Like a locomotive gaining steam, Granite Bay is playing at another level in the postseason so good that the Grizzlies are headed back to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship game next weekend.
Looking impressive in every phase, the fifth-seeded Grizzlies dismantled top-seeded Franklin 37-7 Friday night in the semifinals at Cosumnes Oaks High School. It was Franklin's first loss in 13 games in what was the Wildcats' best season in their short history.
Granite Bay will play either Friday or Saturday at Sacramento State day and time to be determined today against the winner of today's game between No. 2 Burbank and No. 3 Oak Ridge at Burbank.
Granite Bay won last year's D-I title, beating Pleasant Grove.
But the Grizzlies started this season 1-3 before reeling off nine consecutive wins and turning things up a notch in the postseason.
They came into Friday's game having outscored their first two playoff opponents by a total of 108-20.
The trend didn't change against Franklin.
Granite Bay scored on its first series, an 86-yard, eight-play drive, capped by Tony Ellison's 43-yard touchdown run.
After Franklin fumbled on its first play from scrimmage at its own 15-yard line, the Grizzlies quickly got on the board again with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Grant Caraway to Johnny Cooley with 6:58 still to play in the first quarter.
Methodical Granite Bay built a 30-0 lead before Franklin scored just before the half on an eight-yard touchdown pass from Trent Spallas to Robert Sanders.
Caraway completed 10 of 14 passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns; Ellison rushed for 93 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries; and Taft Partridge ran for 91 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.
In all, Granite Bay had 358 total yards.
Granite Bay's dominating defense forced two turnovers a fumble recovery by Vince Milo and an interception by Aaron Knapp.
Spallas completed 12 of 31 passes for 185 yards and a touchdown and the Wildcats had only 60 rushing yards against a Granite Bay defense led by defensive end Beau Hershberger, linebackers Cameron Smith and Mason Conen, and defensive back Luke Bussey.
Folsom 49, Buhach Colony 22 in Folsom Bailey Loalagi returned an interception 88 yards for a touchdown, ran for a 73-yard score and caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from Jake Browning to lead the top-seeded Bulldogs (13-0) past the No. 5 Thunder (10-3) from Atwater and into the D-II finals for the third consecutive season.
Browning also threw touchdown passes of 16 yards and 11 yards, respectively, to Troy Knox and Harry Lipnosky.
After turning the ball over on downs on its first possession, Folsom scored the next six times it had the ball.
Folsom, which lost last year to Vacaville and beat Grant the year before en route to a CIF State Bowl title, will play Elk Grove either Friday or Saturday at Sacramento State.
Central Catholic 34, Center 13 in Modesto The. No 10 Cougars' stirring season came to an end against the perennial small-school power and No. 6 Raiders (11-2).
Center (10-3) yielded touchdowns on all four Central Catholic possessions during the first half and couldn't stop Ray Lomas (22 carries, 127 yards, 3 touchdowns) or Rey Vega (17 carries, 110 yards, two touchdowns ).
Vega also returned a kickoff 81 yards for a score in the third quarter, moments after Robert Gervais returned a fumble 91 yards for a TD.
Center tailback D'Juan Bellaire finished with 112 rushing yards on 15 carries.