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The voice of Folsom football

Rich Payne loves football and the Bulldogs
By: Matt Long
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Folsom High football fans might not know what Rich Payne looks like, but they sure would recognize his voice if they heard it. With the exception of one season earlier this decade, Payne has been the voice of the Folsom High Bulldogs since 1977. With his strong Southern accent, Payne, born and raised in Greenville, S.C., is a fixture in the press box. "I've lived in California for almost 40 years and people ask me how I've kept my accent and I tell them that I never intended to lose it," Payne said. "Anybody who knows me knows I love to talk. It's been a blessing to be able to contribute." By day, Payne, 59, is a maintenance splicer for AT&T, but has spent his Friday nights during football season with many of the same friends in the booth. Mike Hacker and Cal Calloway work the scoreboard and clock, while his spotters, Bill Dayton on his left and Steve Barnett on his right, make his job a lot easier. "We're the posse," Payne said. "We've been working together for years and there's great camaraderie there. My spotters, Bill and Steve, make me sound like I know what I'm talking about it. This is no exaggeration, I'd sound like a babbling fool without those guys." Payne lives in Orangevale with his wife, Cheri, but has come to love the Folsom community. "I know Folsom has grown over the years, but it's still a close community to me," Payne said. "It's nice to be able to honor the spirit of these kids and the fans. As a volunteer, I'm honored to participate." Payne calls himself a Bulldog supporter through and through, all the way to the bone. That said, however, he's as fair as they come when speaking into the microphone. "I make a point to welcome the opposing team and their fans," Payne said. "Let's win the game, but let's do it with character and sportsmanship. That just adds to the game." Jordan Banning played football at Folsom High and graduated from the school in 2001 and now coaches on the junior varsity team. He's a big fan of Payne's. "Every time I hear his voice it's like a flashback for me," Banning said. "One thing I've always respected about Rich is that he's fair. He gets just as excited if the other team scores a touchdown as he does when Folsom scores. He's a good sportsman and he's very fair." Folsom High varsity football coach Kris Richardson added, "I love Rich. He's considered one of the best in the business. Whenever they have these all-star games, I get calls asking for Rich to see if he can work the games. Beyond that, he's a huge Bulldog supporter." If Payne has a signature call, it's what he says just prior to the opening kickoff, asking how many fans think the winner of tonight's game will be (the visiting team), followed by how many people think the winner of tonight's game will be the Folsom Bulldogs. "I love to stir it up," Payne said. "That's my way of connecting with the people." Payne said he would continue to announce games as long as he's invited back. The Payne Profile Age: 59 Family: Married to Cheri, 8 kids Resides: Orangevale Occupation: Maintenance splicer for AT&T Hometown: Greenville, S.C. Football bio: Played running back for Greenville High, SC and then Lanier High, Macon, Ga. Played in three Rotary Bowls, named MVP in one game and Best Back in another. Announcing goal: I want my love for the game to shine through. Signature call: How many fans think tonight’s winner of the game will be the Folsom Bulldogs. Favorite Bulldog memory: Folsom’s comeback win over Roseville in the late 70s, a team quarterbacked by Robbie Bosco. Folsom winning the section title in Sonoma in 1990. His impressions of this year’s team: This is the best team I’ve seen come out of Folsom, by far. Last year’s team had the best offense I’d seen, but this year’s team has the defense.