Joe Davidson

Folsom moves on to state championship after walloping Central of Fresno 84-46

Folsom quarterback Kaiden Bennett, left, scampers past Central’s Shando Lopez for a touchdown on a keeper play during their NorCal Regional Division 1 championship game at Koligian Stadium in Fresno on Friday, Dec. 7, 2018.
Folsom quarterback Kaiden Bennett, left, scampers past Central’s Shando Lopez for a touchdown on a keeper play during their NorCal Regional Division 1 championship game at Koligian Stadium in Fresno on Friday, Dec. 7, 2018. ckohlruss@fresnobee.com

Central High got an early lead Friday night in its rematch with visiting Folsom for the Northern California Regional Division 1-AA football championship.

But the Grizzlies couldn’t withstand the Bulldogs, who never let off the gas in an 84-46 rout at Deran Koligian Stadium.

“I felt like we had to score on every possession, really,” Central senior quarterback Trent Tompkins said. “I knew they had a deadly offense and we just had to score on every possession. But we put 46 and that’s all right, but against Folsom you have to put up 60 or 70 just to stay in the game. They’re that type of team.”

The loss snaps Central’s 16-game home win streak and ends the Grizzlies’ season at 13-1.

The 46 points given up by the Bulldogs is the most all season, but Central gave up the most all season, too.

It ended a marvelous three-year career for Tompkins, who’s headed to UC Davis. He helped Central reach three straight Central Section D-I championship games, winning the last two.

“Great three years of my life,” he said. “I’m just excited to be a part of this great team, great school. This school gave me so many opportunities. I’m just so thankful for everything they’ve done for me. We fought our hearts out.”

Central forced Folsom to three turnovers in the first quarter including Noah Gonzales’ interception that led to Quali Conley’s 10-yard touchdown reception from Tompkins and a 14-7 Grizzlies lead.

But the Bulldogs chipped away, scoring on every possessions minus the turnovers to take a 35-21 halftime lead.

Central had hope – in each of its postseason games, the Grizzlies had come from behind, including the last two after trailing at halftime.

But this time Folsom got a touchdown on the second play of the second half – on defense, Noah Jenkins’ 31-yard interception return. Central stayed close for a few more scores, but Elijah Badger returned a kickoff 70 yards for a score and it was 55-34.

“We needed those plays to go our way and in the second half we couldn’t stop them,” Grizzlies coach Kyle Biggs said. “They’re just a tough team. They are on a whole different level.”

Fresno State fans probably aren’t done seeing Folsom quarterback Kaiden Bennett, who’s committed to Boise State.

Folsom has won 13 straight since a season-opening loss to De La Salle-Concord. The Bulldogs move on to the state championship at Cerritos College against Cathedral Catholic-San Diego on Dec. 14.

For Central senior Noah Gonzales, he called it “a great season” and wouldn’t change it any other way.

“Everybody wanted to knock us off this year,” he said. “But we were able to win Valley and still able to do a lot of things.”

Grizzlies junior wide receiver Jeremiah Hunter summed it up the best he could:

“They just had studs over there,” he said. “Their team is really good … we just didn’t stop them enough to get the win. Hats off to them.”

The Grizzlies seniors produced 36 wins and three Valley championship appearances, including two section titles. Biggs said he delivered a heartfelt message to his team.

“That’s something to be extremely proud of,” he said. “They did a great job changing the expectations, perceptions and changing the culture and now it’s on our underclassmen to build off what the seniors did.”

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