It’s been a whirlwind season for Folsom High sophomore quarterback Jake Browning.
Though he’s the centerpiece of Folsom’s spread offense and set a state record for most passing yards in a season with 5,246 yards and came two touchdowns shy from a state record for touchdown passes, he’s still only a sophomore, a year removed from playing freshman football. He didn’t let on to anyone that his and the team’s accomplishments this season were anything out of the ordinary, but Sunday he had a chance to reflect on the season, starting all the way back in May with spring ball.
“It’s been a crazy year,” Browning said. “I never expected to do that well and to be playing De La Salle in the Nor-Cal championship game. I knew our defense and Coach Baiz would do well, and I knew what we had at the skill positions and on the line, so I guess it came down to whether or not I performed. For us the quarterback position is a big deal and I think I had a good season. Looking back there’s a million things I didn’t do well, but it was a successful season.”
There were a number of highlights to the season, including his 10-touchdown pass debut against Woodcreek in the season’s opening game. Browning said, however, his confidence really began to grow after the team camp at Cal Berkeley in June.
“After camp I knew I could hang,” Browning said. “I was more confident after that. Of course, that first game was nice, but after the San Ramon game (29-45 for 375 yards, 4 TDs, 2 INTs in a 31-20 win in the second game) I felt even more comfortable because it proved the Woodcreek game wasn’t a fluke.”
Browning said he will remember the 10-touchdown game against Woodcreek, the 49-21 win over Oak Ridge and the 44-18 section championship game against Elk Grove the most.
“Sadly, I think I’ll always remember the De La Salle game too,” said Browning of the first loss he’s suffered as a high school player. “I try not to look back on the past and think what if, but I supposed I could have made better reads and been more accurate on some throws. I probably could have done better.”
Asked about the state passing mark, Browning deflected any personal accomplishment to the team.
“It says a lot about hard work,” Browning said. “I’ve got to credit my line for protecting me and my receivers because most of those yards come after the catch. We throw screens that those guys break for 70-yard touchdowns.”
So what does Browning do for an encore? How does he improve on a season when he passed for a state record amount of yards?
“I’m just going back to the basics by throwing routs, lifting and running,” he said. “I can work on my angle corner routs, my sluggo routs and the double-move routs. I can also get my arm stronger by lifting weights, throwing and staying flexible.”
Folsom coach Kris Richardson agreed.
“The year experience will help him next year for one, but there’s a lot Jake can work on to improve,” Richardson said. “He can work on his athleticism, his arm strength and his foot speed. I know he’ll work with Troy at the passing academy too. He’s a competitor and he’ll do everything he has to do to continue to improve. Every player who’s a competitor will strive to improve and Jake’s that type of player.”
With Browning coming back for his junior year, Folsom will be solid at quarterback next season. They’ve also got several key players returning and a strong sophomore class moving up to the varsity level. Browning predicts good things.
“We lose a lot of key players, but we have good guys returning too,” he said. “We’re going to have to rebuild like we did from last year to this year. If we work hard I think we can go further than we did this year.”