Placer High football takes on the entire area

Story by Kerry McCullough, News Editor

The Colfax-Placer rivalry will reach its climax for the 2011 year Friday night at the LeFebvre Stadium; the two football teams will compete for an undefeated record in the PVL. The bitter rivalry, however, is not a Placer High School tradition. The short-lived feud was triggered by the foundation of the Pioneer Valley League five years ago but Placer has a proud history flecked with rivalries.

Bernhard Peat, Placer graduate of 1974 and grandfather to Placer’s current football star Eddie Vanderdoes, recalled that the rival school when he was in high school was Nevada Union. The same rivalry would continue into later years.

Dan Wilson, Placer’s current Technology Coordinator, graduated from Placer in 1987. As an involved athlete who represented Placer on the football field, Wilson was directly influenced by rivalries of the times.

“The sports outlook when I was in high school was very similar to the attitude we have today,” commented Wilson. “We have local schools that we love to compete against and the nearby schools are our rivals.”

Placer participated in the Capital Athletic League along with Grant, Del Campo, San Juan, Bella Vista, Casa Roble, and rival of the times Nevada Union; the CAL was the toughest league in the area.

“There were more fights, more vandalism, and the students were vicious when it came to rivalries; the rivalry games always brought out the best and the worst in us,” added Wilson. “To this day Nevada Union bothers me! Because of that intense rivalry we had in High school, many alumni don’t like the football team’s new; they resemble NU’s.”

“The sports attitude was just as competitive when I went to high school,” explains Placer teacher and coach, Tony Camillucci, “maybe even more so. School sports were the only sports; there were no club teams so the sports at school were the only sports we really had.”

Camillucci, a Colfax graduate-class of 1985, made the Kendall Arnett All Tournament Team in 1984 and 1985 along with fellow Placer teacher Scott Barry.

“Our rivals were Golden Sierra and Lincoln,” added Camillucci. “My high school friends that teach at Colfax call me a traitor; I feel Colfax’s rivalries from a different side now.”

Varsity football coach Joey Montoya is a Placer alum as well; also a former football player, Montoya took part in the 1997 Placer-Del Oro rivalry

“It was a pure hatred on everybody’s part,” said Montoya. “It was fueled by the teachers and the coaches; we loved it. And it wasn’t just football, it was all sports; we had rallies whenever we played DO and thousands of people would show up at the games.”

As a current coach and teacher at Placer High, Montoya admitted that the emotions that are fueled by the rivalries are more recurrent: “A piece of me still holds on to those past rivalries but I am starting to grow out of it.”

Now that Del Oro and Nevada Union no longer compete in the same league as Placer, the Hillmen have targeted the Colfax Falcons and the Bear River Bruins. With a win against the Bruins, Placer’s football team is looking to fight off another PVL rival Friday night; coach Montoya added that he believes the Falcons are taking the lead over the Bruins for the more heated competition.

“Competing against our rivals gets us really amped up,” said senior volleyball player Michaela Leonard. “ It’s a pride thing; we can’t lose to Colfax.”

Placer’s volleyball team beat the Colfax Falcons in the Earl Crabbe Gym two weeks ago; the football team will have to do the Lady Hillmen justice for their impressive 3-game shutout. The boy’s soccer team also defeated the mighty Colfax Falcons last week; both the volleyball team and the soccer team have chances at the PVL Title and the impressive display of Hillmen pride has left the school wanting another win on the football field and maybe an eventual claim to the league title.

Senior football player Johnny Foley stated: “Playing our rivals gets us more excited. The team needs to stay focused because small mistakes can have big consequences.”

Competition with Del Oro and Nevada Union may not have the immense craze they used to but they have significant importance to many Placer alumni who still savor the chances to have at their past rivals. Placer’s rivals have changed but the competitive spirit still lives on. The Hillmen take to the Le Febvre Stadium tonight at 7:30 to face off against Placer’s current rival: the Colfax Falcons.