Joe Davidson

Two ‘incredible high school teams’ to collide when Folsom meets De La Salle in opener

Folsom played against De La Salle on Dec. 14, 2013, in the CIF NorCal Open Division championship. The two teams will meet in their season openers Friday in Concord.
Folsom played against De La Salle on Dec. 14, 2013, in the CIF NorCal Open Division championship. The two teams will meet in their season openers Friday in Concord. Sacramento Bee file

It kicks off Friday.

A high school football season of high hopes includes top-ranked Folsom heading to Contra Costa County for a titanic opener, Placer loading up for another run at a CIF State championship and scores of others trying to get off on the right foot.

Folsom went 16-0 last year and returns 15 starters from its CIF State Division I-AA title team. It starts at De La Salle, which has been in a state championship every season it’s been held since 2006. De La Salle is preseason ranked third in the state by Cal-Hi Sports and Folsom is fourth. In the MaxPreps, NorCalPreps and Sportstars NorCal rankings, De La Salle and Folsom are No. 1 and No. 2.

De La Salle is 30-0 against Sac-Joaquin Section competition since 1982, including regular-season wins this decade against Del Oro (three times), Granite Bay (once) and Jesuit (once). The Spartans ended Folsom’s season at 14-1 in both the 2012 and 2013 CIF Northern California Open Division final.

Several Folsom coaches attended De La Salle’s home scrimmage on Friday night, which included Bee No. 2 Jesuit. Bulldogs assistant coach Bobby Fresques came away impressed, saying of De La Salle, “They look like an incredible high school team. We look like an incredible high school team. It’ll be fun.”

De La Salle preseason All-American linebacker Henry To’oto’o was sidelined Friday with a walking boot for a precaution. Said Spartans coach Justin Alumbaugh, “Henry will be ready to go Friday. He’ll be 100 percent.”

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De La Salle may have its most athletic and swift defense in a decade, and the Spartans will be challenged by Folsom’s fleet of receivers, including Clemson-bound Joe Ngata and fellow national recruit Elijah Badger. Bulldogs quarterback Kaiden Bennett is a pass-run threat unlike his predecessor, Jake Browning, who set national passing records in high school and is a dark-horse Heisman Trophy candidate at Washington.

Browning impressed De La Salle coaches when he faced the Spartans in 2012 and 2013 as a sophomore and junior. Said De La Salle defensive coordinator Terry Eidson, “At every level — NFL college or high school — you face a quarterback who can throw and run equally well, it’s very difficult to prepare. (Bennett) is a handful.

“The last time we faced (Folsom), they had Jake Browning. Obviously, he was pretty special. So is Bennett, but in a different way.”

On Ngata, Eidson said, “If you’re going to Clemson, you’re probably pretty good. They recruit nothing but special athletes.”

Said Alumbaugh of Folsom, “They’re really good. They have a lot of team speed, great receivers, a great quarterback and the line and defense is super solid. They’re every bit as good as they’re cracked up to be. They play hard, are talented and well coached. It’s a huge challenge, and we love to challenge the kids.”

The game will not be televised but it will be streamed live on

Hillmen time — With 17 returning starters, No. 6 Placer is poised to reach another CIF State title game and perhaps even improve on its 13-2 showing last fall.

The Hillmen open against Pleasant Grove on Friday, heavy on skill players such as quarterback Michael Stuck and running back Marshall Chapman. And they’re heavy in the trenches with Oregon-bound Joey Capra and Nevada-bound Blake Baughman.

Club 200 — Tony Martello of Colfax is a victory away from joining the 200-win club.

The Falcons open against Golden Sierra on Friday. Martello is in his 23rd season at Colfax, where he graduated in 1982. He has led 21 playoff teams and reached the section finals nine times, winning three. He is 199-52-1 at Colfax.

“It’s more heartfelt coaching at your old school,” Martello said last fall. “Small-town coaching is the greatest job in America.”

Colfax returns 12 starters, including receivers Jake Green and Colton Reeves, lineman Jake Lahaie and running back Dylan Owens.

Other area coaches to win 200 games include Mike Alberghini of Grant; Dan Carmazzi of Jesuit and Christian Brothers (now retired); Ed Lombardi, who coached several programs, including Elk Grove and Sheldon locally and is retired; Max Miller, mostly from two stints at Cordova and is now retired; Geoff Wahl of East Nicolaus (now retired); Frank Negri of Foothill (now an assistant at Rio Linda) and, from last season, Dave Humphers at River Valley as co-coach with Brennan McFadden (after a long stint at Nevada Union) and Terry Stark at Inderkum.

Opening week schedule

All games kick off between 7-7:30 p.m.

Top 20

No. 1 Folsom at De La Salle

No. 3 Oak Ridge at Lincoln

No. 4 Del Oro at Amador Valley

Monte Vista at No. 5 Granite Bay

No. 6 Placer vs. Pleasant Grove at Sheldon

No. 13 Elk Grove at No. 7 Inderkum

No. 9 Sheldon at No. 8 Monterey Trail

No. 10 Antelope at No. 12 Rocklin

No. 11 Sacramento at Rancho Cotate

Davis at No. 14 Grant

No. 15 Capital Christian at Cosumnes Oaks

No. 16 River Valley at Woodland

Merced at No. 17 Del Campo

No. 18 Christian Brothers at Burbank

No. 19 Bear River at South Tahoe

Bella Vista at No. 20 Casa Roble

Byes: No. 2 Jesuit

Other games

Brookside Christian at Rio Vista

Cordova at Vista del Lago

Delta Charter at Delta

El Camino at Oakmont

El Dorado at Argonaut

Escalon at Union Mine

Florin at Rosemont

Franklin at McNair

Golden Sierra at Colfax

Johnson at Liberty Ranch

Marysville at Natomas

Mesa Verde at Lindhurst

Mira Loma at Foothill

Nevada Union at Yuba City

Rio Americano at Woodcreek

Rio Linda at Center

River City at Ponderosa

Roseville at Bear Creek

Foresthill at Turlock Christian

Western Sierra at Sierra Ridge

Woodland Christian at Denair

Encina at California School for the Deaf

Salesian at Bradshaw Christian

Valley vs. Laguna Creek at Cosumnes River College

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).