Folsom turns attention to Nor-Cal title game, CentralBy: Matt Long, Sports Editor
With the section title behind them, Folsom High’s football team is now looking toward the next goal, which is a Nor-Cal Championship.
The Bulldogs (12-1) head to Fresno on Friday to face undefeated Central (13-0) with the winning team advancing to the CIF State I-AA championship game. The Bulldogs defeated the Grizzlies, 54-35, a year ago to advance to the state championship game. In that game, Folsom broke open a close game at halftime with a big third quarter. Central scored two touchdowns late to make it a one-score game, but when the Bulldogs needed a big drive, they got it and scored to put the game out of reach.
“What I remember from last year’s game is two great team with two great junior quarterbacks and explosive offenses going at it,” Folsom coach Kris Richardson said. “It was a great game for the fans because both teams were explosive. I expect a similar style and a great game again this year.”
The Grizzlies return quarterback Trent Tompkins, who has had an excellent senior year, completing 65 percent of his passes for 4,519 yards and 60 touchdowns against only three interceptions. Tompkins also gets it done with his legs, as he’s rushed for 921 yards and seven touchdowns. Quali Conley is the team’s leading rusher, as he’s gained 1,186 yards and scored 16 touchdowns, as he’s averaging nearly nine yards per carry. Also returning from last year’s team is Jeremiah Hunter, who leads the Grizzlies with 83 catches for 1,364 yards and 25 touchdowns.
“We’ve been lucky to host two of these Nor-Cal games, and now it’s our turn to go on the road,” Richardson said. “They’ve got a great facility down there. I hope Bulldog Nation travels well because it’s going to be a great game.”
The Bulldogs are coming off a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship with a 63-25 win over Monterey Trail on Saturday. It was the team’s second straight section title and seventh over the last nine years. Last year’s state champions have the same goal in mind this year, but first have to find a way to get by Central.
“Our goal is to get to the state game,” senior linebacker Noah Jenkins said. “Hopefully, we can win and stay alive.”
Said senior quarterback Kaiden Bennett, “It feels great to be moving on. We just have to keep working hard and making plays.”
Senior defensive tackle Tyler Hardeman said, “We have to stay focused and continue to get better. We have to take things one step at a time. We have won the league and the section, and now we have to go win Nor-Cal.”
After defeating Monterey Trail, assistant coach Bobby Fresques addressed the team.
“This was a tight game at the half, and that’s going to do us well going forward,” Fresques said. “What do we always say? We need to cut it loose, have fun and stick together.”
Folsom has won seven section titles this decade, and has won two of five Nor-Cal games, losing twice to De La Salle in 2012 and 2013 and to Bellarmine in 2015. Folsom’s wins have come against Grant in 2014 and against Central last year.
Awaiting the winner on Friday’s game is Cathedral Catholic (12-1), who defeated Narbonne, 24-21, to advance to the CIF State I-AA title game.