Going on the road to Fresno to face 13-0 Central High of Fresno didn’t prove to be roadblock for the Folsom football team in its attempt to repeat as CIF D1-AA state champions. The Bulldogs revved up their engines for an 84-46 win in one of those performances we’ve seen many times in the last 15 years and now they’ll face Cathedral Catholic (San Diego) next Friday in state final. Go inside for more and for recaps of the other CIF NorCal regional titles decided on Friday night.
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There have been quite a few blowout wins in big games for the Folsom High football team in recent years, including 75 points in one half of a CIF Sac-Joaquin Section 75-0 playoff win against Vacaville one year plus a 68-7 triumph over Oceanside in the CIF Division I state title game in 2014.
The one that the Bulldogs laid out on previously unbeaten Central of Fresno on Friday night at Central High’s Deron Kolegian Stadium will stand among the others. Despite three early turnovers, Folsom overwhelmed the Grizzlies 84-46 in the CIF Division 1-AA Northern California championship and it looks like that’s a school record for points in a game. It also may be the most points in a CIF regional final (north or south), surpassing the 70-49 win by St. John Bosco of Bellflower over Corona Centennial in 2013 in a SoCal Open Division championship.
“We came out and shot ourselves in the foot, but we’ve been great all year and we knew we’d be fine,” said Folsom head coach Kris Richardson, whose team (ranked No. 5 in the state) improved to 13-1 with its only loss coming in the season opener to De La Salle of Concord (ranked No. 3 in the state and playing No. 1 Mater Dei of Santa Ana on Saturday in the CIF Open Division state final). “We ended up scoring on five of our eight offensive possessions in the first half and got it rolling. Our offensive line played extremely well.”
It wasn’t exactly a blowout win, however. Central’s home fans, who were packed nicely onto their side of the field and spilled over into the Folsom side, still had plenty of confidence coming into the second half. Their team had trailed in the first half of its previous two games in the CIF Central Section playoffs and was sitting at No. 8 in the state, so despite being down 35-21 they knew their team was getting the ball first in the third quarter and was having almost as much success driving the field for scores as Folsom.
Then disaster struck for Central as a Trent Tompkins pass was intercepted by Folsom’s Noah Jenkins on the second play of the second half and was returned for a 31-yard touchdown. The Bulldog lead was up to 42-21 and there was nothing Central could do the rest of way but try to match scores. In the end, Folsom scored on nine consecutive offensive series after suffering an interception, an interception and a fumble on three of its first four possessions.
With the win, Folsom advanced to next Friday’s CIF Division 1-AA state championship at Cerritos College where it will face Cathedral Catholic of San Diego in a matchup of the last two title teams in that division. Cathedral Catholic, which won its regional game last Friday 24-21 over Narbonne of Harbor City, won in 2016. Folsom won last year and in that game defeated Helix of La Mesa, which like Cathedral Catholic entered the state bowls after winning the CIF San Diego Section Open Division title.
Boise State-bound quarterback Kaiden Bennett came into the night with 56 touchdowns and no interceptions since that first game loss to De La Salle (he had two in that outing) and had the two early ones against the Grizzlies. He finished on a roll, though, with four touchdown passes plus four more touchdown runs. In Folsom’s section final vs. Monterey Trail of Elk Grove, Bennett accounted for seven TDs so that’s 15 in two weeks. Not bad.
Three of Bennett’s TD passes went to junior speedster Elijhah Badger, who also scored on a 72-yard kickoff return in the second half.
“We just executed just a lot better on defense than they did in the second half,” Badger said. “After last year and doing this again, it feels like a wonderful experience.”
Some of Folsom’s other scores came on lightning quick drives, one that was two plays for 88 yards (78-yard TD pass from Bennett to Badger) and one that was one play for 64 yards (a run by C.J. Hutton). In fact, for the entire game, the Bulldogs were not faced with third-and-long one time and never had to convert a fourth down.
Tompkins had his moments as well and did not shy away from the bigger spotlight. He threw for four touchdowns and ran for a 16-yard TD in the fourth quarter. In fact, he said he’s glad he got the chance to play Folsom again after losing to the Bulldogs 54-35 in last year’s NorCal D1-AA final instead of perhaps playing a weaker opponent in the NorCal D1-A contest.
“I felt like we had to score on every possession, really,” said Tompkins, who recently committed to UC-Davis. “I knew they had a deadly offense and we just had to score on every possession. But we put 46 and that’s all right. But against Folsom, you have to put up 60 or 70 just to stay in the game. They’re that type of team.”
Richardson said he learned first from Cal-Hi Sports about the likelihood of his team being in this game on the road at Central for the NorCal regional bowl game.
“This is a great stadium and we’ve had a great trip,” he said. “I’ve got no issue with us being on the road (after having hosted in the team’s two previous NorCal finals). Now, we’ve just got to go home, lick our wounds, and head back down further south next week.”
In other CIF NorCal regional finals played on Friday night:
2AA: Del Oro (Loomis) 14, St. Francis (Mountain View) 13
For the second straight week, Matthew Smart was the hero for the Golden Eagles as he caught a 13-yard TD pass from Carson Jarratt with 59 seconds left, which was followed by a go-ahead PAT by Ryan Whalley. Last week, Smart scooped up a fumble with 1:42 left and scored in a one-point win vs. Central Catholic of Modesto in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section title game. Del Oro, which trailed 13-0 in the third quarter, went to a passing game to find cracks in the Lancers’ defense. St. Francis, which was coming off of a 31-30 loss in two overtimes to Valley Christian of San Jose in its Open Division section final, missed a 36-yard field goal and lost a fumble on the Del Oro 5-yard line to give Del Oro the chance for the one-point win. The Golden Eagles (No. 23 in this week’s State Top 50) improved to 13-1 and will now play Grace Brethren of Simi Valley next Friday for the state title. The Lancers fell to 11-3 and will drop from No. 16 in the state.
D3AA: Menlo-Atherton (Atherton) 27, Eureka 20
After the previously unbeaten Loggers had tied the score at 20-20 early in the fourth quarter, the Bears bounced back right away on a 70-yard TD by standout sophomore Tony Franklin. Their defense helped them hold on for the win and now they will play Lincoln of San Diego next week for the state crown. M-A (12-2 and No. 43 in the state) built a 20-7 lead as Franklin scored two earlier touchdowns. Eureka (12-1, No. 49) was led by senior QB Cruz Montana on two second-half scoring drives.
D4AA: Rio Linda 21, West Valley (Cottonwood) 13
In a game played in Cottonwood, the visiting Knights (12-2) earned their first-ever appearance in a CIF state football final with a come-from-behind win. Rio Linda was behind 13-7 after three quarters, but outscored the Eagles 14-0 in the fourth. Both fourth quarter TDs were from standout junior Cameron Skattebo. He had a 55-yard TD reception from Abraham Banks that was followed by a go-ahead PAT. Skattebo then ripped off a 65-yard TD run with just four minutes left. Rio Linda will now face San Gorgonio of San Bernardino at home for next week’s state final.
D6AA: Hilmar 48, East Nicolaus (Nicolaus) 14
One week after the Yellowjackets demolished previously unbeaten Ripon Christian 57-14 in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division 6 championship, they were equally impressive in taking down previously unbeaten East Nicolaus. Hilmar (12-2) will now play Strathmore next week for the D6AA state championship. Those two teams met last year in a CIF NorCal play-in game for D6AA and Strathmore won 54-52 in overtime. East Nicolaus, making its third straight trip to the NorCal bowl games, had difficulty hanging onto the ball in early going. Thanks to three fumbles, it was 27-0 in the first quarter and the Yellowjackets were in cruise control the rest of the way. QB Treven Crowley paced the offense with five TD passes while Isaac Sharp ran for 172 yards on 20 carries.