Lancers Romp Riles Up Homecoming Crowd

Story by Daniel Mano, Photos by Rick Sloan  |  2018-10-31

Lancers Romp Riles Up Homecoming Crowd


RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - What better way to entertain a packed house on Homecoming night than with the 77-13 rout the Cordova High School football team performed October 5 against Florin.

The Lancers lit up the scoreboard behind an explosive offense (364 yards on 22 plays) and a clamp-down defense (only seven first downs allowed and five forced turnovers).

“It was nice to actually get all cylinders clicking,” Lancers head coach John McCoy said. “We haven’t done that until tonight. We were able to run the ball some games, we were able to throw the ball some games – but tonight we were able to do everything.”

The victory brings Cordova to 3-5 overall and 2-0 in Greater Sacramento League play.

“Coming into the game, we knew they were going to be short-handed. Our thing was, we wanted to play against ourselves, not the level of competition,” Cordova assistant coach Charlie Ruiz said. “We wanted to reach our potential. … We did what we were supposed to do.”

Johnele Sanders finished 7 for 8 passing with 194 yards and two touchdowns through the air to go with three scores on the ground.

Alvin Banks caught four passes for 105 yards, including a screen pass he transformed into a 58-yard touchdown.

"We caught them on a blitz,” Ruiz said of that play. “Johnele just floated it over the defenders hands, we got a great block on the outside and Alvin did what he does. It was awesome.”

Jaylen Jones scored on runs of 22 and 26 yards while Raymond Fite had a 30-yard touchdown jaunt.

Sanders had touchdown runs from 33, 5 and 7 yards – that last one on 4th-and-inches.

“I’m excited because our main guys – Jaylen, Ray, Alvin, Johnele, Jeremiah – had great games,” Ruiz said.

Defensively, the Lancers allowed just 174 yards while creating opportunities with turnovers.

Dashawn Bradley hauled in a pair of interceptions while Dumaurier Hackett and Kelton Stevens both forced fumbles.

Jeremiah Bankett and Fite each scooped up fumbles and rumbled to the house, with returns of 48 and 55 yards respectively, and Trevor Dix recovered another fumble.

Andrew Turner and Elijah Jenkins each had sacks and Ki Allen blocked a punt.

Cordova has a bye October 12 before hosting Natomas in league play October 19.

For the Glory Days

Story by Trina L. Drotar, Photos by Rick Sloan  |  2018-10-31

Athletes, teams, and coaches have been honored in football, baseball, softball, tennis, track and field, swimming, cross country, golf, running, basketball, boxing, rugby, soccer, and mixed martial arts.

4th Annual Sports Hall of Fame Inducts Eight Women

RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) – The 4th annual Sports Hall of Fame inducted eight female athletes this year, the largest number yet, 46 years after the ground-breaking Title IX. Good Day Sacramento’s Ken Rudolph, Cordova High School alumni and self-proclaimed “Lancer for life,” returned as the sold-out event’s emcee.

                Shelly Blanchard, Cordova Community Council’s executive director, said that the event was “a true homerun, with more than 250 attendees and plenty of Cordova Lancer love.” It was, she added, a mix of awards event and Cordova sports reunion.

                Athletes, teams, and coaches have been honored in football, baseball, softball, tennis, track and field, swimming, cross country, golf, running, basketball, boxing, rugby, soccer, and mixed martial arts. Nominations come from the public and are reviewed by a panel of sports experts for recognition in three categories – athlete, coach, and heart of a champion.

                It’s the “Heart of a Champion” category that sets this hall of fame apart. This category, wrote Blanchard, recognizes and honors Rancho Cordova athletes like 2016 inductee Eppie Johnson, founder of Eppie’s Great Race which ended a 45 year tradition in January, “people who made huge contributions to local sports in other ways.”     

                John McFann, one of three inductees in this category, played baseball and basketball at Cordova High School but chose the Air Force over professional sports. McFann attained rank of three-star general, received numerous medals including Humanitarian Service and Distinguished Service medals.

                Thelma King, the lone woman in this category, coached soccer teams for Cordova High School and other groups beginning in the 1970s. First introduced to soccer while at Mather Air Force base, she passed her love and passion for the sport to numerous young women, including three generations in her family.

                One of the younger athletes is Angie Matheu, who was honored as “one of the most successful female swimmers to emerge from Cordova High.” She set records in butterfly, freestyle, backstroke, and relays, and she received the 2002 Athlete of the Year while at American River College.

                Hub Morphew is one of two coaches inducted this year. He spent nearly four decades coaching at Cordova High School and American River College. He had signed a professional baseball contract with the Orioles but decided basketball was more to his liking. He was inducted into the LaSalle Club Coaches and Officials Hall of Fame in 2014 and is currently enjoying retirement as is Dave Andreotti whose accomplishments include founding the Dusters youth track club and Cordova Rugby Club.

                This year’s athletes have competed in volleyball, softball, football, soccer, golf, basketball, track, pole vault, swimming, and baseball. The single baseball athlete is the 1984 Cordova High School baseball team. That year, the team was ranked as fourth best nationwide and first in California with a record of 35-5-1. Several team athletes went on to pursue professional sports careers.

                Basketball, football, and soccer were represented by the male inductees. David Crouse began as a Little League pitcher but soon found himself, because of his 6’10” height, playing basketball. He played professional basketball internationally for twelve years in numerous countries. Jeff Allen earned numerous awards, and played professionally for Miami Dolphins and San Diego Chargers, making a game-changing interception in a critical game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

                The eight women inductees include Kelly Crawford who played on Cordova High School’s golf team in 1981 and 1982 as the only female golfer and who made a name for herself in the world of golf. Ugo Eke, St. John Vianney School, and Bryson Stately, Cordova High School, share Olympic dreams. Eke set numerous records in track and hopes to represent Sierra Leone in the 2020 Olympics. Stately’s record includes a #2 nationwide ranking in pole vault, high school All-American in 2005, and she retains the record she set in the San Joaquin Section pole vault. She hopes to represent the U.S. in the 2020 Olympics.

                There was no particular effort by the Rancho Cordova Athletic Association or the jurors to select the women inductees, wrote Blanchard, saying that “the stars did align that way.”

                Since 1972 women in sports have gained more opportunities for development and in professional sports, which is where many of the hall of famers end up, she added, and the past quarter century has seen more accomplished female athletes in sports.

                “It’s a sign of the times that they are finding their way into the Rancho Cordova Sports Hall of Fame and other sports hall of fame recognition programs around the country.”

                For additional information, visit:

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Stingrays Swimming: Timing is Everything

By Jan Float  |  2018-04-27

May 5 is Time Trials, when all swimmers establish seed times for their first home meet against Arden Hills on May 12. Photo by Tom Jones

GOLD RIVER, CA (MPG) - It’s Showtime! The Stingrays are taking the plunge Back into the Water. Time to roll out the good times, set lofty goal times and streamline into new times. May 5 is Time Trials, when all swimmers establish seed times for their first home meet (aka Pool Party) against Arden Hills on May 12. Then the geared-up pendulum starts swinging into a full summer season. May Days are wind-the-clock days. Time keeps on tickin’, kickin’, flippin’ … into the future!

Swimmers, as individuals and a team, challenge themselves and shatter the clock. During this early time of the season, athletes often leap out of the pool, dropping whole seconds to dissolve in chlorine. Toward year’s end, in peak condition and competitive mode, races are cinched by 100ths of a second, far less than the blink of an eye. It’s about time!

Three years ago, the Stingrays invested in what’s called the wireless Colorado system, a mini-version of those seen at world-class levels. Red digital times pop up within nanoseconds of swimmers slamming into the wall and before they can whip their heads around to absorb results. A handy time tool during the adrenaline rush of a splash and dash.    

Because time is of the essence, parental-volunteer timers form a line at the finish of each lane and, with human precision, click their stopwatches. These backups are used in the rare event of a Colorado malfunction or as verification of a discrepancy or tie. When there’s a bonafide tie between two swimmers – watch out! Everybody gets wound up. Time for a race-off!  

Older swimmers are trained to count every stroke and every breath. In contrast to this photo (a 100-yard back tie-breaker), the duo is typically head for head. As the intensity swells, it’s inevitable: One will catch the other. Now you’ve got a serious duel in the pool, which ultimately comes down to the final technique, a seamless series of ingrained motion. A race-off never disappoints – always a breathtaking nail-biter. Time flies when you’re having fun.     

All dolphin-kick starts, turns, and finishes are critical … so much so that backups are added to backups, albeit oftentimes for different purposes. As Timing is everything, coaches grab their stopwatches and, while simultaneously viewing the Colorado, record teammates’ split times. Each lap counts; each swimmer reaches sky-high: “I’m so proud of my new personal best time, and ‘I Believe’ I’ll do even better next time!” For the coaching staff, these objective times are frequently called upon for split-second decisions.  

Rounding out May Days, on the 4th and 11th at 5:45, Gold River’s Mini-Rays are participating in their first two meets of the season. In previous years, they’ve swum in four. These mighty Minis work so hard and improve so much in their respective strokes (the 25 free and 25 back) that they’re being moved up next month into the Stingrays’ six-and-under age-group. You’re all encouraged to take a time out and watch them swim their hearts out. It’s showtime. Come on out and enjoy the show!  

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Cordova Softball Shuts Out Union Mine

By Rich Peters, MPG Editor  |  2018-04-20

Sophomore pitcher Alexis Wygand is 5-6 with a 4.58 ERA for the Lancers this season. Photo by Rick Sloan

RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - For the second day in a row the Lancers defeated an overmatched Union Mine team, shutting them out 8-0. A day prior, Cordova knocked out 23 hits in route to a 15-1 victory over the Diamondbacks to take game one of the series in dominant fashion.

Cordova (5-6, 2-4) kept those hot bats rolling in game two, led by a pair of hits from Cassie Rucker, Emika Love and Erica Jackson. The freshman Jackson also knocked in two RBIs on the day. Rucker and Love lead the team in hitting with .533 and .429 batting averages, respectively.

Sophomore Alexis Wygand threw a complete game shutout for the Lancers, allowing just five hits and one walk while striking out four along the way. She pitched a complete game and allowed only one run the day before, stifling the Diamondbacks two days in a row.

Ahead for the Lancers is a matchup with Vista del Lago on Friday, April 20. First pitch is at 7pm under the lights at Folsom Lake College. They follow that up with a double-header in Galt on Tuesday, April 24. Game one is set for a 1pm first pitch.

The Lancers currently sit in third place of the Sierra Valley Conference standings behind Liberty Ranch and Rosemont. Union Mine resides at the bottom of the pack with just a 1-6 record overall.

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Lancers Defeat Wolverines, Win Share of SVC Crown

By Mike Bush  |  2017-11-08

Members of the Cordova High School football team celebrate their 48-0 SVC finale win over rival Rosemont, as they keep the Sledgehammer that the two schools have battled for in recent years. Photo by Rick Sloan

RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) – Members of the Cordova High School football team will need to send the Union Mine squad Christmas presents or gift cards next month.

That is because Cordova will hoist up a second consecutive – and final – Sierra Valley Conference title. The Lancers posted their first shutout of the season against Rosemont, which led to a 48-0 win at Lancer Stadium on Nov. 3rd.

As Cordova was en route to its win, Union Mine jumped out to an early start that led to beat El Dorado 23-20. That win gave Cordova (4-1 in the SVC, 7-3 overall) and El Dorado (4-1 and 7-3) a share of the conference title. Cordova and El Dorado, along with Liberty Ranch, were tri-SVC champions last season.

“We were sweating that game out for sure,” said Cordova head coach Darren Nill, referring to the El Dorado-Union Mine game.

Now the Lancers begin the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs against a familiar non-league foe in Vista del Lago of Folsom. See elsewhere on this page for another story on Cordova’s second consecutive playoff trip.

Five minutes left in the first quarter against Rosemont (2-3 in the SVC, 4-6), Cordova scored its first touchdown when quarterback Johnele Sanders scored on a 33-yard run. Along with Alvin Banks booting the extra-point, the Lancers led 7-0.

The Lancers’ defense played a role in the team’s next two touchdowns, both in the second quarter. Cordova, face a Wolverines’ team that runs the veer offense, forced a turnover at midfield that gave the ball back into the Lancers’ hands. That led to wide receiver Jordan Colvin hauling in a 38-yard pass with 10 minutes left in the quarter, concluded with Banks’ extra-point boot to make it 14-0.

Banks, from his defensive back spot, set up the next score on an interception halfway through the quarter. Then he rambled 49 yards into the end zone that gave Cordova a comfortable 21-0 halftime lead.

“Alvin gets open when the rest of the team is performing,” said Nill of Banks. “The defense played lights out.”

Five minutes into the third quarter, Cordova’s defense forced Rosemont to punt. That led to another offensive possession and score for the Lancers, as Sanders scored on a 47-yard run to make it 28-0, plus Banks’ extra-point kick.

Then three minutes left in the quarter, Cordova made it 35-0 when running back Elijah Jenkins crossed the end zone on a rushing touchdown. The Rosemont coaches asked for a running clock at that time.

Two different Lancer players scored the final two touchdowns, both in the fourth quarter. Tyreke Tate scored the first one on a 37-yard run, followed by Kijon Allen on a 20-yard run. The extra-point kick missed but the score became 48-0.

Toward the end of the third quarter going into the fourth, Nill and his assistant coaches got all of the Lancer players into the game.

“Every single person played,” said Nill, who started rotating players after Rosemont asked for the running clock. “We knew we had to work extra hard to get everybody in the game, and we did.”

Sanders completed 8-of-16 passes for 104 yards and a touchdown. On the ground, he rushed for 103 yards on five carries.

“Johnele was just a nightmare running our game against Rosemont,” Nill said.

Cordova running back Raymond Fite had 89 yards rushing on eight carries, and had 122 all-purpose yards. Colvin had his one reception for 40 yards, and Banks, who had a combined 124 all-purpose yards, 3-38. Cordova had 422 overall yards; 318 rushing and 104 passing.

“When you have over 300 yards rushing, your offensive line is clicking,” Nill said.

On defense, Fite and Jenkins, who plays linebacker, had 13 tackles each. Outside linebackers Yusef Pugh followed with eight tackles, outside linebacker Ryan McMoore and defensive back Jaylen Jones and Colvin, who plays strong safety, had four each.

This was the last SVC football game for Cordova. Next July, Cordova, for all sports, will be one of six schools as members of the inaugural Greater Sacramento League, which the section created and approved through the section’s board of managers for the 2018-22 league realignment cycle earlier this year.

Other schools joining Cordova in the new league, which is Division IV, are Florin, Johnson, Valley and West Campus, all of Sacramento, and Natomas. The SVC drops to D-V, and adds Bradshaw Christian, which is in the Sierra Delta League that is D-VI, with El Dorado, Galt, Liberty Ranch, Rosemont and Union Mine.

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Lancers in Convincing Win

By Mike Bush  |  2017-11-03

Cordova running back Elijah Jenkins eyes the end zone against Liberty Ranch

Second Half Action Gives Cordova Win over Liberty Ranch

RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) – Darren Nill and his Cordova High School football team have beaten four of five Sierra Valley Conference schools in his three years.

Now the Cordova head coach, in his third seasons, is perfect at 5-0.

Donning pink and black jerseys in honoring Breast Cancer Awareness against SVC foe Liberty Ranch at Lancer Stadium on Oct. 27th, the Lancers broke away to post a convincing 47-28 win over the Hawks.

“I didn’t even think about it until I was walking across to share their (Liberty Ranch’s coaches) hands (after the game),” Nill said. “One of the assistant coaches came up to me and goes, ‘you guys aren’t going to be around to revenge this. This is the first time you’ve ever beaten us.’ We had a laugh and a hearty hand shake. Then it dawned on me that I got them all.”

Liberty Ranch won last year’s contest in Galt, 7-6. On its way to winning the SVC title in 2015, Liberty Ranch knocked off Cordova 28-26, also at Lancer Stadium.

The win inches Cordova (3-1 in the SVC, 6-3 overall) closer toward a Sac-Joaquin Section playoff berth.

Cordova still has a chance of winning a share of the SVC title. A win over rival Rosemont (2-2 in the SVC, 4-5) in Friday’s SVC finale at Lancer Stadium, plus a Union Mine (2-2 in the SVC, 4-5) win over El Dorado (4-0 in the SVC, 7-2) would give the Lancers and Cougars a share of the title for a second straight year. Cordova, along with Liberty Ranch and El Dorado, were tri-champions last year.

Liberty Ranch (1-3 in the SVC, 2-7) led 22-20 at halftime. But the Lancers took a 26-22 lead with 10 minutes left in the third quarter when quarterback Johnele Sanders completed one of his three touchdown passes.

Cordova free safety Tyreke Tate picked off a pass that went back to the end zone, which gave the Lancers a 34-22 lead with about a minute to go in the quarter.

Now in the fourth quarter, Liberty Ranch closed the score to 34-28 on a rushing touchdown. But in the final minutes of the game, Cordova added two more touchdowns for the final score. The first one came when Sanders hit Jordan Colvin on a 30-yard strike. Alvin Banks had a 50-yard run to the end zone to finish off the scoring.

The Lancers had chances to take advantage of Hawk mistakes in the first half. But that quickly changed in the second half.

“We talked about executing our offense (at halftime),” Nill said. “They (Liberty Ranch) had eight turnovers. We were able to capitalize on three of those eight turnovers. Basically, getting down to what we do, executing better.”

Cordova running back Raymond Fite had a big night on the ground, with 146 yards on nine carries and a touchdown. Sanders completed 10-of-22 passes for 156 yards and three touchdowns. Banks had four receptions for 75 yards, and rushed three times for 66 yards. He also had three interceptions in the game.

On defense, Lancer linebacker Jalen Jones led the team with 14 tackles, and outside linebacker Yusef Pugh 11. Turner and Elijah Jenkins, also a linebacker, had eight tackles each. Cordova’s defense created four fumble recoveries.

The Rosemont-Cordova game is scheduled to kick-off at 7:30 p.m.

Although leaving the SVC for the new Greater Sacramento League when the 2018-22 league realignment goes into place next July, Cordova will continue to play Rosemont in non-league next year and 2019, Nill said.

The section is projected to release playoff brackets on late Saturday afternoon. On Tuesday, MaxPreps had projected Cordova to be in Division III. To view the brackets on Saturday, visit the section’s Website –

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Cordova Lancers Handed First SVC Loss

By Mike Bush  |  2017-10-27

Cordova running back Alvin Banks (16) returns the kickoff, with assistance from lineman Jaizyn Phelp-Reis (55) in last week

PLACERVILLE, CA (MPG) – Chances came and went for the Cordova High School football team.

But in its big Sierra Valley Conference game at El Dorado, the Cougars came away with a thrilling 27-26 victory over the Lancers on Oct. 20th.

The painful loss still keeps Cordova (2-1 in the SVC, 5-3 overall) in the title race, but needs help to win a share of the title. El Dorado (3-0 in the SVC, closes out its regular season against SVC foes Galt (0-3 in the SVC, 3-5) and rival Union Mine (1-2 in the SVC, 3-5).

With 11 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Cordova scored its final touchdown of the game on the ground to cut the score to 27-26. Going for the 2-point conversion, the Lancers were unable to covert that left the Cougars hanging onto the slim lead.

As time ticked off the clock, the Lancers had the ball only one time, which they turned over on downs. El Dorado had possession two more times, although unable to find the end zone.

“They were using the maximum amount of clock time starting in the fourth quarter,” said Cordova head coach Darren Nill of the Cougars’ offense.

But mistakes late in the game were costly for the Lancers.

“We had nine defensive offside penalties,” Nill said. “Those nine jumps allowed them to prolong drives. Normally, they would’ve been punting away. We shot ourselves in the foot when we were on defense. We had a lot of missed snaps (on offense), quarterback exchanges, dropped balls. Basically, drive killers.”

Cordova lead 14-13 at halftime, scoring a touchdown in the first and second quarters. El Dorado scored its final two touchdowns in the third quarter before the Lancers’ defense kept the Cougars’ offense in check in the final quarter.

Offensively, the Lancers had 432 total yards; 279 rushing and 153 passing. Quarterback Johnele Sanders completed 6-of-12 passes for those 153 yards, and had 204 yards rushing.

Cordova running backs Chase Allen and Jaylen Jones had a rushing touchdown each in the game. Jordan Colvin had a scoring reception of 70 yards from Sanders.

On defense, four Lancers had double figures in tackles. Linebacker Elijah Jenkins had 18 tackles, followed by fellow backers in Ryan McMoore at 17, Yusef Pugh at 16 and defensive end Clifford Bright 10. Free safety Tyreke Evans and Jones, a defensive back, had seven each.

Cordova will play its final two SVC games at Lancer Stadium. The first one is this Friday, when Liberty Ranch (1-2 in the SVC, 2-6) pays a visit. The Hawks have lost their last two conference games by a combined six points, including a 35-33 loss to Rosemont in last week’s contest.

“I think Liberty Ranch will give us a great game,” Nill said. “They are just too good of a team. They’ve got a great coaching. I know they are going to come out and play. But we’re going to be at home. Nothing beats home cooking. Our guys are really going to be focused this week.”

Game time for Friday’s game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

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