Folsom (15-0) meets Oceanside (14-0) on Friday at 8 p.m. at the StubHub Center in Carson. The game will be broadcast live on Time Warner Cable’s TWC SportsNet in Southern California and on Comcast SportsNet California in Northern California. For a live stream go to: www.TWCcommunity.com.
By Devin Ugland
Special to CalHiSports.com
Co-head coaches Kris Richardson and Troy Taylor (2nd season as co-head coaches, 29-1 overall) and their team at Folsom won the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship over Tracy, 55-7, the beat previous 14-0 Grant of Sacramento, 52-21, in the Northern California Division I Regional Bowl Game.
Head coach John Carroll (26th season, 248-70-6 overall) and his team at Oceanside won the CIF San Diego Section Open Division championship, 20-13, over Helix. It was Oceanside’s first SD Section Open Division championship – lost the 2013 Open title game to Mission Hills, 36-14. The Pirates have won 15 San Diego Section titles with the most recent before 2014 coming in 2012. Thirteen of those 15 have been under Carroll. Oceanside then won the Southern California regional bowl game, 37-22, against Edison of Fresno.
League:Won Sierra Foothill League (6-0)
Regional: Defeated Grant of Sacramento, 52-21, in the Northern California Division I Regional Bowl game.
Cal-Hi Sports Top 25 overall state ranking: No. 3
Cal-Hi Sports bowl game ranking: No. 3 (Division I)
CIF Bowl History: This is Folsom’s second appearance in a CIF state bowl game. The Bulldogs defeated Serra of Gardena, 48-20, in the Division II title game in 2010. Folsom fell victim to De La Salle each of the two seasons prior to 2014 in the Northern California Open Division Regional.
Best Win: Folsom has yet to be tested this season, so its best win has to be considered the one to get them to the D1 State title game – a 52-21 breeze over Grant last week. The Pacers had the same record (14-0) that Oceanside now has.
Key Players: QB Jake Browning (6-2, 185, Sr., Verbal to Washington), RB Bryan Weldy (5-8, 195, Sr.), RB Tre Green (5-10, 180, Jr.), RB Roger Neal (5-9, 200, Jr.) RB/LB Bailey Laolagi (6-1, 205, Sr.), WR/LB Josiah Deguara (6-2, 190, Sr.), WR/DB Cole Thompson (6-0, 180, Sr.), WR/DB Jake Jeffery (6-0, 175, Jr.), WR/DB Parker Boone (6-2, 185, Sr.), WR/DB Jake Morgado (6-0, 175, Sr.), OL Cody Creason (6-4, 294, Sr., Verbal to Arizona), DE Lukas Hendricks (6-4, 207, Sr., Verbal to San Jose State), DE Sam Whitney (6-3, 225, Sr.), LB Sam Whittingham (5-11, 202, Sr.), LB Tyler Crandall (5-11, 185, Sr.), DB Calvin Gardner (5-10, 160, Sr.).
General Offense: When you have a four-star-ranked Pro-Style QB heading to Washington next year, you might as well go with a Pro-Style offense, which is exactly what Folsom does. Jake Browning can sling the ball around the yard as good as any quarterback in the nation. The senior has completed 333 of his 489 passing attempts for 5,351 yards with 85 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. Browning’s favorite target in the passing game, based on receptions, is Josiah Deguara who has 108 catches for 1,589 yards and 23 touchdowns. If Browning is looking for a big play, he’ll target Cole Thompson. Thompson leads the team in TD receptions (33) and receiving yards (1,655) on 75 receptions. Jake Morgado, Parker Boone and Jake Jeffery also see targets in the passing game. Folsom deploys a running back-by-committee approach with Bryan Weldy, Roger Neal, Tre Green and Bailey Laolagi. Weldy leads the Bulldogs with 99 carries for 670 yards, but Laolagi gets most of the goal-line scoring looks with 10 rushing TDs on the year.
General Defense: The Folsom defense is allowing just 10.6 points per game this season, due in large to the play of defensive ends of Sam Whitney and Lukas Hendricks. Whitney leads the team with 12 sacks, while Hendricks, a San Jose State-commit, has three on the year and leads the Bulldogs with 11 tackles for a loss. The linebackers are paced by Laolagi, Sam Whittingham and Tyler Crandall, who have 79, 97 and 97 tackles on the season, respectively. Parker Boone, Cole Thompson and Calvin Gardner anchor the defensive backs. Boone has four interceptions this year, Thompson and Gardner each have two.
Key Injuries: Folsom is in good health.
The Skinny: Oceanside will be Folsom’s most difficult test to date as the Bulldogs have beaten their opponents by a 56-10 average score this season. But when you have a quarterback as good as Browning and a defense as stout as the Bulldogs have, it’s probably best to just keep going about business as usual. MORE ON OCEANSIDE
League:Won Avocado League West (4-0)
Cal-Hi Sports Top 25 overall state ranking: No. 5
Cal-Hi Sports bowl game ranking: No. 5 (Division I)
CIF Bowl History: Oceanside won the 2009 Division I championship over Bellarmine Prep of San Jose. The Pirates also won the Division II title over Novato in 2007.
Best Win: The Pirates come in to the Regional Bowl game unscathed and seemingly getting better with each game. Oceanside’s best win to date came in the CIF San Diego Section Open Division championship game, 20-13, over a tough Helix team. The Pirates also defeated CIF Southern Section West Valley Division champion Mission Viejo in their second game of the season.
Key Players: QB Matthew Romero (6-2, 180, Sr.), RB Josh Bernard (5-11, 205, Sr.), WR Johnny Arzola (5-11, 170, Sr.), WR Isaia PaoPao (6-0, 185, Jr.), WR John Grumbling (6-1, 172, Sr.), WR/DB Jordan Miller (6-1, 170 Sr., Verbal to Washington), DE Amadeo West (6-2, 225, Sr.), DE Tommy Woo (6-2, 225, Sr., Verbal to Hawaii), OL Christian Cronk (6-4, 288, Sr., Verbal to Hawaii), OL Cedric Bigge-Duren (6-6, 307, Verbal to Washington State).
General Offense: Oceanside deploys a well-balanced attack between quarterback Matthew Romero and running back Josh Bernard. Romero has completed 178 of his 297 (62 percent) passing attempts for 3,001 yards – a 214.4 per game average. The senior has thrown 26 touchdown passes to 10 interceptions. Bernard has 234 carries on the season in which he has gained 1,491 yards and found the end zone 28 times on the ground. The senior is rushing for 106.5 yards per game on average and has run for over 100 yards seven times on the year. Johnny Arzola, a senior wideout, leads Oceanside in both receptions and yards at that position. Arzola has caught 54 passes for 808 yards and seven TDs. Isaiah PaoPao leads the team in touchdown receptions with eight. He has caught 36 passes for 578 yards on the year.
General Defense: In its 14 games this season, Oceanside is allowing opponents to score just over 14 points per game. The Pirates have two shutouts on the season (vs. Carlsbad and vs. Chaparral) and have held opponents to 10 points or less on four other occasions. Oceanside runs a 4-4 defense and the defensive line is anchored by Amadeo West, who has recorded 20.5 sacks on the year, and Tommy Woo, who is verbally committed to Hawaii. The one defensive back who is willing to take chances is Washington verbal-commit Jordan Miller. The senior has two interceptions on the season.
Key Injuries: Oceanside is without talented middle linebacker Marcus Lau Young who was lost with a season ending injury. Tommy Woo also is questionable for this week with a shoulder injury.
The Skinny: Oceanside hasn’t seen an offense as powerful or a defense as stingy as the ones that Folsom is bringing to StubHub Center. Can the Pirates limit Browning in the pass-game? That will most likely be the key for Oceanside to come away with a win.
Devin Ugland covers USC men’s basketball and football for TrojanSports.com. He has previously written for the Orange County Register, Long Beach Press-Telegram and Daily Pilot. You can reach him via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @Devin_Ugland.