Small Community of Rio Linda Makes Big Splash as Knights Reach Title Game

RIO LINDA -- The high school state championship football games are this weekend and the Rio Linda Knights will be hosting its game on Saturday.

Rio Linda's population is just over 15,000. Its residents are spread out over only about 5 square miles.

"Everybody knows everybody here," said resident John Todd. "And if you're not immediately related to somebody, you know, if you throw a stick in any direction, you're going to hit somebody you either know or are related to."

But for what the community lacks in size, it makes up for in pride, especially when it comes to the Knights football team.

"We have that saying, 'Once a Knight, always a Knight,' and it really kind of rings true. And it's kind of a town sense as well," said head coach Jack Garceau.

"The community and the football they're into the sports," said Knights fan Kathy Adams. "But the football is their pride and joy. So to make it this far, yeah."

Saturday night's state championship game is against San Gorgonio High School out of San Bernardino.

"We've not always had the best reputation, so something like this that brings some attention to the ... the focus is on the good happening in our community," Todd told FOX40. "The rising tide raises all boats, you know. It's going to be good for all of us."

Rio Linda has had some big-time individuals make it to the top of the sporting world in the past.

Darren Oliver pitched for the Knights before pitching in the World Series for the Texas Rangers. Jeff Gordon may have been from Vallejo but he learned how to race on Rio Linda's Quarter Midget dirt track before becoming a four-time Nascar champion.

"Jeff Gordon is an unofficial member of the Rio Linda, Elverta community. He is one of our favorite sons," Todd said.

But nothing compares to this weekend's game. Just ask the coach, who has been fielding a lot more requests than usual this week.

"Tickets, hats, shirts, 'Can I get those? How do I get a field pass and all that stuff?' It's kind of one of those things where you have to back up and direct them to somebody else," Garceau said.

They are expecting a crowd of around 4,000 for Saturday's game. Kick off is at 6 p.m.