A Host Of Playmakers Have Combined With Standout Line Play To Form One Of NorCal’s Best Offenses And Made Grant A Late-Season Force
PICTURED ABOVE: Grant leading rusher, Wayshawn Parker, runs in the open field during the Sac-Joaquin Section Div. III final against Woodcreek-Roseville. (David Gershon photos)
The same Grant football program that captured state football titles in 2008 and 2022 is back in bowl business.
New division, same great program.
The Pacers (12-2) travel from their Sacramento campus to Saddleback College in Mission Viejo this week for the California Interscholastic Federation Division 2-AA state bowl game against La Serna-Whittier (12-3). Kickoff is set for Friday at 4 p.m.
“The staff and kids are all excited,” Grant coach Carl Reed said Thursday. “It’s a unique experience and an exciting time for our history.”
It’s also a matchup of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 3 champions and the Southern Section Division 4 champions.
The game represents the third CIF title appearance for a program that won the first-ever CIF Open Division title, a 25-20 victory over Long Beach Poly in 2008. Grant returned to CIF glory last year, winning the Division 3-AA bowl game over San Jacinto, 36-34, in Del Paso Heights.
Grant’s 2023 path included a second-place finish in the Metropolitan League (they lost 35-34 to champion Monterey Trail-Elk Grove), before a dominant postseason run.
After a 41-14 shellacking of Rocklin in the NorCal regional, Grant has now outscored playoff foes by a remarkable 205-42 margin.
“Our lines have been lights out, and that O-line has a lot of young kids in there,” Reed said. “Our big time playmakers have also been making big time plays.”
Washington State-bound senior Wayshawn Parker is closing in on 2,000 rushing yards this year, with 516 coming in four playoff games (eight touchdowns). He also caught six balls for 60 yards in the win over Rocklin. Parker’s backfield mate, UNLV commit Devin Green, has 427 yards and nine scores of his own across the same postseason stretch.
First-year varsity quarterback Luke Alexander is also enjoying a sharp playoff run, completing 50 of 73 passes for 867 yards, 11 touchdowns and two interceptions. Oregon commit Kingston Lopa has added 331 receiving yards and seven scores this postseason, and he also has four postseason interceptions on defense.
La Serna, winner of 10 straight, scored 27 consecutive fourth-quarter points to top Orange Vista-Perris in the Southern California regional last week to make its first-ever bowl appearance. The Lancers plow upfield in a hybrid wing-T offense that looks similar to Grant’s latest opponents, especially longtime wing-T power, Oakdale.
“I think it’s a good matchup,” Reed said. “We looked into it, and it’s a culmination of everything we have faced in the playoffs — triple option, wing-T, spread, power zone.
“They do it all.”
La Serna is led by senior quarterback CJ Ceron, who passed for 191 yards and rushed for another 192 with three total touchdowns against Orange Vista. Leading rusher Owen Long, who is committed to Idaho, has 677 all-purpose yards and 10 touchdowns this postseason.
“They got athletes out there,” Reed said. “First and foremost, the O-line has got to play tough and our top playmakers on offense have to continue in that role while our defense makes our assignments, shutting down the run and containing their quarterback, who is pretty elusive.
“Right now it’s our culture and our pride of being a Pacer, because we had a goal of competing for section and NorCal championships and this is the final piece of that puzzle.”