The last time this program lost to a Northern California foe, traffic in the Bay Area was bearable, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” was a TV hit and a digital pager cost a tidy $8 a month to display phone numbers from someone eager for you to call back.
It’s been that long — 28 years — since De La Salle High School suffered a football setback to a team north of Fresno.
On Friday night at Prairie City Stadium, an overflow crowd of 6,000-plus caught an up-close glimpse of what makes the nationally renown Spartans of Concord so formidable.
They block, they tackle, they compete. They are cohesive, unified and superbly conditioned and coached. They’re also human and make mistakes, but rarely does it cost them victories.
De La Salle took out Folsom 42-27 in a meeting of the top two teams in the NorCal field to run its streak to an unfathomable 300-0-2.
The Spartans (3-1) devour and dominate with simplicity and humility for a high-profile program. Dorian Hale rushed for four touchdowns in expertly running the old-school, run-heavy veer offense for a commanding 35-14 lead in the third quarter.
Hale takes snaps from under center in an era when that just does not happen. He either hands off or takes off, including a 69-yard scoring sprint to open the scoring.
De La Salle led 28-0 after scoring on all its first-half possessions, dominating the time of possession two to one with 14 first downs and one penalty.
Jake Reithmeier had three touchdown passes to keep Folsom competitive, two to Elijhah Badger, including one on the final play of the half, and one to C.J. Hutton. The senior passed for 336 yards, 176 of those to Badger.
Folsom (2-1) scored twice after recovering onside kicks to pull to within 42-27 but ran out of time and gas. De La Salle had just 11 plays for 39 yards in the fourth quarter, but no one doubted which was the better team for four quarters. Or anywhere north of Mater Dei and St. John Bosco, the national heavies residing in Southern California.
De La Salle is 31-0 against the Sac-Joaquin Section since 1982 and 15-0 against the section this decade. That’s 4-0 against Folsom, including twice in CIF NorCal Open Division championship games and a 14-0 score last season. De La Salle this decade is 4-0 against St. Mary’s of Stockton, 3-0 against Del Oro, 2-0 against Central Catholic of Modesto and 1-0 each over Granite Bay and Jesuit.
That’s good work against some heady competition.
“We just haven’t been good enough,” Folsom coach Paul Doherty said of the section in general.
Now Doherty wonders how his team will respond. That’s all that matters now, especially with Folsom (2-1) staring at a Sierra Foothill League showdown in El Dorado Hills against No. 3 Oak Ridge next Friday.
The Bulldogs responded admirably a year ago after the 14-0 setback in Concord, winning their final 14 games, punctuated by a repeat CIF State Division I-AA championship while De La Salle roared to a record 12th consecutive CIF State final and 10th in succession in the elite Open Division.
The lone loss this season for De La Salle was to national No. 1 St Thomas Aquinas of Florida, 24-14. That the Spartans played such a prominent opponent shows how far the program has come.
De La Salle would prefer to play statewide competition, but the program became so good and so intriguing that the demand made sense to schedule anyone, including teams from Texas and the East Coast.
“We never wanted to be a traveling circus,” De La Salle coach Justin Alumbaugh said.
What really put De La Salle on the map was its 151-game winning streak that started after that last NorCal loss, ending in 2004. Imagine that: 12 consecutive perfect seasons.
De La Salle’s latest streak has everyone’s attention, not that the Spartans talk much about it.
“That’s a long time since we lost,” Alumbaugh said. “It’s an anecdote, and it’s a neat one. I understand why people talk about it. These kids weren’t even born the last time we lost (to a NorCal team). I know there are a lot of really good teams in Northern California, including Folsom.”