Kris Richardson and Troy Taylor know when to ease off the accelerator.
The Folsom High School co-coaches’ offense is so prolific, they pulled their starters at halftime of two games and after the first series of the third quarter in another.
Folsom, The Bee’s No. 1 team, has overwhelmed four quality opponents: Cathedral Catholic of San Diego 55-10, Clovis North of Fresno 49-13, No. 16 Pleasant Grove 55-6 and then-No. 15 Burbank 61-13. Coaches from those teams thanked the Folsom staff for showing mercy when it’s common to play starters into the third quarter of routs.
Quarterback Jake Browning has 27 touchdown passes despite sitting out seven quarters. The defense has forced a lot of three-and-outs, and the offense has maximized opportunities with 10 first-half possessions against Pleasant Grove and nine against Burbank, highlighted by numerous 50-yard-plus scoring plays.
“We’re getting a lot of reserves in, and it does wonders for their confidence, of really feeling like being a part of the team,” Taylor said.
The coaches heard talk in past seasons that they were trying to pile up statistics.
“We don’t do that,” said Richardson, who expects his starters to play all four quarters Friday night against No. 6 Granite Bay in a Sierra Foothill League opener. “The last three games, our second, third and fourth guys played the second half. We’re playing everyone. People see the big scores but don’t realize we’ve pulled the starters. We’re playing lights-out football.”
Browning and Granite Bay linebacker Cameron Smith have signed financial aid agreements with Washington and USC, respectively. They will graduate early and enroll in the Pacific-12 Conference universities in January. Browning and Smith, both three-year starters, have played each other once, in the 2013 season opener won by Folsom.
That team started 1-3, then had a team meeting after reaching 4-4 amid brewing tension among players and with parents and boosters.
“It was like a funeral, and I told our guys that we were better than this,” said then-Herd coach Steve DaPrato. “Rusty McLain, one of our linemen and leaders, stood up, said something strong, told the guys that it was us and not anyone else, and everyone relaxed. The pressure was off. I told them, ‘If we get into the playoffs, we won’t lose.’ ”
And they didn’t. Behind quarterback Thom Schildmeyer, running backs Greg Folena and Brian Brown and a defense led by Mike Halvorson, Roy Turner and Wayne Toppila, Elk Grove beat four teams in the playoffs that were a combined 42-3-1, including Nevada Union 9-6 in the opener for the program’s first playoff victory. After downing McClatchy – with Donald Hair, the state touchdown rushing record holder – and a 12-0 Highlands team that included eventual NFL players Scott Galbraith and Chris Oldham, Elk Grove beat 13-0 Grace Davis of Modesto 22-3.
When it was over, DaPrato held up a piece of sod and proclaimed, “Cinderella has come to the ball.”
• Tight end Ryan Sullivan of No. 5 Oak Ridge has verbally committed to pitch for Fresno State.
• Escalon coach Mark Loureiro can tie the section record for career victories Friday at Bear River. He is 260-50-1 with eight small-school section championships in 14 title game appearances. Loureiro, a recent section Hall of Fame inductee, played for Escalon. Max Miller, now retired, is the section leader with 261 wins, mostly during two Cordova stints. The active area wins leader is Mike Alberghini of Grant with 241.