The Bee’s Joe Davidson breaks down the Northern California Regional championship games
Folsom (14-0) vs.
De La Salle (13-0)
• What: NorCal Regional Open Division
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• When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
• Where: Diablo Valley College, Pleasant Hill
• TV: CSNCA
• Outlook: It’s a rematch of unbeatens between the top two teams in Northern California for a shot at playing in a CIF State Bowl. Folsom fell to the Spartans of Concord last season 49-15 and it can’t allow them to get off to a quick start again. De La Salle has the remarkable ability of quickly stretching close games into routs, a trademark over the years for a program that has won 39 consecutive games, 67 in a row against state opponents and having gone 248-0-2 against NorCal competition since 1991. De La Salle scored six rushing touchdowns in last year’s Open, two by John Velasco, who has 1,853 yards and 24 touchdowns this season. For Folsom, quarterback Jake Browning passed 64 times, completing 38 for 284 yards and two touchdowns. He’s back and “better than ever,” according to first-year De La Salle head coach Justin Alumbaugh. As a junior this season, Brown has 5,393 passing yards and 74 touchdown passes. Browning’s offensive line is better, too, but it must deal with perhaps the best defensive front in De La Salle history, a unit headed by national recruits in Larry Allen, Kahlil McKenzie, Boss Tagaloa and Sumner Houston. Allen is the son of Pro Football Hall of Famer Larry Allen. Some of these linemen play both ways. Folsom added more of a running game this season to prepare for De La Salle, knowing it can’t allow an avalanche of Spartans to close in on Browning. De La Salle uses the run-heavy veer with quick line surge off quick snaps. In the view of coaches and media, De La Salle continues to be the most disciplined, efficient team in the state. The Spartans have several running backs, including Antoine Custer (991 yards, 14 touchdowns) to go with quarterback Chris Williams (1,124 passing yards, eight touchdowns; 446 rushing yards, 13 touchdowns).
Del Oro (12-2)
vs. Serra (11-2)
• What: NorCal Regional Division I
• When: Today, 7:30 p.m.
• Where: San Jose City College
• TV: None
• Outlook: This is the first meeting between the storied programs and both schools’ first appearance in the NorCal Division I Regional, though they share a common opponent. Del Oro’s last loss 12 games ago was to De La Salle, which also defeated Serra of San Mateo earlier this season. Del Oro has improved considerably since the loss, and Serra suffered just one other loss, to St. Francis of Mountain View in West Catholic Athletic League play. Del Oro will run with running back Dylan Kainrath (1,657 yards, 23 touchdowns) and pass with red-hot quarterback Michael Moore (eight touchdowns in the past two games; 2,217 passing yards overall, 27 TDs). Del Oro’s strength is line play, headed by two-way standouts Brandon Johnson and Tanner Woods. Linebacker Tyler Meteer is the leader on defense. Serra of the Central Coast Section is also balanced, rushing for 234.6 yards and passing for 183.5. The key is containing quarterback Matthew Fa’aita, who has passed for 1,660 yards and 18 TDs while rushing for 557 yards and seven touchdowns. Kava Cassidy has rushed for 1,414 yards and 16 scores. Coached by Casey Taylor, Del Oro reached a CIF Bowl game in 2011 when Meteer and Woods were sophomore starters. Serra has not played in a state bowl, though it ranks Lynn Swan, Tom Brady and Barry Bonds among its alumni.