Joe Davidson

How to topple a bully? SFL teams eager to dethrone Folsom Bulldogs

Folsom Bulldogs defensive lineman Caleb Freeland (50) stops Jesuit Marauders Isaiah Rutherford after a one-yard gain on Aug. 24.
Folsom Bulldogs defensive lineman Caleb Freeland (50) stops Jesuit Marauders Isaiah Rutherford after a one-yard gain on Aug. 24.

The Sierra Foothill League towers as the best collection of high school football teams in one conference in all of Northern California, certainly within the Sac-Joaquin Section.

And the bully of the lot remains Folsom, again typically fast, ferocious and unyielding as it plows through regional competition.

The Bulldogs have not lost an SFL game since being realigned from the Delta League before the 2014 season, a 24-game run that includes quite a few routs of Del Oro, Granite Bay, Oak Ridge, Rocklin and others. The Bulldogs haven’t lost a league game since 2011.

Folsom is 65-3 at home since 2010, a stretch that includes six section and three CIF State crowns. The Bulldogs have not lost to Oak Ridge at any venue since 2006, a string of 12 successive games.

To be sure, SFL mainstays Del Oro, Granite Bay, Oak Ridge and Rocklin expect to win the crown. Same for SFL newcomers Grant and Whitney. But it won’t happen until Folsom falls.

A closer look at area games of note for this week:

No. 2 Oak Ridge (3-0) at No. 1 Folsom (3-1)

Folsom has sizzled since losing its opener at De La Salle 14-0, shelling Jesuit 50-14, Antelope 41-0 and state-ranked Chaminade in West Hills 70-34, leading 56-14 at one point in the second quarter as Kaiden Bennett had perhaps his best game as a Bulldog. The senior completed 13 of 17 passes for 346 yards and six touchdowns — three to Joe Ngata — and rushed for two scores. Defensive linemen Caleb Freeland and Tyler Hardeman have played well and will have to deal with Oak Ridge’s stellar line, headed by tackle Zac Welch, who blocks for QB Matt Jenner and RB Nate Addleman. One of the region’s top playmakers is Trojans receiver Avant Jacobs. Folsom is ranked second in Northern California by MaxPreps and Oak Ridge eighth.

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No. 3 Del Oro (4-0) at No. 8 Granite Bay (2-2)

In one of the section’s great rivalry meetings, these programs energize Placer County. Granite Bay beat Del Oro twice last season, including in the section Division II finals. The Grizzlies started this season 0-2 with losses to Bay Area power Monte Vista and Nevada No. 3-ranked Damonte Ranch before defeating longtime regional heavies Jesuit 27-12 and Vacaville 31-0. Del Oro has not been challenged this season, dominating in all facets, but will be tested here.

Davis (3-1) at No. 14 Elk Grove (1-2)

The upstart Blue Devils — 0-10 a year ago — have come of age since an opening blowout loss at Grant, rolling past Cordova 69-20, Woodland 42-6 and Pioneer 51-13, a credit to the resolve of coach Steve Smyte’s team. In this Delta League opener, Davis will find out that Elk Grove is a different animal, fast and hard to stop on offense. The Thundering Herd lost to Bee No. 5 Inderkum and Bay Area power Serra of San Mateo before unleashing on the Northern Section’s top team in Shasta of Redding on Friday, 46-7.

Roseville (2-2) at Woodcreek (4-0)

Neighborhood games count, especially when it’s to start Capital Valley Conference play while also renewing a rivalry. This game is now called “The Junction Bowl” in honor of the historic railroad work in the town. The teams are led by a 1-2 offensive punch, Roseville by QB Alex Nicholas and RB Aaron Shima and Woodcreek by QB Carter Krupp and RB Grant Dinger.

No. 7 Capital Christian (4-0) vs. Christian Brothers (2-2)

Played Saturday night at Hughes Stadium, the revamped Capital Athletic League includes these contenders. The Cougars are rolling with wins over Grant (42-14) and Antelope (26-19) and can ill-afford a let down against a CB team that has lost back-to-back games. Cooper Crick has been stellar for Capital Christian with eight touchdown passes and one interception, and Jacob Stewart has shown glimpses of promise at QB for the Falcons. Capital Christian will have the services of star running back D’Marcus Ross, who was ejected last week for targeting, normally resulting in an automatic sit out for the following game. But an appeals panel Tuesday reversed it after watching a film clip.

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This week’s schedule

All kickoffs between 7-7:30 p.m.

Top 20
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
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
Other games
Sacramento at Del Campo
Vista del Lago at El Camino
Roseville at Woodcreek
Franklin vs. Pleasant Grove
Bradshaw Christian at Calaveras
McClatchy at Dixon
Mesa Verde at San Juan
Laguna Creek vs. Liberty Ranch
Johnson at Foresthill
Florin vs. Pioneer
Mira Loma vs. Galt
Natomas at Woodland
Rosemont at Kennedy
Nevada Union at River City
Union Mine at Colfax
Woodland Christian at Big Valley
Arroyo at Amador
Delta at Esparto
Marysville at Las Plumas
No. 7 Capital Christian vs. Christian Brothers at Hughes Stadium
Valley vs. Foothill at Cosumnes River College
Valley Christian at Coral Academy-Nevada