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NorCal-ranked No. 13 Jesuit Has High Expectations For 2021 Season That Begins With A Juggernaut; PLUS NorCal’s Five Biggest Games This Week • This... Jesuit Braces For Bulldogs | RETURN TO FALL Football Preview Series No. 17

NorCal-ranked No. 13 Jesuit Has High Expectations For 2021 Season That Begins With A Juggernaut; PLUS NorCal’s Five Biggest Games This Week •

This is the seventeenth of 20 installments to our Return To Fall Series — a daily component to our 2021 NorCal Football Preview coverage.

After a night off during the Sac-Joaquin Section’s opening week, Jesuit High begins its 2021 football season with an absolute mountain Friday.

The Marauders will travel to face a Folsom team that shellacked Monterey Trail-Elk Grove 56-14 on Aug. 20.

Jesuit knows the feeling all too well.

Folsom has beat Jesuit in 12 straight meetings with a combined scoring spread of 558-200 since Jesuit’s 35-21 Delta River League win over the Bulldogs in 2007.

Of course, it’s not like others have fared much better.

Since 2008, Folsom has went 163-16, winning seven SJS championships and four state titles. Four of those losses were to De La Salle, as SJS teams have beaten Folsom just 10 times in the last 13 years.

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To do it Friday, Jesuit will need extreme confidence that they can.

They need guys like senior lineman Nelson Hemmert.

Nelson Hemmert, Jesuit Football
Nelson Hemmert will be a key contributor on both lines for Jesuit this fall. (Ike Dodson photos)

“I’m a second-whistle type of player,” Hemmert said from the sideline of an Aug. 13 scrimmage with Whitney-Rocklin. “My best attributes are my hustle, getting to that second level and going through the whistle.”

Hemmert beat several double-teams during the scrimmage — the kind of highlight he promises all year.

“You are going to see me on film easily,” he said. “I’m going to pop out. You don’t have to look for my number, because you are going to see me making big plays — tackles for loss, sacks — I do it all.”

Hemmert said he wants to put a SJS championship ring on the finger of 10-year Marauder coach Marlon Blanton.

Blanton didn’t mention any rings, but he talked a lot about character and growth.

“I like where this team is going in terms of creating a team environment of hard work and care for one another,” Blanton said. “Our mantra is ‘men for others.

“It’s not always easy to make sacrifices and care for others outside of your family, but these guys are working to do that, so I can appreciate that.”

Environments on the grid will be built by two-way linemen like Hemmert, Evan Mayers, Josef Mokofisi and JP Leatherby. Expect to see Hemmert (6 feet, 2 inches, 275 pounds), Mokofisi (6-2, 295) or tight end Kai Wallin (6-5, 210) leading some walk-outs.

Jesuit is loaded at all skill positions.

Senior quarterback Preston Vukovich is back after throwing for 580 yards and seven touchdowns in four games last year. He has excellent targets in Wallin, Jackson Hagopian, Garrett McGriff, Reed Datwyler and Tatum Pappas, while the running game rolls on the legs of two-way star Kai Santos, Jagger Shaddix and Anthony Seibles.

Jesuit High (Carmichael) quarterback Preston Vukovich throws a pass during the Marauders’ Aug. 13 scrimmage at Whitney-Rocklin.

That group also shined on defense during the Whitney scrimmage and should make big plays as Jesuit fights for its first Delta League title since 2017 and fourth total since joining (and winning) the conference in 2002.

Big games against the likes of Folsom certainly prepares you for tough league games ahead.

“Our players understand that to be a really good team, you have to play really good teams,” Blanton said. “You get to find out where you are.

“We have an opportunity to find out right out of the gate.”

GAMES OF THE WEEK

In addition to No. 13 Jesuit traveling to No. 2 Folsom, we thought we’d highlight five other NorCal football games for the weekend of Aug. 27-28. All rankings are from the SportStars NorCal Top 20.

No. 4 Serra-San Mateo @ No. 3 Pittsburg
This is the crown jewel of the NorCal slate. There are not two more evenly-matched teams and the Division I-level talent on the field will be off the charts. If this isn’t a game that comes down to the last possession, we will be totally shocked. Get more insight on this game in the newest 7 Friday Night podcast episode when it releases on Wednesday.

No. 1 De La Salle-Concord @ No. 6 St. Mary’s-Stockton
There are more than a few Bay Area media members who believe this game could be a nail-biter for the Spartans. It’s hard to disagree. De La Salle has a number of new starters on offense, including QB Luke Dermon, and a road game against an experienced St. Mary’s roster is going to be a serious test.

No. 9 San Ramon Valley-Danville @ Vintage-Napa
On paper, the Wolves should be the favorites to win the East Bay Athletic League-Mountain Division (De La Salle does not factor for league title). With 15 returning starters, it’s hard not to like San Ramon Valley’s chances. But an overconfident team could absolutely fall prey to a Vintage team that is hungry to prove its 6-0 spring was no fluke.

No. 12 Edison-Stockton @ Oakdale
Edison turned a lot of heads in the 209 with its convincing 28-7 upset of preseason No. 10 Lincoln-Stockton last week. The Vikings won’t get to rest on their laurels, however. If they want to prove they’re the real deal, winning a game at The Corral would go a long way in doing so.

No. 17 Oak Ridge-El Dorado Hills @ No. 18 Vacaville
Both of these teams jumped up two spots from their preseason rankings after blowout wins in their openers. The Knights and Bulldogs are both tradition-rich programs with a good amount of experience back on both sides of the ball. The Oak Ridge defense vs. the Vacaville offense could be the key matchup of the night. Both offenses went for over 450 totals yards in their opening wins, but only one of the defenses posted a shutout.

Ike Dodson

Ike Dodson currently works as an information officer for California Correction Health Care Services. Prior to that he was an award-winning journalist with over 14 years of experience writing about the Sac-Joaquin Section.

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