Folsom, Pleasant Grove battle for league title on FridayBy: Matt Long, Sports Editor
As it has so often before, the Delta River League championship comes down to Folsom and Pleasant Grove.
The 4-0 Bulldogs host the 3-1 Eagles on Friday night in the regular season finale for both teams. If Folsom wins the league title belongs to them; if Pleasant Grove wins, they will tie Folsom as league champs and possibly with Oak Ridge if the Trojans get by Jesuit. While the Bulldogs are coming off a come-from-behind 42-25 win over Ponderosa, the Eagles got throttled by Oak Ridge, 38-19, last Friday.
“Pleasant Grove has been very successful with a strong running game and an effective play-action pass,” Folsom High coach Kris Richardson said. “They’re fundamentally sound on defense and make teams earn it. On offense we have to protect Jake (Browning) and defensively we have to slow down their running game. They run power sets and they’re going to give (Isaiah) Saunders 30-to-40 carries and bash it between the tackles. They’re quarterback (Deaundre Terrell) is a little guy, but he runs the ball well and is accurate with his passes. They also have athletes on the outside that can stretch the field. It’s going to be a great challenge.”
Folsom likely can’t afford to turn the ball over like they did last Friday against Ponderosa and expect to win. Folsom had five times in the first half and trailed the Bruins 25-21 at halftime. While it wasn’t a pretty first half, Richardson was enthused with his team in the second half.
“It was frustrating, but you’ve got to play through it and I’m proud of the way we did that,” Richardson said. “To have a half like that and to be down on the road and to rally the troops and come back and shut them out in the second half was very impressive.”
Bulldogs strong second half subdues Ponderosa
It’s not how you start the game, but how you finish, that counts.
The Folsom High football team proved that on Friday night with a 42-25 victory at Ponderosa. Amidst the storm of turnovers, penalties and untimely gaffes, the Bulldogs came out unscathed.
“Hats off to (Ponderosa coach Jason) Tenner. Those guys played their butts off,” said Richardson. “I love the way we responded and I knew we would. You’ve got to be able to respond to this kind of game. The great teams respond to that kind of stuff. I can’t be more proud of these guys.”
Folsom was haunted by an uncharacteristic five turnovers — three interceptions and fumbles on both a punt and kickoff — to the Bruins in the first half. Three of them led to Ponderosa touchdowns, but the Bulldogs rebounded quite well in the second half, scoring three touchdowns while holding Ponderosa scoreless.
“It’s key just knowing that your friend has your back when things start to crumble. We focused on sticking together and that’s how we’ve become such a good football team,” said Folsom defensive end Devon Nooner.
Sophomore running back Bailey Laolagi rebounded from a sub-par first half where he fumbled twice. He put that in the rearview mirror to score two of his three touchdowns in the second half.
Two big catches from Lucas Owan (213 receiving yards, 2 TDs) set up Laolagi’s one-yard run to re-establish the Folsom lead at 28-25. The second half defense got its stops and allowed the Bulldogs to continue the scoring. Jake Browning found Harry Lipnosky from 17 yards out before Laolagi’s second rushing TD of the half from 39 yards capped the scoring in the fourth quarter.
“We turned it around. Our coaches stay supportive of us throughout the game. We just needed to stay focused and go out there and play,” said Laolagi.
A back-and-forth first half, which featured six lead changes, began with Jeff Camilli’s pick-six to give Ponderosa its first score. After Nooner blocked the point after, Folsom answered with Laolagi’s 19-yard touchdown catch from Browning, reclaiming the lead for the Bulldogs.
Camilli bookended touchdown runs of four and 52 yards around two 50-plus-yard TD hookups of Browning-to-Owan to wrap up the first half with a 25-21 Ponderosa advantage.
Derek Stiles led the Folsom defense with 6 ½ tackles, while Eddie Flores made six. Laolagi, Chaz Arnold and Quincy Capel had 3 ½ tackles, while Hunter Hast and Rodney Ellison both made three tackles. Devon Nooner forced a fumble, while Arnold recovered it.
JV Bulldogs 42, Bruins 0
Coach Jordan Banning had a shorthanded roster on Friday night at Bruin Stadium. That didn’t stop his junior varsity Bulldogs from pounding Ponderosa with a 42-0 romp to improve to 8-0-1.
A 35-0 halftime cushion bumped to 42 in the third quarter thanks to an interception run from Cole Thompson for a touchdown. Solid defensive plays at the end of the game — in particular, Troy Tillman’s batted down pass as Ponderosa threatened in the red zone — held the shutout for Folsom.
“We’ve got a lot of kids playing positions that they’re not used to and a lot of them stepped up tonight,” said Banning. “It’s nice that the subs can come in and perform. The kids just keep showing up and working hard. Our defense makes it easy for us to work. We’re feeling good in week nine and hopefully we can finish strong.”
Folsom’s freshman team defeated Ponderosa 33-0 to improve to 7-2 on the season.
Nick Pecoraro contributed to this story.