Folsom football airs on national TV

Highly anticipated game between the Bulldogs and Grant on ESPN2 this Friday
By: Matt Mills Telegraph Correspondent
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Prairie City Stadium has hosted some big games and events, but this Friday it will be put on the map. Playoff games, section championships in multiple sports, and nationally acclaimed track meets have all been played at the stadium, but it has never hosted a regular season game as big as Friday night, when two nationally ranked teams, Folsom and Grant, face off at 7 p.m. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN2. At least 11 potential Division I scholarship athletes will be on the field. And what is expected to be the most intriguing match-up, Folsom’s high-powered spread offense will meet potentially the state’s best defense in Grant. It’s the unstoppable force meets the immovable object. “I’ve been coaching here 15 years and I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Folsom coach Kris Richardson, of the magnitude and hype surrounding the game. “Grant is the best team we’ve ever seen. I want to see how we compete against them.” Folsom’s offense will be led by senior quarterback Dano Graves who threw for 3,882 yards and 52 touchdowns last season. Along with his right arm, his legs are also dangerous, as he led the team in rushing with 874 yards and 14 scores. “Folsom is very well organized and has many playmakers,” Grant coach Mike Alberghini said. “The quarterback is very intelligent and they give you lots of different things you have to defend against.” Surrounding Graves will be potential college scholarship receivers Tyler Trosin, Kori Babineaux, Burton De Koning, and will be joined by Jordan Richards, who will line-up all over the field. But the key, according to Richardson, will be how well Folsom protects the quarterback against a Pacer defensive line boasting one of the top recruits in the nation, Vei Moala, and Pac-10 recruit Puka Lopa. Folsom’s stellar group of receivers will face a secondary from Grant boasting Pac-10 recruits Shaq Thompson and James Sample, as well as a leader in middle linebacker Darryl Paulo. Three-year starting linemen Tucker Kearney and Stephen Sippel will anchor the trenches with Chris Page, Sam Lueken and Kenny Enstrom, who are also expected to hold off Grant’s fearsome pass rush. “The keys to the game for us will be to protect the quarterback, play great run defense, and limit their big plays,” Richardson said. Grant, ranked fourth in the nation by ESPN, will start unproven junior quarterback Terry Shine, but feature a player very similar to Richards in Thompson, who will line-up at tailback, wide receiver and may even play some quarterback. Thompson will run behind a line featuring Moala and Lopa and Grant’s usual staple of players who are both big and strong. Defensively for the Bulldogs, who finished last season with a 11-2 record, nosetackle Trevor Jones, linebackers Dan Curry, Lueken and De Koning, and a secondary of Trosin, Richards, Babineaux, J’Juan Muldrow and Mac Carlsen, will try and slow down the Pacers, who finished last season with a 12-1 record. Folsom returns nine players on defense and has a new defensive coordinator, legendary former Cordova head coach Max Miller. Before the players even take the field, Friday’s game is already being touted as the best season opener in the long history of Sacramento area football. “There is a buzz around the community,” Richardson said. “And the game is getting national attention, it’s really amazing.” Tom Ward, who’s owned Tom’s Barber Stylist in Folsom for 22 years, is excited about the game. “This is the best ticket around,” Ward said. “I think they’ve needed to do this for a long time. It’s huge for the town of Folsom. This is one of the best teams the school’s ever had.”