Three seniors entered this high school football season with a similar goal: Compete and conquer.
They did that, and then some, in a record-breaking season that will be remembered for decades.
Folsom quarterback Jake Browning is The Bee’s All-Metro Football Player of the Year for a second consecutive season after setting national and state passing records in a 16-0 season. Monterey Trail running back Trey Nahhas is the Offensive Player of the Year after leading the Sac-Joaquin Section in rushing, and Folsom defensive end Sam Whitney is the Defensive Player of the Year as the leader of the region’s most physical and opportunistic defense.
And Folsom co-coaches Kris Richardson and Troy Taylor repeated as The Bee Coaches of the Year after guiding perhaps the greatest team in section history all the way to the CIF State Division I championship.
Folsom emerged as the second-most-prolific team in national high school history, and tops all-time on the West Coast, with a roster that could send as many as eight players to Division I college programs on scholarship.
“Wow, what a year, and what great players,” Richardson said of his season and The Bee’s three award winners.
Browning capped his three-year Folsom varsity career with a 44-2 record, his only losses coming to national powerhouse De La Salle in his sophomore and junior seasons. Known for his humility, the Washington-bound Browning spoke more glowingly of his teammates than his remarkable passing numbers this season that include 5,790 yards and a national-record-tying 91 touchdowns. The first prep quarterback in the country to pass for 5,000 yards in three consecutive seasons, Browning finished with a national-record 229 career touchdown passes and 16,775 passing yards – third most in history and most among large-school quarterbacks.
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Browning combined for more touchdowns than any player in national history, which is all the more amazing considering there are 15,000 high schools and football has been played for decades.
“The memories, the friendships will always be there, and they’re always going to be better than the numbers,” Browning said. “This was a perfect ending to the season. I’m very proud, excited, absolutely.”
The 6-1, 190-pound Nahhas flourished in Monterey Trail’s run-heavy veer offense. He ran for a school-record 2,599 yards and 34 touchdowns, averaging 7.5 yards a carry. He rumbled for 272 yards against Grant, 232 against Elk Grove, 174 against Jesuit, 345 against Davis, 242 against Cosumnes Oaks and a section playoff record 398 against Merced in a D-I quarterfinal. The one team Nahhas couldn’t gain much traction against was Folsom in a section semifinal, managing 65 yards and a score in a 56-14 loss.
“Best team we played,” said Nahhas, who ran for two touchdowns and was South MVP in last Saturday’s Bee Optimist All-Star Classic. “I was really shocked at what I did this year. I expected to have a good year, but you don’t anticipate these kinds of numbers. I didn’t want to get tackled or stopped, so I ran hard, used a stiff arm, spins, anything to gain yards.”
Nahhas took a recruiting trip last month to Cal and has another lined up this month at Cal Poly.
It wasn’t so much that 6-3, 225-pound Whitney had 13 sacks for 134 yards of losses that made him a standout for Folsom. It was his relentless energy and drive to disrupt plays, his coaches said. A weight-room fanatic blessed with an explosive first step, the Sacramento State-bound Whitney proved to be too quick and too driven on the edge. Whitney said he played in honor of his mother, Jennifer, who died from cancer in 2011.
“She was so strong and kept fighting, and I carry her with me,” Whitney said. “I did all of this for her and my teammates.”
Whitney labored through a bad ankle in the playoffs but set the tone with his pursuit.
“He was the most incredible, most unstoppable defensive guy we had; explosive, fast and tough,” Richardson said. “Sam completely dominated the playoffs and played with such determination and fire.”
The entire Folsom team did, and area coaches credited Richardson and Taylor for that. Playoff losses in 2012 and 2013 to De La Salle prompted Richardson and Taylor to make their players stronger, bigger, faster, and Folsom looked the part. The Bulldogs trailed just once this season. No one bullied the Bulldogs in the trenches, or in the open field as players became exceptional tacklers. Richardson worked closely with the offensive linemen, who paved the way for running backs and became superb pass blockers, giving Browning time to pick apart teams.
Taylor worked with the skill-position players, Browning in particular, who proved to be the best in a long line to come before him.
“Troy Taylor’s the greatest offensive mind I’ve ever been around,” said Richardson, whose team outclassed a stacked Sierra Foothill League for the crown before winning the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I and CIF Northern California D-I titles en route to the state championship. “What Troy does, formation-wise and schematically, and how our run game had power, and how our linemen get after you, and the way we mix in the pass, I’d hate to play us. We have a great mix of ultra-fast speed on plays. We’d be a nightmare to deal with. I really think this is one of the greatest teams in state history.”
Said Taylor, simply, “It really was a perfect storm. All the hard work, the commitment, everyone totally unselfish, it was unique. You start with a guy like Jake Browning, the work ethic, the focus, the intelligence, and you tie in the humility and how great of a teammate he is, and you’ve got something special in that player and this team.”
Follow Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Jake Browning, Folsom, QB, Sr.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Trey Nahhas, Monterey Trail, RB, Sr.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Sam Whitney, Folsom, DE, Sr.
CO-COACHES OF THE YEAR
Kris Richardson, Troy Taylor, Folsom
OFFENESE AT A GLANCE
Matt Jimison, Vista del Lago, Sr.
Beau Bisharat, Jesuit, Jr.
Marcel Brown, Rio Linda, Sr.
DeShawn Collins, Grant, Jr.
Josiah Deguara, Folsom, Sr.
Cole Thompson, Folsom, Sr.
Trey Udoffia, Del Oro, Jr.
Will Stabbert, Granite Bay, Sr.
Ryan Sullivan, Oak Ridge, Sr.
Johnny Capra, Placer, Sr.
Cody Creason, Folsom, Sr.
Darrin Paulo, Grant, Sr.
Soape Tupou, Grant, Jr.
Jonah Williams, Folsom, Jr.
Donovan Brown, Grant, Sr.
Larry Hardy, Inderkum, Sr.
Mister Harriel, Antelope, Sr.
Bailey Laolagi, Folsom, Sr.
Justice Shelton-Mosley, Capital Christian, Sr.
Alex Godinez, Natomas, Sr.
Cole Brownholtz, Jesuit, Sr.
Eltoro Allen, Elk Grove, Sr.
Colby Carrera, Vista del Lago, Jr.
Tim Rawlins, Colfax, Sr.
Josh Bist, Ponderosa, Sr.
Malcolm Thomas, Woodcreek, Sr.
Daniel Tveretinov, Rosemont, Sr.
Tucker Fisk, Davis, So.
David Moala, Grant, Jr.
Will Koch, Folsom, Sr.
Kyle Powers, Roseville, Sr.
Matt Tyler, Rocklin, Sr.
Orlando Umana, Grant, So.
George Uribe, Vista del Lago, Sr.
Keshaun Ates, Burbank, Sr.
Isaiah Bailey, Jesuit, Sr.
Drew Lackowski, Oak Ridge, Sr.
Manny Scott-Anderson, Elk Grove, Sr.
Chris Williams, Laguna Creek, Sr.
Kevin Loheit, El Camino, Jr.
Quarterbacks: Montel Aaron, Antelope; Nick Bonniksen, El Dorado; Ian Book, Oak Ridge; Zak Burden, Rio Linda; Buddy Enriquez, Rosemont; Will Floyd, Rocklin; Jonathan Henry, Inderkum; Elias J’Beily, Center; Jacob Lowrie, Winters; Clark Pietromonaco, Placer; Max O’Rourke, Rocklin; Jaaron Stallworth, Cosumnes Oaks; E.J. Viacrusis, Monterey Trail; Caden Voges, Sacramento
Running backs: Aaron Birch, Marysville; Jaqwaun Brown-Collins, Laguna Creek; Mike Green, Grant; Dorrzel Hicks, Grant; Tivon Johnson, Natomas; Dante’ Love, River Valley; Tobias Marshall, Center; Chaz Matthews, Winters; Brandon Medina, Pioneer; Cole Morse, Davis; Mo Nieves, Nevada Union; Eddie Ortiz, Rosemont; Austin Rigsby, Union Mine; Michael Roots, Burbank; Nathaniel Short, Dixon; Webster Said-Kamal, El Camino; Devaun Welch, Antelope; Bryan Weldy, Folsom
Wide receivers: Devin Baldwin, Cordova; Nate Brown, Union Mine; Xavier Cox, Grant; Andre Flury, Monterey Trail; Jake Jeffrey, Folsom; Brandon Johnson, Franklin; Mason Hurst, Del Oro; Blake Laurin, Rocklin; Brady Mays, Rocklin; Frankie O’Neal, Placer; Brad Rittenhouse, Vista del Lago; Tyler Stoever, Valley Christian Academy; Jalen Swanigan, Christian Brothers; Eric Toles, Cosumnes Oaks
Offensive line: Bryce Andros, Yuba City; Richard Ayers, Laguna Creek; Charles Bell, Grant; Chase Bixby, Granite Bay; Kyle Cherry, Christian Brothers; Hunter Clark, Rio Linda; Jake Coveau, Folsom; Austin Danker, El Dorado; Brett Foster, Sheldon; Ranjot Gill, Valley; Daniel Grimes, Del Oro; Jordan Kuphaldt, Yuba City; Josh Leatherby, Jesuit; Jaelen Lewis, Antelope; Brian Little, Colfax; Amos Loto, Cordova; Nick Moody, Bradshaw Christian; Chigozie Nnoruka, Kennedy; Sam Osterhout, El Dorado; Robert Paylor, Jesuit; Jack Reichel, West Campus; Jared Shaw, Capital Christian; Puna Tongotea, Inderkum; Jimmy Vaughn, Bear River; Noah Young, Rocklin; Will Young, Casa Roble
All-purpose: Jermaine Bell, Monterey Trail; Tyler Brendel, Granite Bay; Bryce Crouch, Roseville; Grant Dragmire, Bradshaw Christian; Dejon Glover, Natomas; Evyn Holtz, Rocklin; Logan Hurst, Del Oro; Jamarri Jackson, Christian Brothers; Lamar Jackson, Franklin; Davaeon Johnson, Antelope; Mikaele Lomano, San Juan; TieNeal Martin, Grant; Brenden Nutt, Golden Sierra; Orlando Sanchez, Johnson; Kyle Uclaray, Bear River; Kijana Zigler, El Camino
DEFENSE AT A GLANCE
Ryan Robards, Elk Grove, Jr.
Nu’umotu Falo, Inderkum, Sr.
Chase Hatada, Rocklin, Jr.
Lukas Hendricks, Folsom, Sr.
Lonny Powell, Sacramento, Sr.
Sai Ta’amu, Elk Grove, Sr.
Chris Atteberry, Grant, Sr.
Isaac Lessard, Jesuit, Sr.
Spencer Sheff, Elk Grove, Sr.
Cameron Smith, Granite Bay, Sr.
Sam Whittingham, Folsom, Sr.
Kyron Basped, Sacramento, Sr.
Devin Cates, River Valley, Sr.
Shaunard Harts, Elk Grove, Sr.
John Horn, Yuba City, Sr.
Gage Sorenson, Rocklin, Sr.
Chris Guillen, Christian Brothers, Sr.
Dominic Balmer, Woodcreek, Sr.
Mitchell Bullough, Franklin, Sr.
Jerod Nooner, Folsom, Sr.
Rodney Spidell, Monterey Trail, Sr.
Logan Woods, Del Oro, Jr.
Jim Carter, El Camino, Sr.
Tyler Crandall, Folsom, Sr.
Carl Granderson, Grant, Sr.
Dusty Howenstine, Rocklin, Sr.
John Voter, Bear River, Sr.
Tre’ Ball, Granite Bay, Sr.
Caelan Barnes, Antelope, Sr.
Tyler Clanin, El Dorado, Sr.
Dylan Smethurst, Rocklin, Sr.
Edward Ware, Capital Christian, Sr.
Defensive line: Nick Aibuedefe, Capital Christian; Jacques Cheatham, Grant; Colton Clausen, Pleasant Grove; Kori Collons, Jesuit; Logan Crawford, Placer; Ronell Deo, Franklin; Joe DeMartini, Center; David Domachuk, Cordova; Keawe Efhan, Bradshaw Christian; Cannon Fetter, Bear River; Jabar Hally, Inderkum; Fila Hingano, Rio Linda; Joshua Johnson, Cosumnes Oaks; Chris Kays, Winters; Azat Kudbalayan, Cordova; Mitch Morse, Granite Bay; Chance Murphy, Valley Christian Academy; Trevor Nunez, Capital Christian; Gerald Pliman, Burbank; Gunnar Simpson, Bear River; West Simpson, Sacramento; Patrick Walker, Franklin; Phil White, Bradshaw Christian
Linebackers: Beau Baggett, Colfax; Dalton Bannister, Del Oro; Josh Belendez, Nevada Union; Nolan Book, Oak Ridge; Neville Bood, Monterey Trail; Isaac Cisneros, Del Campo; Dusty Dutra, Casa Roble; Luis Gomez, Capital Christian; Derrick Henderson, Inderkum; Davion Johnson, San Juan; Pieter Koopman, Rio Linda; Kyle Krogman, Bear River; Elijah Orr, Grant; Tanner Robison, Del Oro; Marcellus Roberts, Center; Talen Van Cleave, El Dorado; Rahsaan York, Franklin
Defensive backs: Parker Boone, Folsom; Justin Burrage, Del Oro; Khayri Carter, Jesuit; Wes Chock, Granite Bay; Calvin Gardner, Folsom; C.J. Garmon, Inderkum; Malik Goss-Pruitt, Grant; Ben Hart, Del Oro; Lance Harris, Del Campo; Bryce Kasch, Roseville; Garrett Kauppila, Rocklin; Lenny Nelson, Woodcreek; Dawson Weber, Pleasant Grove; Kauron Williams, Rosemont
HOW THE TEAMS WERE PICKED
The Bee’s All-Metro Football teams were selected by staff writer Joe Davidson, based on observation and input from area media and through submitted coach nominations.
THE BEE’S FINAL TOP 20 RANKINGS
1. Folsom 16-0
2. Grant 14-1
3. Inderkum 12-2
4. Jesuit 9-3
5. Elk Grove 10-3
6. Monterey Trail 8-5
7. Granite Bay 9-4
8. Rocklin 9-3
9. Del Oro 6-6
10. Franklin 7-5
11. Burbank 7-5
12. Sacramento 10-3
13. Rio Linda 10-3
14. Cosumnes Oaks 8-3
15. Vista del Lago 8-4
16. Christian Brothers 8-3
17. Placer 8-3
18. Bear River 11-2
19. El Dorado 10-1
20. Capital Chrsitian 13-1