Now that we’ve seen both Northern California powerhouses in person with an eye on what might happen when the two play in the CIF Northern California Open Division bowl game, here’s how the two compare:
Quarterbacks – Jake Browning is in the midst of compiling one of the best seasons by a prep QB ever. He is bigger, stronger, quicker running away from pressure and puts a lot more zip on his passes than last year. De La Salle’s Chris Williams can throw the occasional TD pass to keep defenses honest and has one more year of experience, too. Advantage: Folsom.
Running Backs – Both teams have a promising sophomore, DLS with Antoine Custer and Folsom with Tre Green. John Velasco’s emergence as that typical, hard-charging DLS back who breaks tackles and can find the end zone is one of the reasons this year’s team has been as impressive as ever. Advantage: De La Salle.
Receivers/Tight Ends – Troy Knox has more than 200 career catches for the Bulldogs, but all five who go out in the patterns are reliable, run great routes and rarely drop a pass. The Spartans have a player with game-breaking speed, however, in Marquis Morris that Folsom doesn’t have so Folsom’s advantage here is not as pronounced as one might think. Advantage: Folsom.
Offensive Line – This is one of the best offensive lines in DLS history, and that’s saying something. Larry Allen Jr. is 290 pounds, Drew Sullivan (a junior) is 315 and Sumner Houston (team’s top two-way linemen and headed for Oregon State) is 265. Folsom’s Cody Creason (6-4, 275), who started last year as a soph, continues to impress, and it’s a group more experienced than last year. Advantage: De La Salle.
Defensive Line – The addition of junior Khalil McKenzie (6-4, 315) and the continued improvement of sophomore Boss Tagaloa (6-3, 285) helps give DLS one of the best D-Lines in the nation. With Sumner Houston battling in there as well, it’s impossible for any opponent the Spartans will face to double-team one guy without someone else dominating. Folsom’s defensive line is quick and can plug up holes, but isn’t close to what the Spartans can throw at the opposition. Advantage: De La Salle.
Linebackers – When we saw DLS, Simba Short was injured and didn’t play. Folsom’s backers, meanwhile, showed they can cover ground and perhaps could have some success slowing down the Spartans’ running game. Junior Bailey Laolagi (6-1, 205) and senior Rodney Ellison (6-1, 205) lead that unit. In addition to Short, another top junior LB for DLS is Cameron Lissarrague (6-1, 216). This could be one aspect of comparison in which some might be surprised of our evaluation. Advantage: Even.
Defensive Backs – Again, when we saw DLS, Das Tautalatasi was injured and didn’t play. Even without him, the Spartans have Kevin Griffin (Washington State) on the corner and Jerek Rosales on the other side who both have showed they can make plays and come up and tackle on the run. Against Folsom, DLS probably drops a bunch of guys back and will look to create havoc by just rushing its front four (which the Spartans can probably do). Folsom’s DBs are a little like the receivers – experienced, solid, and don’t make mistakes. Advantage: De La Salle.
Special Teams – This is hard to evaluate because neither team punts and both kickers tend to put their kickoffs into the end zone. Against Folsom, the vaunted DLS return game probably wouldn’t come into play. Folsom kicker Ben Trumm has been better making PATs than either of the two kickers De La Salle has been using. If there was a game-deciding field goal to be made at the end, Trumm also might be better suited to make it than whichever kicker the Spartans would use. Advantage: Folsom.
Intangibles/Coaching – There will be no difference — even in as big a game as Folsom vs. DLS would be — with Justin Alumbaugh being at the helm for DLS instead of Bob Ladouceur. It’s a staff that’s used to these types of games and wins them almost all the time. Folsom is developing the same type of program, but will need to face reality when playing DLS and not go for it on every fourth down. Against that defense and that team, that philosophy will just kill you. We’re not sure Folsom will make that adjustment. Advantage: De La Salle.