Six weeks into high school football season, some things are abundantly clear.
Folsom is every bit the region’s and Sac-Joaquin Section’s No. 1 team, despite claims on social media by the bitter that the Bulldogs must be living large through transfers, paying off referees and manipulating schedules. How about the formula most championship programs adhere to across the land: hard work and tradition (for the record, Folsom has lost considerably more players via transfer than it has gained, and referees are not bought, nor can set schedules be manipulated).
The Bulldogs won their 20th consecutive Sierra Foothill League game on Friday, downing previous No. 2-ranked Granite Bay 35-14 after trailing 7-0 through one quarter. Game balls went to those in the trenches and downfield blocking, including running back Daniyel Ngata.
These sorts of streaks just don’t happen in this league, and it will be curious to see if Folsom – a team full of junior and sophomore starters – can maintain it with the likes of Oak Ridge, Del Oro and Rocklin looming. Del Oro is on the schedule next, and Oak Ridge caps the regular-season slate in what could be a No. 1 vs. No. 2 encounter in El Dorado Hills.
The Delta League is also a fun one, and it played out as such on Friday when Sheldon scored in the final seconds to beat Franklin, 28-24. These teams remain ranked next to each other, Sheldon at No. 8 and Franklin at No. 9.
Elk Grove moved up two spots to No. 11 after holding off previous No. 10 Grant 40-31 in a run-heavy fun one.
Grant is No. 15 now, the lowest the Pacers have been ranked since Mike Alberghini took over as head coach before the 1991 season when the Pacers started the season unranked (following a two-win season in 1990). Grant beat preseason No. 1 Elk Grove to start that 1991 season, en route to a 10-0 regular season (Elk Grove went 13-1 and won the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship).
Grant this season has also lost to Rocklin (24-14) and Franklin (17-9), and the Pacers need wins to qualify for the playoffs for the 27th consecutive season, an ongoing section record.
Sacramento moved up two spots to No. 4, not because the Dragons are rolling the Metropolitan Conference but because their 28-19 loss to Folsom is stronger than Granite Bay’s setback to Folsom. Folsom scored on an interception return against Sacramento and also reached the end zone in the closing moments in a wake-up of sorts that has also boosted the Bulldogs.
Jesuit inched up two spots to No. 10 as it continues to pick up speed after starting the season ranked No. 2 and falling to Granite Bay and Folsom. The Marauders play at Elk Grove on Friday in a showdown of terrific backs: Lorenzo Burkes and Isaiah Rutherford of Jesuit, and Jake Jordan and Zion Thomas of Elk Grove.
Showdowns also loom in the Capital Valley Conference, where surging No. 13 Del Campo readies for dangerous Cosumnes Oaks, which handed Oakmont its first setback earlier this season. The Pioneer Valley League features No. 19 Bear River, No. 20 Colfax and bubble teams Lincoln and Placer.
THE BEE’S TOP 20
With last week’s ranking in parentheses
1. Folsom (1) 6-0
The Bulldogs have wins this season over Granite Bay, Jesuit, Sacramento, Oakdale and Idaho’s No. 4 team, so yes, still plenty of snarl and bite to this bunch.
2. Oak Ridge (2) 5-0
The Trojans are right where they expected to be, in position to win the stacked SFL, but the road gets rocky from here, starting with Rocklin.
3. Inderkum (4) 6-0
The Tigers run over teams with speed and force, and defend with equal purpose as coaches guard against a letdown.
4. Sacramento (6) 4-1
The Dragons have played Folsom closer than anyone this season as they continue to defend their city-school image (it should be that of a terrific team and school).
5. Granite Bay (2) 5-1
The Grizzlies had sustained drives against Folsom but fell victim to the big play, and now a bye comes at the right time to regroup and recover.
6. Del Oro (5) 4-2
The Golden Eagles have a hard-nosed runner in Brice Edwards, a strong offensive line and a defense that loves to attack, headed by Andrew Birch.
7. Rocklin (7) 4-1
The Thunder is focused on two things: all things Oak Ridge and a showdown in El Dorado Hills for SFL positioning.
8. Sheldon (9) 4-1
The Huskies have made it a habit of winning games late the last two seasons, including Tyrell Smith’s late plunge to beat Franklin in the wild Delta League.
9. Franklin (8) 4-1
There’s no shame losing late at Sheldon, and the beauty of this sport is a shot at redemption as a showdown looms with run-heavy Monterey Trail.
10. Jesuit (12) 3-2
The Marauders struggled on defense in their first two games but have come on strong since, with another stout test looming against fast and prolific Elk Grove.
11. Elk Grove (13) 3-2
The winning streak is three after opening with setbacks to Inderkum and Bay Area power Serra of San Mateo, and it officially rates as a big game against Big Red now.
12. Antelope (14) 5-0
The Titans have a nifty league winning streak brewing, having won 19 in a row in Capital Valley Conference play with danger games looming.
13. Del Campo (15) 5-0
The Cougars are a veteran lot, having suffered close losses and blowouts a year ago and returning the favor in full now with a CVC title in mind.
14. River Valley (16) 5-0
The Falcons have answered every challenge and are 5-0 for just the second time in program history as players hailed co-coach Dave Humphers for win No. 200 (195 of those coming at Nevada Union).
15. Grant (8) 2-3
The Pacers have been hammered by injuries and mistakes and have been burned by big plays, and no one weeps for the juggernaut. How Grant responds is the key.
16. Capital Christian (11) 3-2
Welcome to Idaho, Capital Christian, which fell hard to Coeur d’Alene 45-7 in allowing 481 yards to the state’s No. 2 team. Now answer the bell.
17. Monterey Trail (17) 3-2
A game ball for Wayne Doroen, please, as the lineman had four tackles for loss on defense and paved the way for the offense to roll up 370 yards rushing and six scores to beat Pleasant Grove.
18. Christian Brothers (19) 3-2
The Falcons have a player in Tyler Green, who had 12 interceptions on defense a year ago and now catches touchdowns from Gunnor Faulk with regularity.
19. Bear River (20) 5-0
The Bruins are rested and ready for a Pioneer Valley League run, and the whopper of a showdown that looms at Lincoln.
20. Colfax (-) 5-0
The Falcons win despite declining enrollment, a credit to guru coach Tony Martello, who seeks his 13th league title in 21 seasons and 18th playoff berth. A master.
Bubble teams: (alphabetical order): Center (3-2), Cordova (3-2), Cosumnes Oaks (2-3), Highlands (4-1), Lincoln (4-1), Marysville (2-4), Oakmont (3-2), Placer (4-1), Pleasant Grove (2-3), River City (5-1), Rio Linda (4-2), Rio Americano (4-1), Vista del Lago (2-3), Whitney (2-3), Woodland (4-1), Yuba City (3-3).
THE BEE’S SAC-JOAQUIN SECTION TOP 20
From 190 schools in the second-largest of California’s 10 sections.
1. Folsom (6-0)
2. Oak Ridge (5-0)
3. Central Catholic-Modesto (4-0)
4. Inderkum (6-0)
5. Sacramento (4-1)
6. Granite Bay (5-1)
7. Del Oro (4-2)
8. Oakdale (4-1)
9. St. Mary’s-Stockton (3-2)
10. Manteca (4-1)
11. Rocklin (4-1)
12. Sheldon (4-1)
13. Franklin (4-1)
14. Vacaville (2-3)
15. Jesuit (3-2)
16. Elk Grove (3-2)
17. Antelope (4-0)
18. Del Campo (4-0)
19. Grant (2-3)
20. Downey-Modesto (6-0)
This weekend’s schedule (Oct. 5-7)
All games start between 7-7:30 p.m., unless noted:
Rio Americano at El Camino
No. 6 Del Oro at No. 1 Folsom
No. 7 Rocklin at No. 2 Oak Ridge
No. 3 Inderkum at River City
No. 4 Sacramento vs. Laguna Creek at Cosumnes River College, 6 p.m.
No. 8 Sheldon at Davis
No. 9 Franklin vs. No. 17 Monterey Trail at Cosumnes Oaks
No. 10 Jesuit at No. 11 Elk Grove
Roseville at No. 12 Antelope
Cosumnes Oaks at No. 13 Del Campo
Woodland at No. 14 River Valley
No. 15 Grant vs. Pleasant Grove at Sheldon
Bishop Manogue-Nevada at No. 16 Capital Christian
No. 19 Bear River at Lincoln
No. 20 Colfax at Placer
Byes: No. 5 Granite Bay
Valley at Burbank, 6 p.m.
Mesa Verde vs. Natomas
Dixon at Marysville
Center at Foothill
Rosemont at El Dorado
Cordova at Galt
Liberty Ranch at Union Mine
Woodcreek at Nevada Union
Bella Vista at Oakmont
Ponderosa at Whitney
Vista del Lago at Casa Roble
Delta at Western Sierra
Highlands at Rio Vista
Rio Linda at Yuba City
Pioneer at Millennium
Valley Christian at Woodland Christian
San Juan vs. Encina at El Camino
Kennedy vs. McClatchy at Hughes Stadium
Johnson vs. Florin at Monterey Trail
No. 18 Christian Brothers vs. Mira Loma at Hughes Stadium