Folsom keys vs. De La Salle: Slow the Spartan run game; score in the red zoneBy: Matt Long, Sports Editor
All the preparation and all the hype is over: Folsom visits De La Salle Friday in the most anticipated season-opening game since Folsom played host to Grant in 2010, a game broadcasted on ESPN.
Friday’s game against De La Salle is far bigger than the Grant game, as it features northern California’s best team over the last 30 years, facing arguably Nor-Cal’s second-best team this decade, the Folsom Bulldogs. Not only have the Spartans not lost to a Nor-Cal team since 1991, but throw in the possible postseason ramifications and the game gets even bigger. The team that wins tomorrow night’s game has the inside track to represent Nor-Cal in the open division state title game, assuming the team runs the table and puts itself in that position.
“Playing zero week, we’ve had plenty of time to prepare for De La Salle, but we’re not putting all of our apples in one basket,” Folsom coach Kris Richardson said. “We’ve still got nine regular season games after this one that we have to win if we want to get where we’re going. That said, this is an exciting game and a big game. It is two premiere programs going at it. De La Salle is the measuring stick to everyone, and we’re going to find out where we are. We’re going to show up and compete and give it our all. We’re excited.”
De La Salle runs the Veer offense, a ball-control-type offense, which is based off a triple option attack where the quarterback can either hand the ball off to the first back or keep it himself or pitch it to another back. Jesuit runs the same offense and Folsom did well against it twice a year ago, but Jesuit is not De La Salle.
“De La Salle is going to do what they do and they do it better than anyone else,” Richardson said. “Defensively, we have to stop the dive, first and foremost. We have to limit their yards between the tackles. Then, we have to limit their big plays.”
Offensively, the Bulldogs must be able to protect quarterback Kaiden Bennett, as that’s always the key to any success the team has offensively. Other that that, the team must capitalize on its scoring opportunities.
“When we played them in 2013, we moved the ball well but didn’t score when we got to the red zone,” Richardson said. “First, we have to protect and secondly, we have to come away with points in the red zone. If that means I have to get them by kicking a field goal, then we’ll do it. We have to put points on the board when we get in the red zone.”
Richardson said De La Salle features top players in Henry To’oto’o, a 6-2, 230-pound linebacker who’s being recruited by all the top colleges, as well as tight end/defensive end Isaiah Foskey (6-4, 240).
“They’ve got plenty of other scholarship guys, but those two are the big ones,” Richardson said.
After three weeks of practice, the Bulldogs are ready for the season.
“Practice has gone great,” Richardson said. “The kids have had a great attitude and have worked hard. Our goal is to be better than the 2017 team. It’s a new season and we haven’t done anything yet. If we can improve on last year’s team, we’ve got a chance to be pretty darn good.”