Folsom to play St.Mary's for Division I title

By: Matt Long of the Telegraph
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The results of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I football playoffs have made those who put the bracket together look pretty smart.

In Saturday’s championship game at Sac State beginning at 6 p.m., No. 1 seeded Folsom will play the No. 2 seed St. Mary’s in a showdown between the best two teams in the division. The argument over which 12-1 team should have been the top seed will be settled Saturday.

The Bulldogs slipped up against Sac High in September and suffered their first regular-season loss since 2011, but have since proven that loss was nothing more than an anomaly. The Bulldogs, who some thought would come back to the pack this year, went on to sweep all comers in the Sierra Foothill League for the third consecutive season. The solid play continued in the first two rounds of the playoffs when Folsom rolled over Kennedy and Sheldon.

If there was any doubt in Folsom’s game it was answer this past week with a 41-3 trouncing of fourth-seeded Elk Grove.

“I was expecting more of a high-scoring affair,” Folsom Coach Kris Richardson admitted. “Even though our defense had been playing well, Elk Grove had been putting up a lot of points. Sam Cole and his staff came up with a great game plan, though, and our defense played with confidence and showed up and played a great game.”

St. Mary’s only loss came to St. John Bosco, currently ranked second in the state and fourth nationally by MaxPreps. The Rams’ closest game was a 17-point win over Cardinal Newman, 49-32, on Sept. 2. St. Mary’s enters the game coming off a 61-21 win over Folsom rival Oak Ridge, a game in which they scored touchdowns on their first six possessions and led 41-0 at halftime.

Quarterback Jake Dunniway had thrown for 3,206 yards and 38 touchdowns against only five interceptions. Dusty Frampton is the team’s leading rusher, as he’s gained 1,534 yards and scored 33 touchdowns, while rushing for more than 100 yards in seven games this season.

Dunniway has three main targets in the passing game and all three are dangerous. Dewey Cotton has made 62 catches for 1,031 yards, while Marcus Aponte has 41 catches for 809 yards. Cotton has 11 touchdowns, while Aponte has 10. Keaton Hampton is the deep threat. He’s only caught 39 passes, but has 978 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns.

If the chance to win a section championship isn’t enough motivation, the Rams will be looking to avenge last year’s 56-49 loss to the Bulldogs suffered in the section semifinals.

“They’ve got a majority of their players back from last year,” Richardson said. “They’re big up front and Dusty Frampton is a big, powerful back. Dewey Cotton is like Eric Davis in that he’s a receiver, but can also run the ball. They are loaded at the skill positions.

“If you’re playing in December, you’re an incredible football team. We’re playing very well right now. We’re going to show up and put it our out there and give them a great game.”