35 Points Proves Not Enough Against Vista del Lago

By Mike Bush  |  2016-09-22

Three Cordova High School football players posted impressive offensive numbers against Vista del Lago in last Friday’s non-league game at Lancers Stadium.

That led to a high-scoring first half between the Lancers and visiting Eagles. But in the final 24 minutes of the game, the contest belonged to Vista del Lago, which posted a 52-35 victory over Cordova (2-2).

“The second half, I think, they just wore us down,” said Cordova head coach Darren Nill of the Eagles. “They were a more physical team than we were. They were bigger, they were stronger.”

Vista del Lago (2-2) led 32-29 at halftime. The signs showed that the second half could be a repeat of the first half.

“We were neck-and-neck,” said Nill of the first half. “They came out with a different defense than anybody has really played us all year. Their game, I believe, was just to take away our run and make us throw.”

In the third quarter, the Lancers looked like they had the Eagles grounded in terms of an offensive drive being stopped. But on third down, the Lancers were called for pass interference. That gave Vista another first down, and led to one of its two touchdowns in the quarter for a 44-29 lead.

“That really turned the momentum,” Nill said. “They were able to continue their drive.”

The Lancers’ next offensive drive, following the Eagles’ touchdown, resulted in a punt. But the punt was blocked, and the Eagles recovered the ball in Cordova territory. That led to Vista’s next touchdown in the quarter.

“It was those two events that took the wind out of our sails,” Nill said.

Both teams scored a touchdown each in the fourth quarter. But by that time, Vista secured the win.

The Eagles loaded the box on defense. That allowed Cordova quarterback Xavier Johnson time to throw the ball, and was very successful. The sophomore completed 18-of-30 passes for 333 yards for four touchdowns. When he wasn’t throwing the ball, he rushed 13 times for 121 yards.

“He had a great game,” said Nill of Johnson.

Cordova wide receivers Calvin Augusta and Alvin Banks also had outstanding games. Augusta, a junior, had only three receptions but for 123 yards and two touchdowns. Banks was 7-122 and a touchdown.

On defense, Lancer middle linebacker Kenneth Haney led the way with 15 tackles.

In the frosh/soph game, Vista del Lago was also winners over Cordova, 48-12.

Tonight, Friday, Cordova wraps up its pre-season schedule with a short trek to play at Foothill of Sacramento.

“I think it’s a win that we really want to have,” said Nill of tonight’s game against Foothill (1-3).

Game time for tonight’s game is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.

Lady Lancers Defeat Pacers

By Mike Bush  |  2016-09-22

Cordova volleyball player Shaieve Clore sends the ball over the net during a recent home match. Watching are teammates Gianna Bell (10) and Yesfir Oliferchik (4). 
--Photo by Rick Sloan

As the preseason schedule is nearing to an end, the Cordova High School volleyball team chalked up another victory.

Playing at Grant, the Lady Lancers went four games to produce a 3-1 win over the Pacers; the final scores were 23-25, 25-21, 25-19, 25-12.

The win improves Cordova to 3-3 for the season. On Wednesday, the Lancers hosted Foothill of Sacramento. Yesterday, Thursday, Cordova opened Sierra Valley Conference action at home against rival Rosemont.

In the Sept. 16th match at Grant, the Lady Lancers picked up momentum of the match in the third set, thanks to the players talking with each other on the court.

“They did a great job in communicating,” said Cordova head coach Shavonna Andrews. “It made a huge difference.”

The Lancers were led by the setting from Adrienne Hammond, along with teammate Gianna Bell.

“Adrienne stepped up as a setter,” said Andrews of Hammond. “Gianna had some big hits. The girls played great as a team.”

Cordova was without the services of two key players in the match in setter Kelsi Graf and Diana Ramirez, both out with injuries. But Andrews noted that Graf practiced on Monday. Yesfir Oliferchik converted tough serves for the Lancers in the match against the Pacers.

After Thursday’s SVC opener against Rosemont, Cordova continues action at Galt next Tuesday. Next Thursday, Cordova host Union Mine. Match time for both are scheduled for 6 p.m.

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Men’s Soccer Earns a Tie, Women’s Soccer & Volleyball Lose Big 8 Matches

Source: Ron Richardson, Folsom Lake College  |  2016-09-22

Women’s Soccer

With just one loss between the two teams prior to Friday’s match, the Folsom Lake and Santa Rosa women’s soccer teams were ready for a close battle.  As it turned out, a single defensive miscue was the difference in the game as Santa Rosa managed a late first-half goal and hung on for a hard-fought 1-0 victory.  The Falcons kept pressuring the Bear Cub defense, including two shots that hit the post, but could not break through.  The loss drops the Falcons’ record to 1-1 in Big 8 play (6-1 overall).  Looming large is Tuesday’s showdown with undefeated Diablo Valley (7-0, 2-0 in Big 8) in Pleasant Hill.

Women’s Volleyball

The Falcons opened Big 8 Conference play by hosting perennial contender and undefeated Sacramento City on Friday night at Falcon Gymnasium.  The pesky Falcons stayed close throughout the match but eventually fell, 3-0 (25-16, 25-16, 25-23).  Kylie Haverson recorded 11 kills for the Falcons, while Alexis Mauck and Samantha Hegseth tallied 16 and 12 digs, respectively.  On Saturday, the Falcons traveled to Redding for the Shasta College Tournament, where they had matches against Shasta, Simpson University (JV), and Cañada.  The Falcons lost a tight match to Shasta, 3-1 (22-25, 25-20, 24-26, 22-25) in the opener, then defeated both Simpson and Cañada in straight sets.  After a busy weekend, the Falcons have a 9-3 record in their first season of competition.  This week, they’ll travel to Santa Rosa on Wednesday and host Modesto on Friday evening.

Men’s Soccer

The Falcons concluded their round-robin tournament with a Saturday match against West Valley College.  Despite giving up two goals in the first 10 minutes, the Falcons collected themselves and fought back to tie the match in the second half with goals by Luis Aguilar and Santiago Peniche.  With the tie, the Falcons conclude their non-conference schedule with a record of 3-1-2.  They will open Big 8 Conference play next Tuesday (Sept 27) against American River at Falcon Stadium.

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Mistakes Costly for Cordova Football

By Mike Bush  |  2016-09-15

Cordova wide receiver Calvin Augusta slips past two Rio Linda players in last Friday’s non-league football game at Lancers Stadium. The Lancers lost a tough one 31-29. 
--Photo by Rick Sloan

At the beginning, the Cordova High School football team looked like it was going roll past Rio Linda.

But in last Friday’s non-league home game at Lancers Stadium, the Lancers saw their fine performance in the first quarter end at that point. Then the Knights took over the rest of the way that led to a 31-29 win over Cordova (2-1).

“We had a lot of confidence going into that game,” said Cordova head coach Darren Nill. “We came out firing on all cylinders.”

The Lancers jumped out to a 23-7 lead after the first quarter. On offense, Cordova moved the ball without much competition from the Knights.

“The quarterback (Lancer signal caller Xavier Johnson) was in his reads, the running backs were getting up the middle, the line was doing their job,” Nill said. “Everything was going really well.”

But Rio Linda (1-2) saw the momentum swing to its side of the field toward the end of the first quarter. That’s when Lancer wide receiver and linebacker Jason Johnson broke his foot. According to Nill, Johnson is expected to be out until the Sierra Valley Conference opener against Galt at Lancers Stadium on Friday, Oct. 7th.

“He left the game,” said Nill of Johnson, who led the team with 30 tackles going into last Friday’s game.

Cordova was whistled for five personal fouls in the game. The Lancers were flagged for 112 yards. Rio Linda lost only 70 yards.

“We still have some players that put themselves above the team,” Nill said. “We’ve talked to these players all the time. We’d get a drive kill because they can’t control their emotions. We beat ourselves.”

Cordova scored on its first three possessions of the game. Then the next six offensive opportunities, the Lancers had a combined 19 yards.

On their possession of the game, the Lancers scored and had a chance to tie the game in the fourth quarter to send it into overtime. But the 2-point conversion failed.

“Our team likes to make things exciting,” Nill said. “(The) loss to Rio Linda really hurt because we thought that was a game we should’ve had.”

Lancer runner back Deante McCullough had 11 carries for 95 yards and two touchdowns. Johnson completed 13-of-23 passes for 155 yards and one touchdown. The Lancers finished with 255 total offensive yards. Rio Linda had 372 total yards; 227 rushing and 145 passing.

On defense, Cordova linebacker Kenneth Haney had 15 tackles. Defensive lineman Kelechi Njoku followed at 11, defensive back Terrill Johnson 10 and linebacker Yusef Pugh nine. Jason Johnson had four tackles before he left the game with his injury.

In the junior varsity game, Rio Linda also came out with a 56-8 win over Cordova (0-3).

Tonight, Friday, Cordova welcomes Vista del Lago of Folsom, and one of three 9-12 high schools in the Folsom-Cordova Unified School District; Cordova and Folsom the other two. The Eagles soar into the game with a 1-2 record.

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Varsity Volleyball Team Splits Two Non-League Home Matches

By Mike Bush  |  2016-09-15


In the past week, the Cordova High School varsity volleyball team has split two non-league home matches. On Monday, the Lady Lancers hosted and defeated Johnson 3-0; the final scores were 25-17, 25-11, 25-12. On Sept. 9th, also at Lancers Gym, Cordova hosted Sacramento. But the Lady Dragons pulled out a 3-2 win; final scores were 25-15, 23-25, 25-17, 25-22, 15-5.  Today, Friday, Cordova plays at Grant in another non-league match. Next Wednesday, Cordova will host Foothill to close out the preseason.

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New Class Inducted into Sports Hall of Fame

By Mike Bush  |  2016-09-15

This year’s pride of Rancho Cordova, inductees and the families of those who could not attend. 
--Photo by Rick Sloan

If there’s anyone who is familiar with Cordova High School athletics, it is Ken Rudolph.

The 1985 CHS graduate played Lancer football and baseball. Rudolph, now co-host of Good Day Sacramento on KMAX, CW-31 and part of the weekday midday show on Sports 1140 AM, shared his stories of being a Lancer.

“I bought into the Cordova way,” Rudolph said.

On Sept. 10th at the Rancho Cordova City Hall, Rudolph served as emcee for the second annual Rancho Cordova Sports Hall of Fame. Many former Cordova High School student-athletes, coaches and those who contributed to athletics in the city of Rancho Cordova were honored.

In front of a packed house, Rudolph recalled one particular story of a game in 1984 in which teammate and quarterback Troy Taylor, who went on to have a stellar career at Cal and a brief stint in the National Football League, threw a pass to Rudolph that was intercepted in a 1984 game. But no harm was done to Taylor, who was part of the Folsom High School football coaching staff that has produced many league, Sac-Joaquin Section, Nor-Cal and California Interscholastic Federation titles since 2010. Taylor was one of the inductees.

“We were down 20-6 at halftime, and we came back and won that game 24-20,” Rudolph told the crowd.

Speed up to the day before the Hall of Fame ceremonies. Rudolph told the crowd he and his son were playing MLB 2009 on their X-Box360. Playing for the Philadelphia Phillies, Rudolph batted against Geoff Jenkins, a former Lancer pitcher who was also inducted.

“I know that guy,” Rudolph told the audience, referring to the conversation he had with his son. “I’m going to induct him into the hall of fame (last Saturday).”

This year’s inductees were the following:

  • The 1973 Cordova High School Mile Relay track and field team of Darrell Smith, Gerald Smith, Fred Dawkins and Rod Connors, all of whom the state championship.
  • Former Lancer basketball star Zach Andrews (CHS graduate in 2003), who went on to play at Yuba College before an outstanding National Basketball Association (NBA) career with the Los Angeles Lakers.
  • A 1977 Cordova graduate, Brian Bailey was a four-sport athlete, shining in football, wrestling, swimming and track and field. He went on to play football at Cal, and earned the 1979 Brick Muller Award, which is bestowed upon Cal’s most valuable lineman.
  • Jerry Bates served as the Cordova High School junior varsity football coach, where he produced a record of 25-1-1 in the mid-1970s.
  • Joyce Bowles Brown, another 1979 CHS graduate who starred in volleyball and track and field. In the long jump, she set the school record at 19 feet, 3 inches. After serving in the United States Air Force Reserves, she played on the Sacramento Sirens, a woman’s professional women’s football team that won three straight championships from 2002 to 2004.
  • Joe Brown, a decorated World War II veteran who flew 32 missions. After the war, he became a teacher at Mills Junior High School, and was the school’s football head coach. He posted a record of 46-6-2. He passed away in 2005.
  • Chad George is a former three-time CHS wrestling champion who practiced mixed martial arts. He’s won in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, three-time MMA champion, plus three-time World Exchange Cage Fighter.
  • Geoff Jenkins, a 1992 CHS graduate, had a standout baseball career as a Lancer and at University of Southern California (USC). He led the Trojans to the College World Series. He moved on to play in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Milwaukee Brewers and Philadelphia Phillies, who he won a World Series crown in 2008.
  • Eppie Johnson, founder and director of Eppie’s Great Race. Johnson passed away in 2013.
  • Tracy Rinderneck Kitz, a 1976 Cordova graduate who was a volleyball standout, and was a three-sport athlete in basketball and softball. She went on to play volleyball at American River College and Sacramento State. At Cordova
  • Karen Nickerson Masterson starred for Lancers’ track and field in the early 1980s. Competing in the discus, she won the 1981 Sac-Joaquin Section title in the event with a toss of 156’ 7” and took seventh place at the CIF state meet at 165’ 10”.
  • Nyls Nyman was an early 1970s CHS graduate who also played professional baseball. He was named to the All-State Team and is listed among Sacramento’s top 100 High School Baseball Players from 1950-1999.
  • Steve Petuskey booted his way into success as a former Lancer soccer player in the late 1970s. He went on to play at Cosumnes River College and Sacramento State, then turned pro and played for the Sacramento Knights, who won the Continental Indoor Soccer League crowns in 1993. In 1994, the Knights won the U.S. Open Cup.
  • Steve Pilcher, a former Cordova wrestler who pinned opponents at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) in the mid-1970s. He also wrestled Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling.
  • Dawn Puhr played three sports at Cordova toward the end of the 1970s into the early 1980s, but stood out in softball. She went on to play centerfield at Sacramento State, which won the Division II championship in 1981.
  • Helen Russell was a heart of a champion, who volunteered her time as a medical trainer for CHS athletic teams.
  • Laurie Salo played volleyball, field hockey, basketball and softball at CHS. She was recruited by UC Davis to play softball, and earned MVP honors in the mid to late 1980s.
  • Mike Sedillo is a California Boxing Hall of Famer who was a multi-sport athlete at CHS and Mills Junior High School in the late 1970s. He played basketball at the University of Seattle, and invited to the Seattle Mariners’ baseball camp before opting to become a boxer, winning his first seven matches that included three by knockout. Most notable bout for Sedillo was beating Diamond Jim McDonald at, then, Arco Arena (now Sleep Train Arena), in 1988.
  • Bill Shiflet, a 1972 CHS graduate, played football, wrestling and track and field for the Lancers. But after high school, he switched to rugby. He played for the USA Football Union Eagles from 1983 until 1987.
  • Judy Shipman, a former CHS coach, battled and defeated cancer twice to compete in many well-known races. At age 50, she has competed in many races that included the Boston Marathon, and is a 10-time Eppie’s Great Race Ironwoman winner. She was recently honored, now at 75, as the Woman’s Ultra Veteran Athlete of the Year.
  • Troy Taylor, after his playing days with Rudolph and the Lancer football program, shined as quarterback at Cal, then the pros with the New York Jets from 1990 to 1992. After working as an assistant coach in the Christian Brothers High School football program, he moved to Folsom High School that has won many titles. He’s now coaching at Eastern Washington University.
  • Randy Veres played football, basketball and baseball at CHS until he graduated in 1984. He moved on to play baseball, which took him to Sacramento City College and the Brewers. He played for five more MLB teams toward the end of the 1980s.
  • Ryan Yantis swam to success at CHS. He was a four-time All-American, and set national and section high school records in 1979. Those marks were broken in 2007.

The event was organized by the Rancho Cordova Athletic Association in partnership with the Cordova Community Council.

“Our Hall of Fame acknowledges and memorializes that incredible history and will inspire our current and future youth athletes as well,” said Rancho Cordova Mayor David Sander and president of the Rancho Cordova Athletic Association in a press statement.

To be elected to the Rancho Cordova Sports Hall of Fame, inductees were judged to have attained significant achievements in or contributions to athletics, as well as exhibiting high standards of character and sportsmanship.

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Lancer Gridders Hang on to Beat Chavez Titans

By Mike Bush  |  2016-09-08

Cordova running back Deante McCullough, seen here running past a Rio Americano defender in the Lancers’ home opener two weeks ago, scored two touchdowns in last Friday’s game at Chavez. 
--Photo by Rae Lynn Flippo

At one point in the fourth quarter of last Friday’s non-league road game, the Cordova High School football team held a sizable lead over host Chavez.

Then the Titans threw a scare into the Lancers.

Leading 34-6, Cordova survived the Titans’ potential come-from-behind aspirations by posting a 34-32 victory on Chavez’s field in Stockton.

“We had some secondary breakdowns,” said Cordova head coach Darren Nill. “That momentum thing is either a great friend or a great enemy, and it was a great enemy to us.”

Cordova survived three turnovers in the fourth quarter after building its big lead. Chavez had two successful onside kicks, plus an interception that lead to touchdowns. The Lancers had the ball on only one offensive possession in the final 12 minutes of the game.

“They just kept coming down and scoring,” Nill said. “We just had to hang on for dear life. Other than (the fourth quarter), defense was absolute dominate.”

The Lancers scored four touchdowns in the third quarter that led to their 34-6 lead. The rushing game was paced by running backs Deante McCullough and Calvin Augusta, both of whom scored two touchdowns each in the game. McCullough was the Lancers’ leading ball career with 17 carries for 111 yards.

In the first half, Cordova was inside the Titans’ red zone six times, but only coming out with one touchdown that led to a 6-6 halftime score. Nill feels if the Lancers had scored more than one touchdown, the final score would’ve been not as close.

“Drives were killed by a penalty, or a fumble or an interception,” Nill said. “It could’ve been 63-0. Our guys have to learn to keep their foot to the throat of the opponent. It’s something to learn from.”

In the air, Cordova quarterback Xavier Johnson completed 17-of-35 passes for 199 yards and two touchdowns but three interceptions. Augusta was double threat for the Lancers; he hauled in seven receptions for 106 yards.

On defense, Lancer defensive tackle Kelechi Njoku had 11 tackles and two fumble recoveries. A bigger impressive number for the junior is six quarterback sacks for a loss of 55 yards, and batted down two passes.

“That kid was the difference in us winning the game,” said Nill of Njoku. “He came up big every time on defense.”

Cordova linebacker Jason Johnson had 14 tackles in the game. Middle linebacker Kenny Haney followed with nine and defensive tackle Fidel Romero eight.

In the frosh/soph contest, Chavez posted a 34-15 win over Cordova (0-2).

Tonight, Friday, Cordova plays the first of back-to-back home games at Lancers Stadium, as Rio Linda (1-1) pays a visit. Game time is 7:30 p.m.

“We expect to see 85 percent runs,” said Nill of the Knights, who run the Wing-T offense but with a player in motion on almost every play.

Next Friday, Cordova will host Vista del Lago of Folsom.

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