High School Sports

Preview of this weekend’s Sac-Joaquin Section football championship games

The Bee’s Joe Davidson previews this weekend’s three Sac-Joaquin Section football championship games:

Folsom (13-0) vs. Tracy (10-3)

▪ Level: Division I

▪ When: Saturday, 7 p.m.

▪ Where: Hornet Stadium, Sacramento State

▪ Championship history: Folsom is 5-1 in title games; Tracy is 2-0

▪ What’s at stake: With a victory, Folsom will play in the CIF Northern California Regional Division I title game; Tracy would be a long shot with three losses.

▪ Outlook: Folsom, in a title game for the fifth consecutive season, seeks a Division I repeat in this battle of Bulldogs. Folsom devastates teams with its passing attack, led by quarterback Jake Browning (4,652 yards, state-record 76 touchdown passes), thanks to superb line protection and balanced by an effective running game that includes Bailey Laolagi, Tre Green, Bryan Weldy and Ron Neal. Folsom also forces a lot of three-and-outs with its strong defense, headed by linemen Jonah Williams and Sam Whitney. Tracy, in the finals for the first time since 1987, has pulled off two upsets as a seventh seed. Tracy beat second-seeded Jesuit 48-38 and third-seeded Granite Bay 27-21 in overtime. Quarterback Michael Brown has played his best games in the playoffs, and running back Nick Jones is quick and elusive. Tracy fans travel, too, packing visiting stands at Jesuit and Granite Bay.

Grant (13-0) vs. St. Mary’s (12-1)

▪ Level: Division II

▪ When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

▪ Where: Hornet Stadium, Sacramento State

▪ Championship history: Grant is 6-1 in title games; St. Mary’s is 2-2.

▪ What’s at stake: The winner has a strong case to move up to the NorCal Division I title game to best match Bay Area enrollments.

▪ Outlook: This is a game of contrasts. Top-seeded Grant has a punishing ground game that features shifty back DeShawn Collins (2,255 yards, 27 touchdowns) and power runners Mike Green (1,168 yards, 17 touchdowns) and Deandre Whittington-Grays (315 yards, seven touchdowns). Working behind a powerful, athletic line, Grant has rushed for 4,654 yards and 62 touchdowns, averaging 8.9 yards a carry and 358 yards a game. Quarterback Donovan Brown has provided balance, passing for 1,722 yards and 17 touchdowns, including seven to Ariyon Huff. St. Mary’s, which uses five-receiver sets, is led by quarterback Noah Righetti (2,716 yards, 32 touchdown passes) and running back Marcell Spady (950 yards, 21 touchdowns). St. Mary’s already has beaten two powers, Rocklin (56-14) and Elk Grove (23-15). St. Mary’s linebacker Khalil Hodge averages 18.6 tackles per game for a defense that has allowed just 65 points in the last five games.

Inderkum (12-1) vs. Oakdale (12-1)

▪ Level: Division III

▪ When: Saturday, 7 p.m.

▪ Where: Lincoln High School, Stockton

▪ Championship history: Inderkum is 0-2 in title games; Oakdale is 3-8

▪ What’s at stake: The winner can make a case to compete in the NorCal Division II game against a Bay Area team because of comparable enrollments.

▪ Outlook: This could be called the “Wing-T Bowl” because both teams rely heavily on the run. Top-seeded Inderkum has rushed for 4,678 yards and 62 touchdowns, including 1,582 yards and 20 scores by Austin Thurman and 1,029 yards and 15 scores by Larry Hardy, though quarterback Jonathan Henry has passed for 1,128 yards and 10 touchdowns, including eight to Hardy. Oakdale, which gained 532 yards on 77 carries in a 41-14 win last week against Rio Linda, is led by three 1,000-yard rushers, in Darus Nelson, Frankie Trent and Brock Whiting. Oakdale won section and NorCal titles in 2012 to reach a CIF State Bowl.

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