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New minor league football team ready to hit Placer County

Home games to be held at Del Oro High; roster features former Denver Bronco
By: Matthew Kimel, Journal sports editor
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Good news, foothill football fans.

There’s no reason to wait until the fall to catch some local pigskin action. A new team has formed in Placer County — and its season kicks off next week at Del Oro High School in Loomis.

The Delta Ducks, a newly formed minor league team in the Pacific Coast Football League, host the Central Coast Barnstormers Saturday, March 23 at Golden Eagle Stadium for a 5 p.m. showdown.

The team, which formed after the Placer County Bears and River City Gators merged, has dubbed its opener as Golden Eagle Appreciation Night. All Del Oro students, with a school ID, will get into the game for just $1.

Tickets for the contests cost $8 for those ages 13 and up and $6 for seniors and military members. Kids 12 and under get in free.

Defensive coordinator and co-owner Josh Bradley, who was the head coach when the Bears won a national title in 2010, said the Ducks are looking pretty good this season.

“They’re definitely the most talented team I’ve ever been a part of,” he said. “Our line is huge all the way across. Our defense looks solid and our QB is returning.”

The team features a couple of Placer County high school products and Grant High’s Syd’Quan Thompson, who played cornerback for the NFL’s Denver Broncos in 2010.

“He’s Shaq Thompson’s brother,” Bradley said, referring to another Grant star, who now plays football at the University of Washington. “(Syd) was drafted by the Denver Broncos, but had an Achilles injury. His agent told him to get some film. I’m sure he’ll be going to a tryout this NFL season.

“He’s most definitely one of our best players. His experience, the stuff he can do out there is amazing. He’s one of the top players.”

Locals on the team include free safety Chris Dupont (Granite Bay High), defensive lineman Brian Harrell (Roseville High) and linebacker Brandyn McCary (Nevada Union).

While none of the players get paid, they enjoy their time on the gridiron and it also gives them exposure.

Bradley said scouts for arena football, the Canadian Football League and college teams often visit practices looking for talent to bring to the next level.

“A lot of guys out there use this as a stepping stone,” he said.

The Ducks, who just trimmed their roster from 96 players to 60, will be coached by Frankie Machado, a Lincoln High grad.

With the Bears and the Gators merging into one squad, Bradley believes the Ducks can compete against some of the better squads around.

“We definitely wanted to try and put together the most talented football team in the Sacramento area so we could compete at the national level even though Bears won a national title,” he said.

After Saturday’s home opener, the Ducks play two more consecutive 5 p.m. Saturday games before hitting the road. Technically, the Pacific Coast Football League’s season starts on March 16, but the Ducks have a bye. The league schedule goes through June 1, with the Bears playing five road games and two more in Loomis on April 20 and May 4.

For more information on the Ducks, visit deltaducksfootball.com.

Reach Matthew Kimel at matthewk@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter@matthewkimel