Thursday, October 1, 2015


Grant's DeShawn Collins has run wild on defenses this year for the undefeated Pacers. He figures to carry the load once again for Grant's huge city showdown with Elk Grove on Friday, Oct. 2 (photo contributed). 
It’s a heavyweight showdown in the state capitol, as the battle of Sacramento supremacy takes place between Elk Grove and Grant.

While the Thundering Herd lost last year’s meeting to Grant 26-19, Elk Grove has taken the last three of four meetings. This year’s game will likely feature lots of punishing runs and two-headed backfields.

Here’s a breakdown:

ABOUT THE THUNDERING HERD: Elk Grove has had four lopsided victories to start the year, with all of its games decided by 31, 27, 34 and 55 points.

A powerful running attack is the reason behind Elk Grove’s scoring outburst. The Herd is averaging 283.5 rushing yards per game and has scored 15 touchdowns through the ground game. Leading the charge is senior Ryan Robards and his 756 yards with 10 touchdowns. He’s also an ace in the classroom with a 3.8 grade point average. Fellow senior Julius Fullah provides depth in the EG backfield with 246 yards and four touchdowns. He's also one of EG's top cover cornerbacks on defense. 

On the receiving end, junior Gavin Reinwald is EG’s go-to-guy with team high’s in catches (13), yards (230) and touchdowns (three).

In the trenches, big 6-foot, 265-pound senior Lau Ta’amu sets the tone on both lines. At guard, Ta'amu is reliable on pulling plays where he removes the outside threat away from the running back. Defensively, he leads EG with three sacks and has 18 total tackles. 

The EG secondary has nine interceptions so far this year. 

ABOUT THE PACERS: With the exception of the 21-14 nail biter against Bullard (Fresno) on Sept. 12, the Pacers have also enjoyed one-sided victories en route to a 4-0 start.

Like EG, Grant relies on two backs to take the oxygen away from defenses. Leading the way is national recruit DeShawn Collins. Forget about the senior’s 5-foot-9, 190-pound frame, Collins is a lightning bolt when he sees an open hole and is one of the hardest running backs in the state to catch up to. Not only that, he's improved his power, proven by bulldozing two defenders at the 14 second mark of his senior film. He currently holds a Northern Colorado offer and has had Ivy League schools asking about him. He leads Grant with 756 yards and nine rushing touchdowns.

Spelling Collins is fellow senior Michael Green II, who is second on the Pacers with 370 yards and four touchdowns. The main lead blocker for the Grant running game is guard Soape Tupou, who got offered by UCLA in February 2015.

Tupou also anchors the defensive line with his 6-foot-4, 300-pound frame. Defensive end David Moala leads the pass rush with four sacks.

BEST MATCH UP: Ryan Robards versus Soape Tupou. Whoever gets the better of this running back/defensive lineman duel will likely open things up for their unit. Tupou has made his living on defense by feasting on running backs, while Robards wears down the trenches with his running.

DON’T SLEEP ON: LAWRENCE HARDY. The 5-foot-9, 160-pound junior gets plenty of touches at wide receiver, running back and as a return ace for Grant. He has 230 all-purpose yards through four games.

GAME INFORMATION: Kickoff is 7:15 p.m. at Grant High School. 

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