Thoughts from the Holiday Classic All Star game

Well, I have to say I was surprised by the 23-8 win by Sacramento in Sunday’s Holiday Classic All Star football game. Not that Sacramento beat the East Bay, but by the mere eight points scored. With the talent the East Bay had on offense, I was figuring they’d get into the 30s easily. But this goes to show how much football is a team game.

The main factor in the low scoring was the Sacramento defense. Their front seven dominated and really put pressure on Ricky Lloyd and Ikaika Woolsey. Both were scrambling the entire game and rarely had the opportunity to sit back and read the defense. Lloyd made some great plays and great throws, but with only a week to work with the receivers, the timing and instincts weren’t always there. One play in particular was a double-reverse flea flicker where Lloyd launched one deep to an open Trevor Taft. The ball ended up being just long after it appeared Taft might have slowed down for a step or two. You have to think if that was a play they had been working on for weeks, it might’ve turned out differently.

There were some highlights for the East Bay. Bishop O’Dowd’s Trenton Trammell made a fabulous interception when he basically jumped in front of a receiver while both players where going back for the ball and he cut him off to pick it off. De La Salle’s Antoine Pickett also had an interception. The play I was probably the most impressed with was an option run by Dano Graves. McClymonds’ Marcus Peters (who was playing safety because of the East Bay’s depth at corner), flew in from the backside and caught Graves from behind for a seven-yard loss. Washington’s DeAndre Carter also had a nice game and caught the lone touchdown pass from Lloyd.

Overall it was a pretty good day for football. It was cool and crisp and the rain stayed away. A good crowd on both sides. I’d say a good enough showing by East Bay folks that hopefully next year’s game may get alternated down to the East Bay. Here’s my story that ran in today’s paper:

By Jimmy Durkin
SACRAMENTO — A stingy Sacramento defense shut down the East Bay’s potent offensive weapons to produce a 23-8 victory in Sunday’s Holiday Classic All Star football game at Grant High.
The East Bay managed just 157 yards of total offense, including a net rushing total of minus-10 yards.
“A lot of great defensive lineman,” East Bay coach Brian Hamilton of Concord said about Sacramento. “They did a great job.”
Concord’s Ricky Lloyd was forced out of the pocket most of the afternoon by the stiff Sacramento pass rush. The new owner of the Northern California single-season record for passing yardage was limited to 13 of 32 passing for 151 yards, two interceptions and one touchdown.
“The (Sacramento) d-line stepped it up and kind of threw us for a loop,” said the Southern Miss-bound Lloyd.
Sacramento led 10-0 when the East Bay scored its only points late in the second quarter. A fourth-down defensive pass interference called kept the East Bay’s drive alive and Lloyd found DeAndre Carter (Washington) in the back of the end zone for a 6-yard scoring pass. The same duo connected on the two-point conversion.
The opening kick off the second half spelled doom for the East Bay. George Atkinson III (Granada) fielded the kick and tried to hand off to his twin brother Josh Atkinson on a reverse, but the exchange was fumbled and Sacramento recovered.
That mistake was quickly converted into a 2-yard run by quarterback Dano Graves, who accounted for 85 touchdowns this season while leading Folsom to the California Interscholastic Federation Division II state title.
Sacramento scored again on its next drive on a 14-yard run by Quincy Forte (Vacaville) that put the game out of reach. Graves had a game-high 66 yards rushing on nine carries and also had a first-quarter touchdown pass to Mason Hastings (Pleasant Grove).
Among the East Bay highlights were interceptions by Antoine Pickett (De La Salle) and Trenton Trammell (Bishop O’Dowd). Carter caught five passes for 45 yards.
“The kids were great,” Hamilton said. “They were unbelievable. All the kids were ready to work. It’s a great tribute to all the coaches in the East Bay.”

Jimmy Durkin

Jimmy Durkin is a sports writer for the Bay Area News Group.