High School Sports

Four Sacramento-area teams, four towns prepare for CIF State football finals

Folsom quarterback Kaiden Bennett, right, gets blocking help from teammate Logan Harrison while taking the ball on a keeper during their NorCal Regional Division 1 championship game against Central High at Koligian Stadium in Fresno on Friday, Dec. 7, 2018.
Folsom quarterback Kaiden Bennett, right, gets blocking help from teammate Logan Harrison while taking the ball on a keeper during their NorCal Regional Division 1 championship game against Central High at Koligian Stadium in Fresno on Friday, Dec. 7, 2018. ckohlruss@fresnobee.com

Friday was a triumphant night for three towns that embrace their high school football heroes, and it was a time of reflection for another that similarly supports athletics.

That’s four public schools of varying enrollment sizes - Folsom, Del Oro, Rio Linda and Colfax - carving out legacies in a prep sporting world too often dominated by private schools.

In Fresno, Folsom blasted past a 13-0 Central team 84-46 in the CIF Northern California Division I-AA championship. It resembled a basketball score but was actually the greatest display of skill players at work in regional history at a stunning record clip. The point total was the most in CIF Regional play.

Folsom now seeks a state championship repeat and the program’s fourth CIF banner this decade. While it is true that quarterback Kaiden Bennett and terrifically talented brothers Daniyel and Joe Ngata grew up in Reno before arriving at Folsom before their freshman seasons, the core of the Bulldogs are products of the youth feeder programs. Bennett accounted for nine touchdowns against Central.

It’s added up to a perfect storm of fast-forward football, or what Folsom coach Kris Richardson likes to call “the blue and red avalanche.”

Said Central coach Kyle Biggs of Folsom, “They are on a whole different level.”

In Loomis, Del Oro continued to live on the edge, and it continues to stand tall in doing “what Del Oro does,” according to coach Jeff Walters.

The man is emotionally spent, looking ashen gray from lack of sleep and too much hollering on the sideline. But he’s gassed for all the wonderfully right reasons, given he’s doing this at his old school, in his town, surrounded by his people.

The Golden Eagles beat Saint Francis of Mountain View 14-13 on a last-minute touchdown pass from Carson Jarratt to Matthew Smart, who may still be signing autographs and doing selfies with the people of Placer County this weekend.

A week earlier, Smart’s late 42-yard fumble return for a touchdown rallied Del Oro past Central Catholic of Modesto 20-17 to win the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II championship. His effort Friday, including a 79-yard touchdown play, allowed the Golden Eagles to win the Division 2-AA championship.

Smart downplays his role in all of this, humble to the core, insisting he is just a part of a team that finds a way. Jarratt sized it up when he said after the game, “We are a big family. This community, this football team, this school, I can’t believe the things we do. The sky is the limit for us. How this community rallies around us is honestly truly amazing.”

Said Walters, a Del Oro alum, “I hope it means that Del Oro is still Del Oro. It is a very special thing to give back to this community that eats, sleeps and breathes football.”

The deep breathing continues Friday with a doubleheader of sorts. Del Oro is in a CIF State final for the fifth time this decade, seeking its second banner in three years.

The Golden Eagles play Grace Brethren of Simi Valley at 4 p.m. at Cerritos College in Norwalk, followed by Folsom’s game against Cathedral Catholic (12-1) of San Diego. Imagine the double-whammy statement Folsom (13-1) and Del Oro (13-1) can make if they cap seasons with victories over private schools.

Del Oro’s loss was to Folsom for the Sierra Foothill League championship. Folsom’s loss was to De La Salle, unbeaten against NorCal competition since 1992.

Rio Linda traveled to Red Bluff to compete in its first NorCal Regional final, topping West Valley of Cottonwood 21-13 in Division 5-AA play. Cameron Skattebo rushed for 273 yards and two touchdowns, and he tossed a 50-yard touchdown to quarterback Tyson Ybarra.

Skattebo, a junior, has 3,191 yards rushing and 39 touchdowns in one of the region’s great single-season efforts.. Rio Linda is buzzing on campus, in town and in the local shops.

“It’s huge for this town,” Knights coach Jack Garceau said. “The town doesn’t have the best reputation, but it is full of solid people that work hard and care about the community.

“They deserve this as much as the kids do. I couldn’t be happier for those people.”

More good vibes in Rio Linda: The Knights (12-2) will host San Gorgonio (12-3) of San Bernardino at 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, for the state championship, the first for any team sport in school history.

At the same time, Colfax (13-0) will host San Diego High (11-2) in the CIF State 5-A final.

Colfax did not play a NorCal game because the projected opponents from the North Coast Section had their seasons pushed back two weeks due to smoke from the Camp Fire that devastated Butte County.

Decades-long Colfax Record sports editor Mike Ray offered this juicy tidbit on Facebook on Saturday on the biggest things to “ever happen in Colfax,” including: “President Herbert Hoover’s visit in 1932, the opening of Colfax High in 1959, the Olympic torch passing through town on the way to the 1960 Winter Games in Squaw Valley, Ronald McDonald visiting town to open a McDonald’s in 2002.”

Ray capped his post with, “hey, not bad for a little town that still doesn’t have a traffic signal.”

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

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