The season didn’t end on a cold December Friday night in Carson.
It actually came to a triumphant close in the cozy confines of Folsom High School’s library on Wednesday afternoon, the culmination of a record season with a record scholarship haul.
Seven Bulldogs signed national letters of intent with Division I programs, a regional best to match a record season that included 16 running-clock routs, no defeats and a California Interscholastic Federation State Division I championship.
“When I first got to Folsom in 1995, people wondered why we didn’t have scholarship players,” Folsom co-coach Kris Richardson said. “Scholarships are hard to get, and it took awhile, and you have to be pretty special. Now, today, to have seven D-I guys sign is off-the-charts amazing. These are model guys. College recruiters want that “OKG” players – our kind of guys, high character, good students, excellent players. I can say that about each of these players.”
The journey for this lot started in youth football and included a three-year varsity romp that featured three Sac-Joaquin Section championships, three trips to the NorCal finals, one NorCal title, the state title and the label as the region’s greatest team.
“It’s special to end like this,” said lineman Cody Creason, headed to Arizona. “We’ve always had great chemistry and we worked hard. We take pride in what we do on and off the field and in the community.”
A closer look at each:
▪ Jake Browning: The quarterback who was a two-time Bee Player of the Year and the Cal-Hi Sports Player of the Year, set the national record for career touchdown passes with 229 over three seasons and is already enrolled at Washington.
▪ Creason: The powerfully built guard-tackle was known for his gregarious nature off the field and to have a “nasty disposition” on it, Richardson said.
▪ Josiah Deguara: The receiver bound for Cincinnati was lauded by his coaches for running exceptional routes, catching the ball in heavy traffic and for his physical play as a blocker.
▪ Lukas Hendricks: The defensive end who had a record five sacks in the state-title rout of Oceanside is headed to San Jose State. His older brother, Marcus, a member of the Folsom’s 2010 state-title team, is on scholarship at Air Force.
▪ Bailey Laolagi: Considered the heart and soul of the Bulldogs and nicknamed “Superman” for his weight-room prowess, the linebacker bounced back from a knee injury during the 2013 playoffs. A Cal Poly commit, he switched to UNLV over the weekend.
▪ Cole Thompson: From role player to star, the Harvard-bound receiver set the state season record with 34 touchdown receptions while also making plays on special teams. He said Harvard was “the dream school.”
▪ Sam Whitney: The Bee’s Defensive Player of the Year bound for Boise State dedicated his season to his mother, Jennifer, who died from cancer earlier in his prep career. He was set to go to Sacramento State but switched to Boise State after an 11th-hour recruiting trip.
Folsom linebacker Sam Whittingham will walk on at Utah, where his uncle, Kyle, is the coach.
Linebacker Tyler Crandall will sign with Division II Humboldt State. Other seniors may sign at smaller colleges, Richardson said.
“We were all successful because of a support system of family, the school, the coaches and teammates,” Laolagi said. “What a day.”
Follow Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD.