed no positive yardage, however. Next: vs. Granite Bay, Sept. 15.
10. Jesuit (1-1)
The Marauders have split with two out-of-area teams, including a 28-27 loss to Sacred Heart Prep of San Francisco despite a big game from QB CJ Lee (101 yards passing, 118 yards rushing) and five team sacks. Cooper Babb and George Hemmen have played well in the trenches. It’s Holy Bowl week. Next: vs. Christian Brothers.
11. Vista del Lago (2-1)
The Eagles have a one-touchdown loss to mighty Manteca and a fresh win over one of the top programs in the section in Vanden as John Koett passed for 240 yards and three scores, one each to Matt Long, Matthew Werpy and Dominic Rostami. Camden King had 10 tackles and an interception and Nicholas Navarre had 17 stops. Next: at Placer.
12. Woodcreek (3-0)
The ‘Creek beat a speedy and talented Cosumnes Oaks team 28-16 with old-school tactics — rushing 47 times for 348 yards. Hakeem Anderson had 148 yards and two TDs on 24 carries. Dylan Perrault had 83 yards and one TD while Brody Krupp ran for 77 yards. The team had three sacks on D and nine pancake blocks from the offensive line. Next: at Lincoln.
13. Elk Grove (1-2)
The Thundering Herd is 1-1 against local teams with a 27-13 setback to Granite Bay and a 55-32 win over Antelope. The Herd then suffered a 20-14 loss to Bay Area heavy Menlo-Atherton with another one coming. Next: vs. San Ramon Valley.
14. Monterey Trail (0-2)
The Mustangs lost their opener to Folsom, then took a 28-21 setback to Central Coast Section power Saint Francis and now prepares for another storied program. Next: at Pittsburg.
15. Christian Brothers (2-1)
The Falcons are a hearty lot. Down 24 guys after illness and injuries, they beat Rodriguez of Fairfield 42-20 as Deakon Holden passed for 155 yards and Daniel Kamara rushed for 161 yards and three scores. The 6-foot-5, 225-pound Jack Van Loben Sels had 10 tackles. Fire up the Holy Bowl! Next: vs. Jesuit.
16. Sutter (2-1)
The Huskies have wins of 54-7 over Carson of Nevada and 27-24 over McQueen of Nevada with a 26-24 loss to Chico, all schools with much larger enrollments. Sutter got what it wanted and needed — to be challenged. Tristan Watkins had 112 yards rushing against McQueen as the Huskies went smash-mouth with 43 carries and 256 yards on the ground. Next: vs. Bradshaw Christian.
17. West Park (2-1)
The Panthers have nice wins over ranked teams in Laguna Creek (35-20) and Pleasant Grove (35-24) along with a 35-14 loss to Casa Roble. Not a bad showing for a team full of non-seniors, though one of them is leading the charge in do-all Westin Wade. Next: at Tokay.
18. Pleasant Grove (2-1)
The Eagles were wobbly down the stretch, hammered by illness, in the loss at West Park, but the real hurt is with QB Cole Davis, who may miss the rest of the season with a shoulder injury. Next: vs. Laguna Creek.
19. Laguna Creek (2-1)
Since opening with a 35-20 loss to West Park, the Cardinals beat Franklin 35-0 and Roseville 39-30. Mitchell Labrado passed for 130 yards and a TD to Ryan Eddy, and rumbler back Armon Thorntona was unstopable, rushing 22 times for 281 yards and five scores. Ride that train. Next: vs. Pleasant Grove.
20. Roseville (2-1)
A week after topping Placer 34-27, the Tigers lost a tough one to Laguna Creek, 39-30, though sophomore Mason Susnara played well in passing for 185 yards and three TDs, two of them to Joel Bradley. Next: at Lincoln.
21. Twelve Bridges (3-0)
Some may bemoan, “They haven’t played anybody!” New schools don’t schedule Sierra Foothill League teams to get their face masks kicked in, though a solid showing against Del Oro in a scrimmage has led to this fast start, and QB Whit Kruse and RB Nathan Crawford can play anywhere. Next: at Northgate.
22. Yuba City (2-1)
Don’t frown on the 35-0 loss at the top team in the Northern Section in Pleasant Valley of Chico. Frown if the losses continue. Next: at Chico.
23. Placer (0-3)
Surely, we’ve been bought to keep the Hillmen ranked, right? Never! But please note, we like our hoodies extra large, our preferred parking spots extra close and the hot dogs with extra fixings, please. Placer is legit with close losses to Casa Roble and Roseville and Friday’s 35-20 setback to Del Oro. Next: vs. Vista del Lago.
24. Union Mine (3-0)
First-year coach Brandon Pacheco has the Diamondbacks of El Dorado playing inspired. It’s no wonder. The team competes in honor of the program’s greatest player, Sean Tow, a beloved assistant coach who died in June at 28 from pancreatitis. Next: vs. Colfax.
25. Rio Americano (3-0)
OK, so the Raiders haven’t conquered any world beaters, but this is their best start in years and they’re no longer having their brains beaten to mush. Soon: The Capital Athletic League with Vista del Lago and Christian Brothers. Next: vs. Burbank.
Bubble: Bella Vista (2-1), Bradshaw Christian (2-1), Colfax (2-1), Delta (3-0), East Nicolaus (2-1), Marysville (2-1), River City (3-0), Wood (3-0), Woodland Christian (3-0).
The Bee’s Sac-Joaquin Section rankings
1. Folsom (2-1)
2. St. Mary’s-Stockton (3-0)
3. Central Catholic-Modesto (2-1)
4. Oak Ridge (3-0)
5. Manteca (2-1)
6. Grant (2-1)
7. Rocklin (3-0)
8. Del Oro (3-0
9. Casa Roble (3-0)
10. Escalon (3-0)