Streaks define programs as proof of staying power.
And there’s nothing like a formidable hurdle to rev up a rivalry to cap the regular season.
Folsom High School has surged this decade as the Sac-Joaquin Section’s premier large-school powerhouse, piling up yards, victories and championships in mowing down steep competition.
Among the victims has been Oak Ridge.
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The Trojans have climbed to No. 2 in The Bee rankings in recent weeks, right behind Folsom, the one program Oak Ridge has not been able to solve. The Trojans get another shot on Friday in El Dorado Hills as they host the Bulldogs in a meeting of 9-0 teams with more than just the Sierra Foothill League banner in the balance. The winner figures to earn the No. 1 seed in the section Division I playoffs, and the loser should earn the No. 3 seed behind defending champion St. Mary’s of Stockton, which has lost only to national No. 1 Mater Dei and Division II potential No. 1 seed Central Catholic of Modesto.
It’s been 11 years since Oak Ridge toppled Folsom. The most painful of those defeats was last season in Week 10, a 17-16 setback as the Bulldogs clinched their sixth consecutive league championship and advanced to their seventh successive section title game. Oak Ridge went 12-2 in 2013, losing only to Folsom, including in the section finals.
And more streaks: Folsom has won 22 consecutive SFL games since entering the league via realignment before the 2012 season. The overall league winning streak for the Bulldogs, dating to the Delta League days, is 33. Folsom is 43-1 in league play this decade, falling only to Pleasant Grove in 2011.
As for this season, a 9-0 start means little if it suddenly becomes 9-1.
“We haven’t accomplished anything yet,” Folsom coach Kris Richardson said. “Yeah, we’ve won some games, but we haven’t accomplished any of our goals yet. It’s day-to-day work. We put on the board, ‘Yeah, we want to be state champions or league and section champions.’ OK. How do you get there?”
More streaks – The area’s most impressive streaks include what Cordova accomplished from the mid-1960s through the early 1990s.
The Lancers posted 28 consecutive winning seasons, ending in 1992, leading the nation in victories in the 1970s and the section in wins in the 1980s. The 28 remains the second-longest streak in Northern California history, behind the 38 consecutive winning seasons De La Salle has pieced together in Concord, starting in 1979.
▪ Cordova owned an 11-year, 56-game winning streak against Sacramento City Unified School District teams, ending in 1987.
▪ Grant at 4-5 may need to beat No. 6 Jesuit in Del Paso Heights on Friday in a Delta League finale to advance to the postseason for the 27th successive time, an on-going section record. The Pacers have made the playoffs 33 times.
▪ Granite Bay has clinched its 19th consecutive playoff berth.
▪ Bear River last season had its streak of 28 consecutive non-losing seasons come to an end, though the Bruins will have a winning season this fall, having won six times already.
▪ Folsom’s 43-game home winning streak that ended in the NorCal Division I finals to Bellarmine of San Jose in 2015 is second to the 46-game home streak Nevada Union owned that ended in 1995.
Grim streaks – The only joy with losing streaks is ending them.
Bella Vista has lost 23 consecutive games and has a tall order Friday in trying to avoid back-to-back 0-10 seasons. No. 10 Del Campo visits Bella Vista in Fair Oaks in a Capital Valley Conference finale. The Cougars are pursuing their first 10-0 regular season since opening in 1963.
Bella Vista was a power in the 1970s and enjoyed its best days under coach Don Driscoll from 1965-86. Matt Polston produced three successive seven-win seasons from 2007-11, and Doug Grush directed winning teams from 2001-03, but the last league champion for Bella Vista came in 1983. Bella Vista of late has had declining participation numbers, though the school remains nationally recognized for its academics.
Herd alive – Elk Grove started the season with 55 players and is down to 37, thinned by injuries and, for a few, grade problems. The Thundering Herd (5-4) kept their playoff hopes alive with a 30-26 win over No. 9 Franklin as Devon Frazier rushed for 144 yards and scored three total touchdowns.
Elk Grove has reached the playoffs 31 times since the early 1980s.
“You don’t get any sympathy,” Thundering Herd coach John Heffernan said of injuries or losses. “All you can do is just compete. Play as hard as you can, win or lose. Don’t dwell and worry about anything. There’s no time to worry.”
Appeal victory – Jake Cruz was denied player eligibility earlier this season by the section office when the quarterback transferred from Whitney to Capital Christian, but the senior won an appeal. His first pass of the season on Friday in a 56-14 rout of Natomas was a 35-yard touchdown to Maurice Gaines in a clinching the program’s sixth consecutive league championship.
Capital Christian, of course, targets bigger prizes. The Cougars (6-3) seek their fourth section title and third since 2014. They are defending Division V champions, having lost once to California competition (to Grant, 19-0).