A great leap for Folsom

Bulldogs correct earlier mistakes and upend Grant for title
By: Matt Long
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Despite a lopsided 49-14 loss to Grant in August, Folsom High’s players and coaches entered Friday’s game against Grant confident that they would win. Even though the Bulldogs lost by 35 points in the season-opening game, change the results of a play here or a play there and they felt they would have been right there in the end. Well, the Bulldogs did more than change the results of a few plays on Friday night. The Bulldogs turned the tables on the Pacers, pulling away from the top-ranked team in the state in the second half on their way to a convincing 41-20 victory to win the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II championship. “I felt after watching the tape of the first game that we had our opportunities and didn’t capitalize on them,” Richardson said after the win. “Tonight, we made the plays. This is the best feeling I’ve ever had in football.” What Folsom did Friday night wasn’t rocket science. The Bulldogs pretty much went into the game with the same game plan they had the first time, but the team just played better and executed and that resulted in a win. The offensive line of Tucker Kearney, Travis Walker, Stephen Sippel, Jordan Alleva and Kenny Enstrom did a marvelous job against a bigger, stronger and more respected defensive front from Grant. The line accomplished the No. 1 key for Folsom to have success on offense and that was to protect the quarterback. With that done, Dano Graves tore up the Grant defense with 289 yards passing and four touchdowns and 129 yards rushing and two scores. Jordan Richards caught 10 passes for 207 yards and one touchdown, while Tyler Trosin hauled in eight passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns. Kori Babineaux, Marcus Hendricks and Carson McMurtrey each caught two passes for a combined 66 yards and one score by Babineaux. “I had heard or read that they weren’t worried about our rush game, but we outrushed them,” Richardson said. “It wasn’t by much but we did.” Richards had a huge game for the Bulldogs, as the Pacers simply couldn’t cover him. “When we put Jordan in motion, Grant had a linebacker on him and Jordan was just eating them alive,” Richardson said. “I think when we got them on that reverse pass to Jordan that put Grant on their heels. We also found ways to get Tyler the ball in the middle of the field.” Folsom’s defense has played well all season long, getting better and just as importantly, more confident as the season progressed. Again, not much changed with the game plan, but the execution was just better. “In the first game we made a lot of mistakes, over-running plays and missing tackles,” Richardson said. “We didn’t do a whole lot different scheme-wise this time. We were much more confident in our assignments and with what we were doing, got to the ball and made tackles.” Folsom 41, Grant 20 The Folsom Bulldogs had to play their best game of the year to beat Grant and they did before a sellout crowd at Hornet Stadium at Sacramento State University. The Bulldogs controlled the Pacers in the first half and pulled away in the second, humbling the favored and top-ranked team in the state, 41-20, as Folsom claimed its first football section championship in 20 years. Graves’ injured knee proved to be a non-factor, as he played his normal superb game by throwing for four touchdowns, but it was his two touchdown runs that were most prominent. The first one went for 64 yards midway through the third quarter and gave the Bulldogs a commanding and comfortable 34-13 lead. The second from 25 yards out in the game’s final minute put the icing on the cake of a 41-20 victory. The Bulldogs and a handful of their fans charged onto the field after the game to celebrate. “This is the most unbelievable feeling I’ve ever had,” Folsom senior linebacker Sam Lueken said. “I’m so proud of my guys. This journey started for a lot of us when we were 8 years old playing youth football and we’re not done yet.” With the win, the Bulldogs will likely play for a state title on Dec. 18 in Carson. “We’ve been dreaming about this since we were little kids,” Trosin said. “We just played our butts off, played as a team and played together.” Richards played a huge game for the Bulldogs. He scored the team’s first touchdown on a 43-yard pass from Graves, made many key catches and tackles and also intercepted a pass late in the fourth quarter to seal the victory. “I had an opportunity to get some balls and I just wanted to step up and make plays,” Richards said. “They had a linebacker on me to start and we just exploited that until they put a defensive back on me. “It feels great to win this. For the class of 2011, we’ve been working for this since third grade.” Richardson added, “Jordan was a monster tonight. He’s just an amazing football player whether he’s playing running back, wide receiver or defensive back.” Folsom’s defense, which gave up 49 points to Grant in the first game, held them to 20 this time, allowing only two touchdowns, two extra points and two field goals. “The offense played great, but the key tonight was that our defense stepped up and won the game,” Lueken said. “We stopped them when we needed to stop them.” Richardson added, “The defense just kept getting better each week and played with a lot of confidence tonight.” Grant jumped out to a 3-0 lead early, but Graves threw his first touchdown to Richards from 43 yards to give Folsom the lead. The Pacers answered with another field goal and after one quarter the game was tied at six. Babineaux hauled in a 30-yard pass from Graves to start the second, but Grant answered quickly just 67 seconds later on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Terry Shine to Shaq Thompson. Just before the half, Trosin gave Folsom the lead for good with an acrobatic 5-yard touchdown catch from Graves and the Bulldogs took a 20-13 lead into halftime. Folsom’s defense stopped Grant on fourth-and-one from Grant’s own 43-yard line to start the second half and the Bulldogs then capitalized on a 6-yard pass from Graves to Trosin to go up 27-13. After the defense held Grant to three plays and a punt, Graves scored on a 64-yard touchdown run to essentially seal the victory with a score that put Folsom up 34-13 with 5:16 to play in the third quarter. Grant answered one final time with a touchdown pass from Shine to Ronald Johnson late in the third quarter, but the fourth belonged to Folsom. Grant failed to convert on a fourth-and-15 play and the team’s traded interceptions on consecutive possessions after that before Graves finished off the Pacers with his 25-yard touchdown run. California State Bowl Games What: Teams playing in the CIF State Football Games will be selected and announced by the California Interscholastic Federation on Sunday. Folsom could play in the Division II title game or in the Open division championship, both to be held on Dec. 18, or could not be chosen at all. When: Dec. 17-18 Where: The Home Depot Center, Carson, Ca. Info: For more information, visit