Burbank's dream of an undefeated season came to a halt on Saturday afternoon in a 24-6 loss to one loss Oak Ridge. The Trojans used a balanced offense and dominating defense to advance to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I finals against Granite Bay.
This game was played predominantly between the tackles as both teams attempted to dominate with the guys up front. The major difference as the game went on was that quarterback Jason Samuels of Oak Ridge did a good job with play fakes and getting outside the pocket to make big plays in the passing game. His favorite target was tight end Ross Dwelley, who caught six balls for 66 yards and a score. The game was scoreless after the first quarter before the Trojans scored 17 points in the second to take a lead into halftime. Burbank continued with their game plan to run the football, but the Trojans stuffed the run both on the dive as well as the pitch. Oak Ridge head coach Eric Cavaliere said after the game "we had a great defensive game plan going in, but it was all predicated on the players executing and they did all we asked of them."
The Trojans finished the game with 146 yards rushing and 143 yards passing. This balanced attack kept Burbank on its heels and the chains moving. Oak Ridge had three runners with at least 46 yards led by fullback Tanner Hughes with 51. The offensive line, led by center Kareem Ballal and tackle Hekoti Chapman, kept Samuels upright and allowed him the time to roll out and convert key third down passes to keep drives alive and Burbank's offense on the sideline. The offensive line's plan was to cut block the bigger line of Burbank and either beat them with quickness or give additional time to Samuels.
On defense, the Trojans plugged up the middle with Jacob Proul and allowed linebacker Nick Gordan to shed blocks and make numerous tackles at and behind the line of scrimmage. Oak Ridge pressured Titans quarterback Ernest Jenkins with eight sacks. Five of those came from Zack Claiborne, who came into the game with 20.5 sacks. He does it with great technique and a high motor. Fittingly the game's last play was a sack by Claiborne.
All year, the Titans have relied on the big play in the rushing game. This wasn't the case on Saturday. Burbank had two turnovers, but was on the wrong end of field position all day. Standout performances for the Titans were linebacker Sateki Polaulu who led the team in tackles all season as well as today and center Simione Vialea. Vialea showed great agility to be able to get to the next level on blocks but most of the pressure was coming from the outside, which nullified his actions. Polaulu diagnoses plays very well and uses his athleticism to get to the point of attack.
Next up for Oak Ridge is a very hot Granite Bay team that has averaged more than 48 points per game in the playoffs. They have two common opponents (Vacaville, Rocklin) and swept both.