Bulldogs roll over Elk Grove to win Division II section title

Possible showdown with De La Salle on the horizon
By: Matt Long, Sports Editor
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Folsom won its second section championship in three years and did so convincingly Saturday night at Hornet Stadium at Sacramento State, beating Elk Grove 44-18.

The win sets up a likely showdown with powerhouse De La Salle Saturday at Sac State in the Nor-Cal open division championship. That schedule for the Nor-Cal playoff games will be officially announced tomorrow afternoon.

The win over the Herd was impressive for a number of reasons; not just because of the 26-point margin of victory. Elk Grove has an impressive running game, led by Robert Frazier and Wadus Parker. Through three quarters of play with Folsom leading 27-6, the Bulldogs had outrushed the Herd 116 yards to 84. Elk Grove picked up a couple big runs in the fourth quarter to overtake the Bulldogs, but holding Frazier to 52 yards on 16 carries and Parker to 60 yards on 13 carries can be considered a stellar performance. In fact, the only big plays Elk Grove made on offense came on quarterback scrambles by Tommy Arnold, who led the team with 77 yards rushing.

“Their backs couldn’t do anything,” Folsom defensive coordinator Lou Baiz said. “The guys played hard and were fundamentally sound. They’ve been improving every week and they just keep on playing.”

Senior defensive end Devon Nooner, who was in on one of the bigger plays of the game when he got a hand on an Elk Grove punt, which gave the offense a short field and led to a Folsom touchdown and a 14-6 lead at halftime, said the key was stopping the run.

“We wanted to stop Frazier because he’s a great back,” said Nooner, who led the team with nine tackles and also recovered a fumble. “We just played our game.”

Folsom senior defensive tackle Quincy Capel, who finished with eight tackles and one sack, said it’s a team effort.

“Our defense is a big part of this team,” Capel said. “We work well together and get stops and the offense scores the points.

Senior defensive end Chaz Arnold was thrilled with his team’s performance.

“We were well prepared and knew what plays they were going to run,” he said. “Everyone played great and to win is just a great feeling for me after losing last year.”

Derek Stiles made eight tackles, while Eddie Flores was in on five and recovered a fumble as well as the blocked punt. Phillip Carter also intercepted a pass.

While both teams had to battle the rain and the wind, Folsom, as a predominately passing team, had to considered at a disadvantage in such conditions. That’s not the way it turned out, though. Elk Grove turned the ball over three times on two fumbles and an interception, while Folsom didn’t turn the ball over at all.

Folsom quarterback Jake Browning didn’t have a great night statistically, completing 16-of-30 passes for 205 yards, but he threw for three touchdowns, ran another and led his team to victory, which is the only thing that matters.

“Once you get past the fact that it’s raining, it shouldn’t affect you,” Browning said. “We want it to rain. We’re a great team in the rain.”
Folsom co-coach Troy Taylor was proud of his quarterback’s performance.

“Jake played well,” Taylor said. “He’s a performer and just goes out and gets it done. That’s easy to say in conditions like this, but sometimes it’s difficult to pull it off and Jake did it.”

Folsom played great at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, which was another key to victory. Taylor said the team won the game up front.

Senior offensive guard Josh Wormley was proud of the work he and his teammates did in the trenches.

“We said from the first snap that we were going to own the line of scrimmage,” Wormley said. “We set the tone from the start and they couldn’t stick with us. We play well as a group and that’s the key.”

Browning is certainly appreciative of the performance of his line, which features Cody Creason and Austin Rothrock on the left, Wormley and Mike D’Ottavio on the right and center Dalton Bledsoe at center. Reed Garmsen also sees playing team.

“They’re the reason I’m still walking,” Browning said. “They work hard and they watch a lot of film. There is a lot of dedication with those guys.”

Folsom trailed 6-0 midway through the second quarter and the fact that they managed to score 44 points in 29 minutes of play is another feather in their cap. Browning hooked up with Troy Knox (5 catches, 77 yards, 2 TDs) from eight yards for the first score. After Nooner’s blocked punt, Browning took it in from a yard out with 33 seconds remaining in the half and Folsom led 14-6.

The Bulldogs scored on the opening drive of the second half on a 51-yard pass from Browning to Knox.

After a Flores fumble recovery, Browning threw a seven-yard pass to Bailey Laolagi (3 catches, 35 yards, 1 TD). Carter followed with an interception and Folsom capitalized once again, this time with a one-yard run by Josiah Deguara, which made it 34-6.

Elk Grove managed a touchdown early in the fourth quarter to make it 34-12, but Folsom came right back with a 12-yard run by Laolagi (13 carries, 72 yards, 1 TD). Nooner ended Elk Grove’s next possession with a fumble recovery and Ben Trumm finished Folsom’s scoring with a 42-yard field goal.

“It feels great to win a section championship,” said Nooner. “It’s like eating warm apple pie.”