Joe Davidson

One league dominates The Bee’s preseason top-five football teams – except for No. 2

Folsom, led by coach Kris Richardson, has 111 wins during this decade. The Bulldogs have produced four 14-1 seasons and two 16-0 campaigns during that stretch.
Folsom, led by coach Kris Richardson, has 111 wins during this decade. The Bulldogs have produced four 14-1 seasons and two 16-0 campaigns during that stretch. Special to The Sacramento Bee

The Sierra Foothill League towers again in football.

That’s reflective in The Bee’s preseason rankings, particularly with four SFL heavies in our top five.

Folsom has been The Bee’s preseason No. 1 team since the start of the 2012 season and has been top-ranked all but one week during that stretch, matched only by the famed Cordova Lancers teams of the 1970s, when they led the nation with 106 victories.

Folsom has 111 wins this decade and there are two seasons yet to play out. The Bulldogs have produced four 14-1 seasons and two 16-0 campaigns during that stretch. To better clarify, the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs did not start until 1976, when Cordova was king, and the CIF State and Northern California postseason started in 2006 and 2012, respectively, allowing Folsom to play a lot more games.

Headed by two national recruits, Jesuit is the only team of these five not in the SFL. The Marauders of the Delta League play at Folsom on Aug. 24, eager to avenge two losses to the Bulldogs from 2017, including the playoffs.

SFL members Oak Ridge, Del Oro and Granite Bay round out the list, each harboring title hopes. The teams can get there with a win over Folsom, or with someone somewhere beating the Bulldogs.

Granite Bay beat Del Oro for the Section Division II championship last season on the same weekend Folsom won its sixth section banner of the decade, including five in D-I.

Here are Nos. 1-5, with last year’s record in parentheses:

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Granite Bay is coming off a Sac-Joaquin Section Division II championship last year, its sixth section title since 1999, and looks to build on its 19-year postseason streak. Brian Baer Special to The Sacramento Bee

5. Granite Bay (12-3)

Coach: Jeff Evans

League: Sierra Foothill

Enrollment: 2,100

Division: I/II

School opened: 1996

Opener: vs. Monte Vista, Aug. 17

Pedigree: Nineteen consecutive playoff teams, six section titles since 1999 and the 2012 CIF State D-I championship.

The skinny: The Grizzlies won another section title last season but lost a ton of talent. However, they also return a ton, too, headed by RB/LB Jacob Ellis and linemen Bruce Van Order and Joe Young. Another runner of note is Anthony Martin.

4. Del Oro (8-6)

Coach: Jeff Walters

League: Sierra Foothill

Enrollment: 1,700 Division: I/II

School opened: 1959

Opener: at Amador Valley, Aug. 17

Pedigree: Twenty-eight playoff teams, including 14 of 15, and 11 section titles in 18 appearances with five titles since 2005.

The skinny: After guiding his alma mater a year ago in his first season, Walters welcomes back 18 starters, headed by three-year starting WR/DB Dawson Hurst and LBs Tatuo Martinson and Charlie Rogers. Kicker Ryan Whalley, QB Carson Jarratt and Johnny Guzman are poised for big seasons.

3. Oak Ridge (11-2)

Coach: Eric Cavaliere

League: Sierra Foothill

Enrollment: 2,500

Division: I

School opened: 1980

Opener: at Lincoln, Aug. 17

Pedigree: Twenty-eight playoff teams, four section Division II titles since 1998 and two D-I title-game appearances since 2012.

The skinny: If only Folsom wasn’t in the same league and same playoff bracket, all of which inspires the Trojans to excel. The next QB ace is Matt Jenner, who dazzled in the playoffs, and he’ll work behind a line anchored by Nevada commit Zac Welch. The defense is again stout with Nathan Addleman, Sam Sanders, Gage King and Sawyer Merrill.

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Jesuit has been to the playoffs 21 times in the last 30 years, but has not won a Sac-Joaquin Section title since 2002. Brian Baer Special to The Sacramento Bee

2. Jesuit (10-3)

Coach: Marlon Blanton

League: Delta

Enrollment: 2,142

Division: I/II

School opened: 1963

Opener: at Folsom, Aug. 24

Pedigree: Ten playoff teams since 2004 and 21 total since 1988, including two section titles, the last in 2002.

The skinny: Never have the storied Marauders had this much megastar power, headed by national recruits and general good guys Laiatu Latu, a tight end, and running back/cornberback Isaiah Rutherford. Unsung leaders such as LB Cade Brownholtz, LB/RB Jackson Canaan and QB Hank Harvego also lead the way for a team capable of storming through the tough Delta unbeaten again.

1. Folsom (16-0)

Coach: Kris Richarsdon

League: Sierra Foothill

Enrollment: 2,300

Division: I

School opened: 1922

Opener: at De La Salle, Aug. 17

Pedigree: Eight league, six section and three CIF State championships since 2010 under Richardson, and ranked No. 1 by The Bee every week except one since the 2012 kickoff.

The skinny: Fifteen starters return in what could emerge as an all-time area great team, and it starts with a bang at De La Salle, which hasn’t lost to a NorCal team since 1991 (290 games ago). WRs Joe Ngata and Elijah Badger, QB Kaiden Bennett, RB Daniyel Ngata, tough lines and a strong D make this one brutal bunch to deal with.

The Bee’s preseason Top 20 high school football teams

Last season’s record in parentheses:

1. Folsom (16-0)

2. Jesuit (10-3)

3. Oak Ridge (11-2)

4. Del Oro (8-6)

5. Granite Bay (12-3)

6. Placer (13-2)

7. Inderkum (11-1)

8. Monterey Trail (6-5)

9. Sheldon (9-3)

10. Antelope (10-2)

11. Sacramento (10-2)

12. Rocklin (7-5)

13. Elk Grove (5-6)

14. Grant (4-6)

15. Capital Christian (7-4)

16. River Valley (7-4)

17. Del Campo (12-1)

18. Christian Brothers (10-3)

19. Bear River (10-4)

20. Casa Roble (6-6)

Bubble teams: Bradshaw Christian (8-4), Burbank (6-5), Center (7-6), Colfax (9-4), Cordova (7-4), Cosumnes Oaks (5-6), El Dorado (7-4), Franklin (7-4), Laguna Creek (5-5), Lincoln (8-3), Rio Americano (6-5), Rio Linda (7-5), River City (7-4), Vista del Lago (7-5), Whitney (5-5), Woodland (7-5), Yuba City (6-5).

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