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ELK GROVE - After three straight seasons with 12 wins, coupled with a rich, winning tradition, the Elk Grove Thundering Herd are accustomed to preseason hype and high expectations.

And to see the program heading into another season under head coach Chris Nixon, with a senior class he's been salivating over for the past few seasons, this season is worthy of all that attention.

The Sacramento Bee listed Elk Grove as the second ranked program in the metro area, trailing only the Folsom Bulldogs.

"I'm really excited this year," Nixon told News10. "(I'm) very happy to be with this group because we've got a great group of leaders."

A glimpse into a preseason practice with the Elk Grove Thundering Herd, who are worthy of the hype as one of this season's top teams. News10/KXTV

The Elk Grove program over the years has been known for their running game, with recent stars Robert Frazier and Deon Ransom starring at the running back position, who have now moved on from high school. This year, they'll be more of a drop-back passing team, looking to airing it out much more than in previous years.

Much like Folsom just two years ago, Nixon will hand the reins over to a sophomore quarterback in Tyler Vander Waal, who was thrown to the fire a little bit last season as a freshman. Unlike most quarterbacks, and exactly like Folsom's Jake Browning, he will play exclusively at the quarterback position.

Nixon compared Vander Waal as a passer and his size, standing 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, to a gunslinger like former Elk Grove quarterback Ryan Dinwiddie - who starred at Boise State and spent a few seasons in the NFL.

Elk Grove is historically known for having one of the area's better defenses and this year should be no different. Their sizable line and quick line backers, coupled with speedy oozes with varsity experience.

Look out for seniors Spencer Sheff, a dominating running back and linebacker, as well as Shaunard Harts at the receiver and defensive back position.

Elk Grove will open the season in Zero Week, Aug. 29th as one of the Honor Bowl games held at Del Oro High School in Loomis, where they will face Damonte Ranch from Reno, NV.

Follow Sean Cunningham on Twitter: @News10Sean

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