Big-time high school football in the Sacramento region is the most exciting in years. It’s being showcased Friday night in the Division I regional title tilt between Folsom and Grant, both 14-0 this season.
Barring terrible weather, a crowd of 20,000-plus could fill the stadium at Sacramento State – and for good reason. There are compelling storylines all over the field, as The Bee’s Joe Davidson writes.
Grant is a storied program – piling up the most wins in the region during in the 1990s and 2000s – that is returning to prominence in the inner-city neighborhood of Del Paso Heights. Until last weekend, it last won a section title in 2008 on the way to a state championship.
Folsom is a newer powerhouse – the area’s most successful program this decade – with a blue-turf stadium in the suburbs. Folsom beat Grant in 2010 on the way to a state title, and hasn’t lost a regular season game the last three years.
Grant has a mammoth offensive line, the envy of college coaches, which clears the way for a stable of running backs. As a team, they have run for nearly 5,000 yards and 64 touchdowns. Folsom has an amazing quarterback, Jake Browning, who has thrown for more than 5,000 yards and a state-record 82 touchdowns this year – and set the national record for career touchdown passes with his 220th last Saturday.
Grant has legendary coach Mike Alberghini, who has led the program to seven section titles since 1992. Folsom has Kris Richardson and Troy Taylor, who have a highly unusual co-coaching arrangement.
Despite the differences between the schools, there is a mutual respect and a shared love of high school football and all the pageantry that comes with it. It is a good reminder of the importance to our communities of high school athletics, where most students play competitively for the last time and learn the value of teamwork and sacrifice.
It’s only the second time that Folsom and Grant have faced off in the playoffs. The team that wins tonight will represent Northern California in a State Bowl next weekend and keep alive a dream that doesn’t come along too often – an unbeaten state championship season.