"The Greatest Show on Turf" ran headlong into "The Green Machine" on Saturday night at Hornet Stadium.
The green guys won emphatically, leaving a black-and-blue reminder at what another level of football looks and feels like.
De La Salle High School flexed its considerable muscle in offering an announced crowd of 10,197 a glimpse of precisely what makes for a football dynasty with no comparison. The nationally renowned Spartans of Concord exploded off the line of scrimmage on offense, relentlessly chased ballcarriers on defense and rolled Folsom 49-15 in the first Northern California Regional Open game.
There's certainly no shame in losing to an outfit bearing this sort of pedigree, Folsom coaches said afterward as the Bulldogs' season came to a grinding halt at 14-1. Folsom will chalk this up to a learning experience.
De La Salle or De La Stomp as the Spartans have become best known has habitually driven even the most formidable teams into the turf for decades, and the Spartans did so against a state-ranked No. 3 Folsom group that came in averaging 48 points. State No. 1 De La Salle (14-0) extended its unbeaten streak against NorCal foes to 238 games since 1991.
Since 1984, the Spartans have gone an unfathomable 318-5-2 against NorCal teams in pretty much putting a stamp on the art of execution, simplicity with the veer running game and overall effort.
And lifetime under famed coach Bob Ladouceur since 1979, De La Salle improved to 5-0 against Sacramento-area teams and 32-0 against Sac-Joaquin Section competition.
So the Spartans will head back to Carson next weekend in an attempt to four-peat in the CIF Open Bowl and secure the program's 18th end-of-season state No. 1 finish by Cal-Hi Sports since 1987.
The Spartans left little doubt from the start in churning out methodical drives. Tiapepe Vitale scored on a three-yard run to cap his team's first drive. His one-yard score with 45 seconds left in the half produced a 28-7 lead, and his six-yard run in the third made it 35-7. He rushed for 117 yards, and backfield mate Das Tautalatasi went for 94.
Folsom, with a young roster and scores of talent on the lower levels, collectively promises to regroup. Bulldogs quarterback Jake Browning threw for 282 yards on 38-of-64 passing and broke the state's single-season passing mark with 5,246 yards, eclipsing Tanner Trosin's total of 5,185 for Folsom set last season.
Browning also passed for two touchdowns, giving him 63 this season, one shy of the state record set by Robert De La Cruz of Cathedral-Los Angeles in 1999.
But Browning was sacked six times, all in the first half. Remarkably, De La Salle rushed only four players, but a Folsom line that had won the line-of-scrimmage tussle in the season's first 14 weeks met its match.
Browning, just a sophomore, was intercepted three times. He had little time to set up partly because he hasn't faced a team this fast and star-studded with a national recruit defensive end in Austin Hooper (he has 18 major-college offers) and USC-commit linebacker Michael Hutchings.
"He's good, and they pushed us a few times, but we didn't break," Ladouceur said.
Folsom coaches Troy Taylor and Kris Richarson said the plan was to the maintain the same sort of demeanor and approach to this game as any other, even though everyone knew this was a game unlike no other.
"They're so good," Taylor said of De La Salle. "It's the best tackling team I've ever seen."
Folsom assistant coach Bobby Fresques has known De La Salle defensive coordinator Terry Eidson for years. He said of the Spartans, who cleared the bench in the fourth quarter with a 42-7 lead, "You can see why they're such a great program, and they do things the right way."