In a span of eight days, in its two biggest games of the season, the Sonora High School football team will have faced opponents that could hardly be more different in style of play.
Last Friday, the Wildcats went toe-to-toe against bludgeoning, straight-forward Oakdale in the Valley Oak League championship game. They beat lumps all over the Mustangs, but were left with numerous welts themselves in a 9-0 loss.
Tomorrow, they'll probably feel more like they're in a chess match than a wrestling match when they meet Oakmont in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. on the Oakmont campus in Roseville.
Which type of team is more difficult to play against?
"Those big, physical, running teams (like Oakdale) are tough," Sonora coach Cendro said. "Oakmont is much more of a finesse team. They don't try to play smashmouth with you."
Instead, Oakmont goes for the quick strike with its passing game before it tries to hammer the ball between the tackles with its running game.
Sonora (6-3-1) falls somewhere in between Oakdale (9-1) and Oakmont (8-2) in terms of brutishness, but its first option is the go straight at the opposing defense with junior fullbacks Louis McColloch and Tony Reynosa behind 610 pounds' worth of senior guards in Joel Johnson (335) and Joe Harris (275).
Even when they go outside with their off-tackle or option-pitch plays, the Wildcats are looking to put more big bodies in a given area than the opponent has. Then the speed and shiftiness of backs like Bryann Turner and Zeke Delgado take over.
Both types of running set up the play-action passing of quarterback Jeff Hess to wide receivers Rob Hoyt and Nick Baker. Sonora has been using more screens of late, too, looking to shake Turner free with numerical mismatches.