High School Sports

Folsom avalanche takes Fresno powerhouse by storm, now seeks fourth CIF state title

Folsom quarterback Kaiden Bennett, left, scampers past Central’s Shando Lopez for a touchdown on a keeper play during their NorCal Regional Division 1 championship game at Koligian Stadium in Fresno on Friday, Dec. 7, 2018.
Folsom quarterback Kaiden Bennett, left, scampers past Central’s Shando Lopez for a touchdown on a keeper play during their NorCal Regional Division 1 championship game at Koligian Stadium in Fresno on Friday, Dec. 7, 2018. ckohlruss@fresnobee.com

The Folsom Bulldogs brought their “blue and red avalanche” act down Highway 99 to Fresno on Friday for a football rumble between storied programs that first slipped on shoulder pads in the 1920s.

The avalanche, this time wearing white jerseys with blue and red trim, stalled at times in the first half, and then it ignited, roaring over a 13-0 Central High School outfit 84-46 to repeat as CIF Northern California Division I-AA champions.

A year ago, Folsom beat these same Grizzlies of the Central Section 54-35 on its home blue turf en route to a 16-0 season.

Sixteen starters returned for Folsom for another go at it, and now the Bulldogs (13-1) will take their spread offense even further south to cap the season with another repeat in mind. Folsom will play Cathedral Catholic of San Diego (11-1) next Friday, Dec. 14, at Cerritos College in Norwalk.

The Bulldogs seek their fourth CIF state title this decade to go with seven Sac-Joaquin Section banners during the same stretch.

In a battle of prolific quarterbacks, Kaiden Bennett again wound up with the desired results over Trent Tompkins. Bennett passed for 320 yards and five touchdowns, and he ran for four scores to halt Central’s 16-game home winning streak.

He has 4,037 yards passing and 61 touchdown this season.

Folsom came in ranked fifth in the state and second to De La Salle in Northern California by Cal-Hi Sports, and Central was rated eighth and third, respectively. Folsom started playing football in 1922 and Central in 1927, so yeah, the programs know their craft a bit over the decades.

Folsom’s loss this season was 14-0 in a season opener at De La Salle, which has not lost to a NorCal opponent north of Fresno since 1991, a streak of 298 games. Folsom wanted to cement a legacy this season, for the players, for the program.

It’s happened, and it’s still evolving.

“We came into the season and wanted to be known as one of the greatest, most dominant, most athletic teams in section history, and we’ve established that,” Folsom coach Kris Richarson said. “Now we want to add to that.”

Folsom shook off three first-quarter turnovers, warmed up and then got hot.

Bennett had touchdown tosses of 5, 78 and 17 yards to Elijhah Badger, a national recruit receiver as a junior. Badger also had a 72-yard kickoff return, thanks in part to a crushing block by Daniyel Ngata, who also rushed for 129 yards, running with power, speed and elusiveness.

Bound for Boise State, Bennett had scoring runs of 1, 1, 12 and 13 yards, and he hit Joe Ngata for a 10-yard score to push Folsom ahead for good at 28-21 in the first half. Noah Jenkins made it 42-21 for Folsom when he returned an interception 31 yards for a score off a tipped pass from defensive lineman Grant Furrey.

CJ Hutton also had a 76-yard scoring sprint for Folsom.

Tompkins, who holds a number of Central Section season and career passing totals, did all he could to keep the Grizzlies in it. Headed to UC Davis, Tompkins had four touchdown passes and a scoring run. But he didn’t play defense, and Central needed about 15 guys on that side of the ball to have a shot.

Follow The Bee’s Joe Davidson: jdavidson@sacbee.com, @SacBee_JoeD, sacbee.com/high-school.
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