State Coach of Year: Kris Richardson

The spotlight has been on head coach Kris Richardson and his program at Folsom for the past 10 years and should be even brighter in 2018. Photo: Mark Tennis.

With a team thought to be a year from being dominant, Folsom’s Kris Richardson built a squad that finished 16-0 for the second time in four years and won the CIF Division 1-AA state title. He wasn’t by himself, but this time there was no co-coach and there isn’t much doubt who should get the most credit for the Bulldogs’ amazing run of state records and state titles in the last 10 years.

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Maybe it should have happened before, but for the first time a coach who is from a team that finished 16-0 with a CIF state championship also is being honored as the Cal-Hi Sports State Coach of the Year.

That coach is Kris Richardson of Folsom, who pushed the Bulldogs to their second 16-0 record in the last four years after they won the CIF Division 1-AA state title with a 49-42 triumph late last month over Helix of La Mesa.

Part of the reason there hasn’t been a 16-0 State Coach of the Year is that by policy a coach can only be State Coach of the Year once and in 2015 that was why Mission Viejo’s Bob Johnson wasn’t named. Santa Ana Mater Dei’s Bruce Rollinson also has been selected before and since 2012 when Concord De La Salle’s Bob Ladouceur retired with just one State Coach of the Year honor the precedent has been clearly set.

Folsom’ co-coaches Troy Taylor & Kris Richardson raise 2014 CIF state title plaque. Photo: Mark Tennis.

Besides, as it’s been discovered many times in many years and not just in football, there is almost always more than one very deserving candidate in the entire state who doesn’t yet have their name added to the all-time State Coach of the Year list, which goes back more than 100 years.

“That’s awesome,” Richardson said on Friday when informed of the honor. “I really appreciate it.”

Richardson becomes the fourth State Coach of the Year from the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section since 2008, following Mike Alberghini of Sacramento Grant (2008), Mike Papadopoulos of Vacaville (2011) and Ernie Cooper of Granite Bay (2012). You have to go back to 1982 for Tracy’s Wayne Schneider to find one before that.

This year’s 16-0 record and state title for the Bulldogs in one sense was not expected because so many of the players were juniors and sophomores, including first-year starting QB Kaiden Bennett. But with Bennett and junior wide receiver Joe Ngata (named last week as the Sacramento Bee’s Player of the Year) having huge seasons, the offense was as explosive as ever.

“We knew we had explosive skill players, but the key as to how well we were going to do depended on how well our offensive line played and how well our defense played,” Richardson said. “We kept getting better and better, kept improving and by the end we were a great football team.”

Folsom and Richardson completed a 16-0 record the first time in 2014. That was when the Bulldogs were led by quarterback Jake Browning, who shattered state and national records and finished with 92 touchdown passes. The team’s first of three CIF state titles was won in 2010 when it avenged an earlier loss to Grant in the section finals and then topped Serra of Gardena for the CIF D2 state championship.

At the section level, Folsom has dominated with titles in 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and now this season. Richardson’s record heading into next season is 132-25-1. That includes two seasons when he was co-head coach with current University of Utah offensive coordinator Troy Taylor. In co-coaching situations, the one considered the coach of record by the school gets the win since there’s no half-wins, half-losses and no two wins.

Richardson is flanked by Jonah Williams (left) and his son, Kooper. Photo: Paul Muyskens.

“Troy was the head coach from 2002 to 2004 and when he took the Cal radio job he couldn’t do both,” Richardson recalled. “He could still work in the classrooms for us and then came back for those two seasons as co-coach. We both knew his ultimate goal was to get a college job.”

The beginning of the Folsom dynasty, however, actually took some time to get going. Before Richardson’s first season in 2005, the Bulldogs were about as average as a program could be with seemingly endless 6-5, 4-6 seasons. In fact, Richardson lost his first section playoff game 54-10 to Elk Grove.

Folsom’s 2008 team was the one that started to turn things around. The Bulldogs finished 9-2 and lost a heart-breaker to Del Oro of Loomis 45-42 in the section playoffs.

“We started to really chuck it around with the passing game in those years and realized that would be best for us,” Richardson said. “Then we started lining up some very good quarterbacks, beginning with Cary Grossert, then David Graves and then Dano Graves.”

Making the journey more memorable for Richardson is that in recent years he’s been able to coach his two sons, Kooper and Kaden. Kooper played alongside current University of Alabama standout Jonah Williams on the 2014 team and is now playing at UC Davis. Kaden started as a junior last season and will be a senior next season. Richardson and his wife, Kelly, also have a daughter, Katie, who is usually on the sidelines with her dad. All of the Richardsons also have a middle initial that starts with the letter M.

Folsom actually has had a State Coach of the Year before in 1992 when Tom Doherty guided the Bulldogs to a section title and 13-0 record. That was for the small schools category. Doherty later became the school’s athletic director and consistently pushed Richardson through the coaching ranks.

“Tom was instrumental in me getting the job at Folsom,” Richardson said. “I started out as a 25-year-old kid just looking to break in and I started out as a substitute teacher in the district. Tom then got me my first PE teaching job.”

Doherty is now retired and is an active member of a local Corvette club. So if you see a guy around Sacramento driving a Corvette with a big smile on his face, that might be Doherty thinking about what he helped create at Folsom.

Congratulations to Coach Richardson and to his staff as well for his selection as State Coach of the Year. Bobby Fresques has effectively taken over much of the roles that Taylor previously had while Sam Cole as defensive coordinator also has been outstanding. Rounding out the staff for 2017 were Chris Parry (RB Coach), Doug Cosbie (WR/TE Coach & a former NFL player), Jim Noble (LB Coach), Tim McCandless (DB Coach), Ty Wilson (Special Teams Coordinator), Rob Lobese (DL Coach), Jay Reddic (Defensive Backs) and Brad Qualls (Wide Receivers).

Cal-Hi Sports State Coach of the Year
All-Time Honor Roll
(All selections by
(Based on research by the late Nelson Tennis, our founder, prior to 1979)

Last year’s honoree was Dave White, who retired after a successful career at Edison of Huntington Beach. Photo: Ronnie Flores.

2017 — Kris Richardson (Folsom) 16-0
2016 — Dave White (Edison, Huntington Beach)
2015 — Mike Janda (Bellarmine, San Jose) 13-2
2014 — Kurt Bruich (Redlands East Valley) 15-1
2013 — Ed Croson (Chaminade, West Hills) 14-2
2012 — Ernie Cooper (Granite Bay) 13-3
2011 — Mike Papadopoulos (Vacaville) 13-1
2010 — Earl Hansen (Palo Alto) 14-0
2009 — Jim Benkert (Westlake, Westl. Vill.) 14-0
2008 — Mike Alberghini (Grant, Sacramento) 14-0
2007 — Ed Buller (Oak Grove, San Jose) 12-1
2006 — Bob McAllister (Carlsbad) 10-0-2
2005 — Harry Welch (Canyon, Canyon Country)
2004 — Matt Logan (Centennial, Corona) 13-1
2003 — Steve Grady (Loyola, Los Angeles) 11-3
2002 — Kevin Rooney (Notre Dame, Sherman Oaks) 14-0
2001 — Bob Johnson (Mission Viejo) 14-0
2000 — Jerry Jaso (Poly, Long Beach) 14-0
1999 — Mike Herrington (Hart, Newhall) 14-0
1998 — Randy Blankenship (Clovis West, Fresno) 12-1
1997 — John Beam (Skyline, Oakland) 12-0
1996 — Dave Silveira (Alhambra, Martinez) 13-0
1995 — Larry Welsh (Atascadero) 14-0
1994 — Bruce Rollinson (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) 14-0
1993 — John Barnes (Los Alamitos) 14-0
1992 — Mark Paredes (Bishop Amat, La Puente) 15-0
1991 — Herb Meyer (El Camino, Oceanside) 13-1
1990 — Pat Preston (Bakersfield) 13-0
1989 — Dick Bruich (Fontana) 14-0
1988 — Norm Dow (Live Oak, Morgan Hill) 11-0-1
1987 — Bennie Edens (Point Loma, San Diego) 13-0
1986 — Bob Ladouceur (De La Salle, Concord) 12-0
1985 — Charlie Wedemeyer (Los Gatos) 13-1
1984 — Tim Simons (Clovis) 12-0-1
1983 — Ron Calcagno (St. Francis, Mountain View) 13-0
1982 — Wayne Schneider (Tracy) 12-1
1981 — Marijon Ancich (St. Paul, Santa Fe Springs) 14-0
1980 — Bill Workman (Edison, Huntington Beach) 14-0
1979 — Ron Lancaster (Cordova, Rancho Cordova) 13-0
1978 — Jerry Deuker (Pinole Valley, Pinole) 11-1
1977 — Chris Ferragamo (Banning, Wilmington) 11-1-1
1976 — Benny Pierce (Saratoga) 13-0
1975 — Ed Lloyd (Cardinal Newman, Santa Rosa) 12-0
1974 — Dick Haines (Vista) 13-0
1973 — Dwayne DeSpain (Los Altos, Hacienda Heights) 12-0-1
1972 — Bob Hitchcock (Temple City) 13-0
1971 — Gene Vollnogle (Carson) 12-0
1970 — Jack Neumeier (Granada Hills) 11-1
1969 — Forrest Klein (Alameda) 9-0
1968 — Tom Burt (Los Altos) 9-0
1967 — Clare Van Hoorebeke (Anaheim) 12-1
1966 — Ernie Johnson (El Rancho, Pico Rivera) 13-0
1965 — Dick Coury (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) 12-0-1
1964 — John Hanna (Bellarmine, San Jose) 10-0
1963 — Paul Briggs (Bakersfield) 9-0
1962 — Bob Berry (Willow Glen, San Jose) 9-0
1961 — Joe Marvin (Sequoia, Redwood City) 9-0
1960 — Sam Cathcart (Santa Barbara) 11-1
1959 — Dave Levy (Long Beach Poly) 11-0
1958 — Paul Huebner (Banning, Wilmington) 11-0
1957 — Johnny Johnson (Oroville) 9-0
1956 — Dick Hill (Downey) 12-0-1
1955 — Duane Maley (San Diego) 11-0-1
1954 — Aaron Wade (Centennial, Compton) 10-1-1
1953 — Milt Axt (Poly, San Francisco) 10-0
1952 — Fred Moffett (Berkeley) 9-0
1951 — Hod Ray (Palo Alto) 8-0
1950 — Ernie Busch (Merced) 11-0
1949 — Bob Patterson (Vallejo) 10-0
1948 — Harry Edelson (Fremont, Los Angeles) 9-0-1
1947 — Jim Sutherland (Santa Monica) 12-0
1946 — George Hobbs (Alhambra) 12-0
1945 — Colon Kilby (Vallejo) 10-0
1944 — Bert LaBrucherie (Los Angeles) 7-0
1943 — Larry Siemering (Stockton) 10-0
1942 — Brick Johnson (Piedmont) 7-0
1941 — Roy Richert (Castlemont, Oakland) 5-0-1
1940 — Clarence Schutte (Santa Barbara) 9-1
1939 — Palmer Muhl (Woodland) 8-0
1938 — Ras Johnson (Galileo, San Francisco) 8-0-1
1937 — Jim Blewett (Manual Arts, Los Angeles) 8-0
1936 — Harlan Lee (Red Bluff) 7-0-1
1935 — Paul Hungerford (Poly, San Francisco) 9-0
1934 — Orian Landreth (Long Beach Poly, Long Beach) 12-1
1933 — Dick Arnett (Inglewood) 8-2-1
1932 — Harry Shipkey (Salinas) 11-0
1931 — Tex Oliver (Santa Ana) 13-0
1930 — John Price (Bonita, La Verne) 10-0

List continues back to 1896 in State Record Book & Almanac.

Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of He can be reached at Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports

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