Skill to burn, but the line holds the keys for Folsom offenseBy: Matt Long, Sports Editor
With eight starters returning, including all six playing the “skill” positions, there will be no shortage of talent on the offensive side of the football for the Bulldogs.
Quarterback Kaiden Bennett, running back Daniyel Ngata and receivers Joe Ngata, Parker Clayton, CJ Hutton and Elijah Badger all return from an offense that averaged 48 points and gained nearly 500 yards of offense per game a year ago. They’re all likely bigger, stronger and faster than a year ago, so that doesn’t bode well for opposing defenses. All but Hutton have scholarship offers and all, including Hutton, are impact players.
Joe Ngata, one of the most highly recruited players in the nation, committed to Clemson in late July. Last season, Ngata, with great size and speed to burn, caught 81 passes for 1,777 yards and 26 touchdowns. He gained nearly 22 yards each time he caught a pass a year ago.
There are few players on any team Folsom will play this season who can cover Ngata one-on-one. Throw in Badger, who also has several scholarship offers to major schools, and it makes things harder for the opponent. Clayton and Hutton simply add to the misery defenses face, as Bennett has multiple options on every play. Other receivers in the mix include Caleb Nelson, Gavin Davis-Smith, Chris Catalano and Jayden Meneghetti.
When Bennett wants to hand the ball off, Daniyel Ngata is as explosive as they come. He gained 863 yards and scored 11 rushing touchdowns a year ago, but only carried the ball more than 10 times in three games. He averaged nine yards per carry. Joey Washburn, Dylan Jorge and Dominic Navarro back up Ngata.
Bennett is coming off a superb season in which he threw for 4,431 yards and 57 touchdowns against 13 interceptions, completing 67 percent of his passes. He also led the Bulldogs with 1,218 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns. Backing up Bennett are Washburn and Jake Reithmeier.
The key to Folsom’s offense, aside from staying healthy, will clearly be the play of the offense line. Kaiden Richardson (6-2, 260) returns at center, while Joe Wagner (6-3, 260) moves from guard to tackle. The other starting tackle will be Garrison Passmore (6-4, 265), while David Ruiz (6-2, 280), Enrique Carrillo (6-1, 270) and Tommy Nunez (6-0, 265) are battling for the two starting spots at guard.
Chandon Pierre (6-3, 255) and Tyler Hardeman (6-2, 260), both starters on defense, are options on the offensive line as well, as are juniors Logan Harrison (6-2, 220) and Colby Christierson (5-11, 240).
“Kaden is back at center and Joe is making the transition from guard to tackle,” Richardson said. “I’ve always felt Garrison could be a talented linemen if he developed in the weight room and he’s done that. Ruiz started some games last year and he and Carrillo and Nunez are battling to be the starting guards. I feel good about this group, but you never know with linemen until you put the pads on. We’ll find out if they can play and how they look once we do that.”