Prep football: Pleasant Grove savors dramatic win; Serra tops Folsom; surprising 2-0 teams

Josh Crabtree didn’t enter JR’s Donuts in Elk Grove just before 6 o’clock Saturday morning as much as he bounded into the joint.

Crabtree is Pleasant Grove High School’s spirited, animated, talented and wildly fun second-year football coach, and he looks the part of guard or tackle with his bouncer-big body.

“The look on the faces when I walked in there and said, ‘I need six dozen donuts,’ and the way I look, I thought she was going to schedule an intervention,” Crabtree recalled.

The tasty treats were not for the coach but for his fired-up Eagles, who in quick order have gone from a devoured 1-9 team of 2022 to a 2-0 club hungry for more.

The early upset of the season in the Sacramento region played out Friday night in the Elk Grove Unified School District, at Sheldon, where the Eagles play their home games. Facing a Christian Brothers team that returns a lot of talent and expects a return trip to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III finals, Pleasant Grove took its only lead on a booming 47-yard field goal by a 6-foot-5 soccer star in Carter Tseu — pronounced Zay-who. He was the calmest guy in the huddle.

That kick had plenty to spare, giving the Eagles a 36-35 lead with 55 seconds remaining, but it took the efforts of Zach Barbieri and Antonio Vasquez-Williams to save the night. They blocked a 30-yard CB attempt at the horn as a packed Pleasant Grove crowd rejoiced.

Two kids with mutual allegiances on Friday were Crabtree’s own kids — junior daughter Nari and freshman son Nolan. They are CB students and coach Crabtree enthusiasts.

“Just a great night,” Crabtree said. “Nari had at CB shirt and PG pajama bottoms and got a lot of sideways looks from her CB friends. ... It’s very clear that the community and the school want to get behind this team. The campus is alive. It’s good for everybody. Friday was like a movie scene. I feel so good for these kids.”

Caden Bemis rushed for 116 yards and three touchdowns for Pleasant Grove while Cole Davis passed for 194 yards and a score. The unsung leaders here are the biggest donut consumers. That’s the offensive line, including center Wyatt McCullough and 6-6, 270-pound tackle Mo Othman. Crabtree coaches the unit along with Dave Hoskins, the ageless coaching wonder in his 57th year doing this at various schools around the region.

“The line has been great,” Crabtree said. “They’re getting it double-barreled with Hoskins in one ear and me in the other.”

Crabtree said scrimmaging powerhouse St. Mary’s of Stockton a week before the season opener was a needed reminder that a team can get undressed in a hurry. A year ago, Pleasant Grove parents scorched Crabtree when they learned he was going to take his young bunch to St. Mary’s for a scrimmage, stressing that he was “endangering our children.” There is no such talk now.

“St. Mary’s is a big reason why we’re 2-0,” Crabtree said. “I wasn’t going to schedule a scrimmage with East-West Technical School of Galt.”

But success is fleeting. West Park of Roseville looms, ready to eat the Eagles’ lunch.

Serra tops Folsom: In a Goliath vs. Goliath showdown in San Mateo on Saturday, Northern California No. 1 Serra topped Bee No. 1 Folsom 21-14. Serra scored on the first play and led 21-0 after the first quarter, but the Bulldogs showed championship grit behind impressive sophomore quarterback Ryder Lyons and their sturdy defense.

Folsom’s rally didn’t irk Serra coach Patrick Walsh. His team’s inability to put the Bulldogs away did. He told reporters afterward: “We need to be a tougher organization. We just weren’t tough enough. We just weren’t organized enough to do exactly what we wanted to do. But Folsom has a lot to do with that. Folsom is being Folsom. What, are they going to lay down for us?”

Said Folsom coach Paul Doherty: “Proud of the effort. I think the game was probably not as close as it ended. They took it to us. Good football team and they beat us. But we try to be really proud about the fact that there are no moral victories. We expect our kids to play great. This is the brand of football they want to play. They want to be the best team in Northern California and want a chance at some of these teams in the South.”

More 2-0 starts: Rio Americano is 2-0 for the first time since 2007, and no one is more pleased than tireless coach Reid Sanders, who has poured himself into the task of turning the Raiders around. Rio has enjoyed one winning season since 2008, and Sanders has worked to raise roster numbers and the intensity within the program.

The Raiders on Friday beat Liberty Ranch of Galt, the victory sealed by an effort play — a Tobias Black sack. Alex Wallace had 106 yards receiving and two touchdowns along with 10 tackles on defense for Rio Americano.

Mira Loma is suddenly 2-0 for the first time since 2010, thanks in large part to coach Jesse Collins, quarterback Brennan Collins and running back Brad Williams.

River City is 2-0 under first-year coach Marcus Tribble, who is so cool that he wears Sesame Street T-shirts. River City beat Lincoln 21-7 and River Valley 26-20 in overtime as Adrian Walters rushed for 145 yards and two scores.