by Mike Finnerty (email@example.com)
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There is something very familiar about the way Del Oro's season has played out to this point of the year.
In 2010, the Golden Eagles got out to a 1-3 start, and 2-4 through six games, but finished the season with an eight-game winning streak that was capped off with a 21-0 win over Oakdale in the Division III section championship.
This year, a very similar situation.
Del Oro started the season 0-4, but since that time the No. 15 seed Golden Eagles have won four straight and seven of their last eight games, including Friday night's 21-10 road win over No. 7 St. Mary's of Stockton in the second round of the Division II playoffs.
"Great game, our guys played hard," said Del Oro head coach Casey Taylor. "St. Mary's is a great team, great program. We had some chances in the first half to get on them and didn't take advantage of it. The second half, our line was playing awesome and Brandon (Monroe) just took over. He's been awesome for the last month."
Down 10-7 at the half, Monroe scored his second and third touchdowns of the night with runs of 32 and 11 yards that put the Golden Eagles up 21-10 with 25 seconds left in the third.
In the fourth, Monroe racked up yardage while chewing time off the clock, while the defense came up with several big plays.
On the game's opening drive by St. Mary's, the Rams were stopped on a goal line stand by Del Oro at the one-yard line. Early in the third, the Rams got the ball inside the five-yard line, but came away with only a field goal.
With rain falling in the second half, the big plays continued for Del Oro.
Safety Cody Otten intercepted a pass in Del Oro territory with just over three minutes to play, and then late in the fourth it was Dylan Kainrath with an interception that sealed St. Mary's fate.
"I'll tell you, our defense is getting better every week," said Taylor. "We don't want to quit. We want to keep playing and we're peaking at the right time. I look forward to practicing on Thanksgiving."
Monroe finished the game with 292 yards and three touchdowns with his usual mix of speed and power, something St. Mary's had no answer for all game long.
"We just felt we could wear them down," said Taylor. "We just stayed with the plan. We knew it would come down to the fourth quarter, hoping we could wear them out and take advantage of it. We had that great eight minute drive at the end, that I thought just really cracked it."
A two-way player for Del Oro, Monroe was quick to credit his teammates.
"Cody Otten and Dylan Kainrath made great plays, Tanner Woods, Dalton Hudek making great plays in the back field, so it really means a lot to us when our defense can go on the field and just play. It was a great job."
The win by Del Oro (7-5) sets up a semi-final meeting next week at Elk Grove (11-1), something Monroe is looking forward to.
"We know them a little bit. It's going to be a great game."