Folsom, St. Mary's to battle for section title

By: Matt Long of the Telegraph
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Folsom enters the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I title game Saturday with a perfect 13-0 record.

The Bulldogs have yet to lose, but it hasn’t always been pretty. Eleven of Folsom’s 13 games this season have come against teams that have made the playoffs, so the team is as battle-tested as anyone. They’ve overcome multiple penalties and mistake-filled games to stay undefeated, but will need to play their best, and perhaps more importantly, their cleanest game if they are to beat St. Mary’s (11-2), the defending section champion who beat Folsom in the title game a year ago, 56-25. The coaches know it, and so do the players.

“We need to have a great week of practice, bring a strong physical and mental approach and then execute,” Folsom senior guard Noah Lunday said. “We all need to be as one. We need to be on the same page and focus on winning a section championship. We can’t have any dumb penalties.”

The game will be the eighth straight section championship game the Bulldogs have played in, the fifth at the Division 1 level following three straight in Division II. Folsom’s won five of those seven games and will be looking for a sixth title during this string on Saturday at 1:45 p.m. at Sacramento State.

“It feels good to get to this game,” quarterback Kaiden Bennett said. “It’s what we’ve worked all season for and now we’re here. We made a lot of mistakes against Jesuit. We have to keep our mistakes to a low number against St. Mary’s. We need to stay composed, and stay humble. It’s a big game, but we have to treat it like any other and just be ready to play.”

The Bulldogs are coming off a 27-14 win over Jesuit in a game that featured plenty of penalties; including holding calls, offside calls on the defense, and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties that have plagued Folsom in several games this season. They will have to play better on Saturday if they are to beat St. Mary’s.

“St. Mary’s lost a lot of good players from last year, but they still have a lot of very good ones and are a very good team,” Folsom coach Kris Richardson said. “Dusty Frampton has been one of the top running backs in the section the last three years. Both of their quarterbacks, Marcos Aponte and Hunter Low, are extremely athletic. They want to run Dusty and their quarterbacks and then use play action. The challenge will be to slow their run game down. We’re going to have to gang-tackle Dusty. He’s big, strong and fast.

“Offensively, we’re going to have to put points on the board. We played great in spurts against Jesuit, but were our own worst enemy at times. We had the ball in the red zone three times and didn’t score because of penalties and a turnover. I can handle losing if we’re outplayed, but I would have a hard time losing because of an immature moment.”

Richardson was referring to the unsportsmanlike penalties, which the Bulldogs have had several times this season. Again, so far the Bulldogs have been able to overcome those mistakes, and if necessary, they will have to again on Saturday if they are to win the section title they so badly want.