Bulldogs offense has talent to score in bunchesBy: Matt Long of the Telegraph
Almost since switching to the spread offense a little more than a decade ago, Folsom High’s football team has never been short on talented players in the skill positions.
This year is no different.
The Bulldogs must replace quarterback Jake Jeffrey, who had a fine season a year ago, and will do so with Joe Curry (6-0, 175). As Jeffrey’s backup a year ago and a starting quarterback at the junior varsity and freshman levels, Curry knows the offense inside and out and is a good decision-maker.
Curry will have plenty of talented receivers to throw the ball to. Of the seven players who caught at least 10 passes a year ago, four return in Eric Davis, Jack Sa, Brandon Rupchock and Drake Stallworth. Davis (48 catches, 730 yards, 9 touchdowns) isn’t the biggest receiver (5-9, 170), but is fast, quick and shifty and could likely double his numbers this season. Stallworth is another player who could double his output from last year (24 catches, 457 yards, 7 touchdowns). At 6-2, he’s got great size and speed, not to mention hands, and will be a big target for the Bulldogs’ quarterback. Sa (31 catches, 304 yards, 4 touchdowns) is a reliable and versatile receiver and Rupchock moves from receiver to running back this year, but is a great option out of the backfield (27 catches, 343 yards, 5 touchdowns).
Added to the mix at receiver this year are four other talented players who figure to see playing time. Ariel Ngata (6-3, 220) and Brad Jenner (6-1, 200), who both caught eight passes for three touchdowns a year ago, are big, physical receivers who will be hard to handle off the ball. Both play linebacker and will split time on offense at the team’s hybrid tight end position. Splitting time with Stallworth at the other receiver position is Ariel’s brother, Joe, who offers another big target (6-3, 185) with great speed and hands.
Tino Hutchins (5-8, 155) is smallest receiver of the bunch, but could make an impact.
Rupchock will split time at running back with Davin Simmons, as the two juniors have big shoes to fill from the graduation of Tre Green and Roger Neal.
For the first time since Folsom’s first state championship in 2010, the Bulldogs won’t have an offensive linemen weighing more than 260 pounds. The days of having 6-4, 280-plus pound tackles like Cody Creason, Jonah Williams and Kooper Richardson are gone for now.
Senior Blake Christierson (6-0, 225) is the only returning starter from last year and starts the year at center. Senior Kaivan Khazeni (6-0, 225) played center a year ago and started this season injured. Senior Dominic Langham (6-0, 205) and junior Justin Viega (6-1, 230) are the starting guards, while junior Noah Lunday (6-2, 250) and sophomore David Ruiz (6-2, 260) are the tackles. Senior Levi Coveau (6-3, 200) is also expected to contribute.
“This is the first time in the last four years where we don’t have that big, scholarship offensive lineman,” Richardson said. “One of these guys might develop into that, but right now we’ve got more of a traditional high school offensive line size wise. Noah and David aren’t small, but they’re not 290-pound Pac-12 linemen.”
Size aside, Richardson believes in the group he has. They remind him of the 2010 line who didn’t necessarily pass the eye test, but played together as a unit.
“These guys have the ability and tools to be successful,” Richardson said. “I’m excited about their athleticism and their intelligence. They have to be great at pass protecting and we’ll have to find a way to run the ball.”
Christierson feels the group will succeed.
“Obviously, we don’t have the big bookends this year, but we know our stuff and have worked our butts off,” Christierson said. “We are confident. We know our checks and our defensive reads and we’re getting better each time out.”