Watch the Folsom Bulldogs playmakers in action against Antelope
Rivalries have dotted the high school football landscape in the Sacramento region for decades, energizing many a Friday night while leaving welts, bruises and lasting memories.
Sometimes, they include meetings of The Bee’s top-ranked teams. That theme carries into this week, when No. 1 Folsom hosts No. 2 Oak Ridge in perhaps this week’s showcase game in all of Northern California.
Rivalry games in seasons past used to equate to a league championship and bragging rights, well before the start of the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs in the mid-1970s.
In the 1940s and ’50s, it was McClatchy against Sacramento High in the Turkey Day Game, with fans and bands filling Hughes Stadium to the brim.
In the 1960s, top-ranked showdowns included El Camino against Mira Loma, with the winners tossing coaches into the pool, clipboards and all.
In the late 1970s, the foothills came alive when Placer and Nevada Union met. And throughout much of the 1980s, it was Cordova and Christian Brothers: public vs. private, including spirited rematches in the postseason.
In the 1990s, no one game was more anticipated than Grant and Nevada Union: contrasting teams, coaches, styles and demographics.
The loser of the league showdown often stormed to the Division I section championship.
In the 2000s, Del Oro and Granite Bay heated up Placer County en route to section championship runs.
And this decade? Not sure. Any takers? Del Oro and Granite Bay still heat up, and the teams meet Friday, the Golden Eagles ranked third and the Grizzlies eighth.
And what about the Holy Bowl between Jesuit and Christian Brothers? It’s a rivalry, but it’s been years since both have been highly ranked at the same time. Jesuit has dominated of late, including Saturday 46-7 to take a 32-14-2 all-time series lead.
Folsom and Oak Ridge open Sierra Foothill League play this week and expect to face off again in the section Division I playoffs.
The programs are rivals in terms of geographic location, as nine miles separate the campuses along Highway 50.
Though some of the games have been close, it hasn’t been a back-and-forth rivalry. It’s been all Folsom.
The Bulldogs have won 12 consecutive meetings, including twice in 2012 (the second meeting coming in the Division I section title game). Oak Ridge last toppled Folsom in 2006, 47-28, under coach Chris Jones, whose program was coming off three consecutive section Division II championships, a run in which Folsom was trying to figure out how to win back-to-back regular-season games.
Oak Ridge continues to excel under coach Eric Cavaliere, at the helm since 2007, with some of the best players and teams in program history and posting seasons of 12-2, 12-2, 10-3, 10-3 and 11-2 since 2012.
But it’s been Folsom’s decade to dominate the entire section. The Bulldogs target their ninth league, seventh section and fourth CIF state championship since 2010.
Folsom and Oak Ridge generally end the league schedule against each other.
“Yes, another big game, but much earlier in the season than we are used to,” Cavaliere said. “This has always been a big game. Several reasons for this: proximity, a lot of interaction among the players throughout youth sports, both programs have been competitive, etc.”
And Folsom has a lot to protect Friday. It has won 35 consecutive league games dating to 2011, when it lost 48-34 to Pleasant Grove and coach Joe Cattolico in Delta League action. The Bulldogs have won 15 consecutive home games since falling to Sacramento 32-27 early in 2016.
Folsom has gone 65-3 at home since 2010, crushing teams with its spread offense. It’s been led the last two seasons by quarterback Kaiden Bennett, receivers Joe Ngata and Elihjah Badger, running back Daniyel Ngata and a relentless offensive line headed by center Kaden Richardson, son of coach Kris Richardson, who’s in his 14th season with the Bulldogs.
Oak Ridge has featured its share of dynamic skill players, including this season with quarterback Matt Jenner, who has sparked a 3-0 start, and standout tackle Zac Welch. Jenner’s brother, Brad, was a Bee All-Metro linebacker on Folsom’s 12-2 team in 2016, so this is a family that can relate to both sides of the rivalry.
Jesuit rolls — In rolling Christian Brothers on Saturday at Hughes Stadium, No. 9 Jesuit may have found itself after starting the season ranked second. The Marauders lost to Folsom and Granite Bay, which overcame its own 0-2 start.
Junction time — On the topic of rivalry games, one is being renewed after a break as Woodcreek (4-0) hosts Roseville (2-2) on Friday in what is being deemed “The Junction Bowl” in honor of the historic railroad work “of our great city,” said John Hildebrand, the one-time Woodcreek coach and now the school’s athletic director.
A “Golden Spike” plaque will go to the winner. The schools have also collaborated with the Salvation Army to assist Roseville city youth.
Roseville leads the series 15-3 under coach Larry Cunha, in his 27th season as head coach, one of the longest active runs in Northern California.
The Bee’s Top 20
1. Folsom (1) 3-1
2. Oak Ridge (2) 3-0
3. Del Oro (3) 4-0
4. Placer (4) 4-0
5. Inderkum (5) 3-0
6. Monterey Trail (6) 4-0
7. Capital Christian (7) 4-0
8. Granite Bay (8) 2-2
9. Jesuit (9) 1-2
10. Sheldon (12) 3-1
11. Bear River (14) 4-0
12. Grant (15) 2-2
13. River Valley (13) 3-1
14. Elk Grove (16) 1-2
15. Lincoln (18) 2-1
16. Ponderosa (20) 4-0
17. Antelope (10) 1-3
18. Rocklin (11) 1-3
19. Casa Roble (17) 3-1
20. Center (-) 4-0
Dropped out — Christian Brothers
Bubble teams (in alphabetical order) — Bradshaw Christian (2-1), Christian Brothers (2-2), Colfax (3-0), Cosumnes Oaks (2-2), Davis (3-1), East Nicolaus (3-0), Foothill (3-0), Oakmont (2-1), Rio Linda (3-1), Winters (3-0), Woodcreek (4-0), Yuba City (2-2).
This week’s schedule
All kickoffs start between 7-7:30 p.m. Friday, unless noted.
No. 2 Oak Ridge at No. 1 Folsom
No. 3 Del Oro at No. 8 Granite Bay
El Dorado at No. 4 Placer
No. 5 Inderkum at Bella Vista
No. 7 Capital Christian vs. Christian Brothers at Hughes Stadium (7 p.m. Saturday)
Rio Americano at No. 9 Jesuit
Cosumnes Oaks at No. 10 Sheldon
Encina at No. 11 Bear River
Davis at No. 14 Elk Grove
No. 15 Lincoln at No. 20 Center
Cordova at No. 16 Ponderosa
No. 17 Antelope at Yuba City
Whitney at No. 18 Rocklin
No. 19 Casa Roble at Oakmont
Byes: No. 6 Monterey Trail, No. 13 River Valley
Sacramento at Del Campo
Vista del Lago at El Camino
Roseville at Woodcreek
Franklin vs. Pleasant Grove at Cosumnes Oaks High
Bradshaw Christian at Calaveras
McClatchy at Dixon
Mesa Verde at San Juan
Laguna Creek vs. Liberty Ranch at Cosumnes River College
Johnson at Foresthill
Florin vs. Pioneer at Monterey Trail High
Mira Loma vs. Galt at Liberty Ranch High
Natomas at Woodland
Rosemont at Kennedy
Nevada Union at River City
Union Mine at Colfax
Woodland Christian at Big Valley Christian
Arroyo at Amador
Delta at Esparto
Marysville at Las Plumas
Valley Christian vs. Coral Academy-Nevada at Wooster (7 p.m. Saturday)
Valley vs. Foothill at Cosumnes River College (7:15 p.m. Saturday)