Joe Davidson

Whose speed wins title race between Folsom, Central? Can Placer stop larger Salinas?

Folsom quarterback Kaiden Bennett runs against Jesuit in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I semifinal on Nov. 24.
Folsom quarterback Kaiden Bennett runs against Jesuit in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I semifinal on Nov. 24. Special to The Bee

The Bee’s Joe Davidson breaks down five CIF Northern California Regional football title games:

Central-Fresno (12-1) at Folsom (14-0), Division I-AA, Friday, 7:30 p.m. – Speed vs. speed here, and two of the fastest players in the state wear Bulldogs blue. Kaiden Bennett has passed for 3,802 yards and 49 touchdowns and rushed for 1,012 and 13, and receiver Joe Ngata has 1,534 yards and 22 scores. Central has a dual-threat quarterback, too, as Trent Tompkins has passed for 3,269 yards and rushed for 480 with 36 total scores for a team that also has intercepted 15 passes.

Pittsburg (8-2) at Granite Bay (12-2), Division I-A, Saturday, 6 p.m. – Granite Bay owns a 4-1 mark on Pittsburg from nonleague games played from 2009-13, and three were thrillers to the wire. the host Grizzlies are tough on defense, and the Pirates are fast and explosive – and rested as two games were canceled due to extreme heat or smoke from fires.

Sutter (12-1) at Half Moon Bay (13-0), Division III-A, Saturday, 6 p.m. – Sutter is used to this sort of thing, having played at Oakdale for a NorCal title last season, and here come the Huskies again with quarterback Tyler Reynolds, who has passed for 2,498 yards and 24 touchdowns and rushed for 933 and 11. Trever Facey has rushed for 1,607 and 18 and Bryce Kunkle 1,393 and 18. Half Moon Bay isn’t just a fun spot to weigh 1,000-pound pumpkins. The Cougars play serious football, and the three-time Central Coast Section champions are surging with their greatest team.

Placer (12-1) at Salinas (11-2), Division IV-AA, Friday – The Hillmen start just three seniors, so the accelerated learning curve for a title push next season is already underway. Salinas has an enrollment of 2,600, much more than Placer’s 1,500, but the CIF sets matchups based on competitive equality, and most games the last two years were competitive to the end.

McClymonds-Oakland (12-0) at East Nicolaus (13-0), Division V-AA, Friday, 7:30 p.m. – The school that goes by “Mack” was best known athletically for its basketball teams. Now it’s a proven product in football, including beating East Nicolaus 45-26 in last year’s NorCal title game, which led McClymonds officials to wonder this week why it isn’t hosting again. East Nicolaus will greet the Warriors with small-town charm, including a grass field and an overflow stadium for a program that seeks its second CIF State title in three years.

Joe Davidson: 916-321-1280, @SacBee_JoeD

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