Folsom High School co-coaches Kris Richardson and Troy Taylor remember the skepticism they heard as they built their football program from solid 5- or 6-win seasons into a national power.
After all, coaches are competitive too.
When we first started to run the spread a few years ago, we heard it all You guys are bozos! Itll never work! Richardson said. Obviously, it works, and weve got a great thing rolling.
Do they ever.
Richardson and Taylor, The Bees Coaches of the Year, have led the Bulldogs to 28 victories the past two seasons, the most ever in a two-year stretch in this region. Folsom, top ranked by The Bee all season, was ranked No. 3 in the state by Cal-Hi Sports until losing to national power De La Salle in the NorCal Regional Open championship.
Folsom repeated as Delta River League champion, sailing unscathed through a conference considered among the best in Northern California. The Bulldogs beat Oak Ridge 49-17 to win the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I title. They also beat Jesuit twice, including 42-35 in a D-I section semifinal.
Richardson, a scholarship lineman at the University New Mexico, works with the offensive line that has been the foundation of the Bulldogs success. Taylor, The Bees Player of the Year at Cordova in 1985 before setting career passing marks at Cal, worked closely with junior quarterback Jake Browning, who set state records for passing yards and touchdown passes and is The Bee Player of the Year.
Richardson and Taylors cool temperament carries over to the team.
Richardson calls Taylor a mad scientist. I try to prepare our linemen to help him work his magic.
Said Taylor: Kris and I are on the same page. Sometimes with co-coaches, there can be conflict, but for us, theres one direction with two coaches with different skill sets. And we have an incredible staff at all levels around us, all the way down to the junior program.
Taylor said its important for coaches to make adjustments. Folsom went from a power running team last decade to the spread in an effort to be more successful in the postseason. From 2004 through 2007, Folsom was 22-18 with no playoff victories, but the Bulldogs then caught fire, going 9-2 in 2008, 11-2 in 2009, 14-1 with a CIF State Division II title in 2010, 11-3 in 2011 and then 14-1 the last two seasons.
Before Browning, Folsom excelled with quarterbacks who could pass or run. Browning, a pocket passer, led a more dynamic offense this season with as many as three backs to work with.
You have to evolve, Taylor said. Im a huge believer that you have to improve every year. You never want to get to a point where youre blaming players for a lack of success. You need to bend, carve, mold the system around the players you have. And we put it on ourselves as coaches to improve as a program.
Richardson recalled another conversation with coaches and fans who wondered if Folsom would flat-line after so much success with quarterbacks Dano Graves and Tanner Trosin.
It was, What happens when you have a quarterback who doesnt run? You guys are done! Richardson said. Then Jake Browning comes along. Believe me, were just getting started.