Joe Davidson

A familiar team tops The Bee’s opening football rankings. Who else made the Top 20?

Yes, it’s those guys in royal blue and red again, on top of the high school football heap in full-on flex mode.

It’s the Folsom Bulldogs, the ones who run circles around all comers in waves and devour with equal ferocity on defense.

Folsom has been ranked No. 1 by The Bee every week except one since the start of the 2012 season. That’s seven complete seasons and 107 prep football weeks at the top, the best such regional run since the Cordova Lancers conquered the region in the 1970s.

Be it national recruits who came aboard as incoming freshmen or scores of grinders who grew up through the youth ranks in town, Folsom has left quite a blue jet stream in its historic wake.

As the Aug. 23 season openers loom, Folsom’s stronghold on the region remains as it has piled up accolades in achieving the most successful decade for any program in Sac-Joaquin Section history, including seven section and four CIF State crowns in going 126-10, a 92.6 percent win clip.

Want more, like gulping down a bucket of curdled and spoiled cottage cheese?

Folsom is on a 42-game league winning streak since 2011, including 36 in succession in the section’s most power-packed conference: the Sierra Foothill League.

One more forearm to the face mask for those who have had it up to their ear holes with the Bulldogs: Folsom has won 66 of its last 67 games at home and has 11 players with scholarship offers on the roster.

Is there hope for anyone else? For teams strong in the trenches, perhaps. No Folsom starters return on the offensive line and just one is back on the defensive front, but he’s a seek-and-destroy national recruit in DeShawn Lynch.

A closer look at our preseason rankings:

The Sacramento Bee’s Top 20 high school football rankings

1. Folsom Bulldogs (14-1)

Coach: Paul Doherty

League: Sierra Foothill

Division: I

Enrollment: 2,600

School opened: 1922

Pedigree: Nine league, seven section, four CIF State championships since 2010 and some of the very best players, teams and coaches in regional history.

The skinny: The Bulldogs lost some all-time program greats to graduation but still boast the section’s top talents, headed by national recruits RB Daniyel Ngata and WR Elihjah Badger, and do-all marvel CJ Hutton. QBs Ari Patu and Jake Reithmeier are versatile. Folsom hosts De La Salle on Sept. 13.

2. Monterey Trail Mustangs (12-1)

Coach:
TJ Ewing

League: Metropolitan

Enrollment: 2,277

Division: I

School opened: 2004

Pedigree: Nine playoff teams since 2007, three section D-I title game showings and relentless efforts by teams never larger than 40 players.

The skinny: The Mustangs are fast with RB Prophet Brown, and few section defenses are as fast as this one, headed by LB Marcus Jones as another 10-0 regular season looks doable.



3. Oak Ridge Trojans (8-4)

Coach: Eric Cavaliere

League: Sierra Foothill

Enrollment: 2,550

Division: I

School opened: 1980

Pedigree: 29 playoff teams, four section D-II titles since 1998 and two D-I title-game appearances since 2012.

The skinny: The program’s next star QB is Justin Lamson, surrounded by stars in WR Avant Jacobs, OL Nick Scalise, RB Dylan Warfield and plenty others.



4. Vacaville Bulldogs (6-5)

Coach: Mike Papadopoulos

League: Monticello Empire

Enrollment: 1,790

Division: I/II

School opened: 1898

Pedigree: 28 playoff teams since 1976 and section Division I titles in 2006 and 2011.

The skinny: 15 starters return, headed by QB Jeremy Villalobos, WR Michael Briscoe and TE Michael Brown for a team that faces Oak Ridge and Granite Bay early.



5. Capital Christian Cougars (13-1)

Coach: Casey Taylor

League: Capital Athletic

Enrollment: 449

Division: III

School opened: 1977

Pedigree: 10 playoff teams since 2007 with seven league and four section titles, including last season for first time in upper division.

The skinny: 11 starters return from the program’s best team, headed by WR/LB Max Rodarte and RBs Isaiah Bass and Zeke Burnett.



6. Rio Linda Knights (13-2)

Coach: Jack Garceau

League: Foothill Valley

Enrollment: 1,659

Division: III/IV

School opened: 1962

Pedigree: 16 playoff teams since 1988, the 2004 Division III section title and a CIF State crown last fall, won in front of overflow home setting.

The skinny: 16 starters return from the program’s greatest team, none more dynmaic or prolific than RB Cameron Skattebo, who rushed for a regional-record 3,550 yards to go with 48 scores, and all-purpose star Abraham Banks.



7. Del Oro Golden Eagles (13-2)

Coach: Jeff Walters

League: Sierra Foothill

Division: I/II

Enrollment: 1,760

School opened: 1959

Pedigree: 29 playoff teams, including 15 of the last 16, and 12 section titles in 19 appearances with six titles since 2005.

The skinny: The Golden Eagles graduated 18 starters but RB Sheldon Conde and linemen Tucker Black and David Veske return, flanked by members of a 9-1 JV team.



8. Inderkum Tigers (11-1)

Coach: Terry Stark

League: Capital Valley

Enrollment: 2,120

Division: I

School opened: 2004

Pedigree: 13 consecutive double-digit wining seasons and three section-title game appearances, all under Stark, a 200-game winner.

The skinny: RB Aaron Espero and QB JJ Ray will work behind OL Kyle Coughlin, Nick Diez and Robert Fetu’u as the wing-T lives on.



9. Granite Bay Grizzlies (6-5)

Coach: Jeff Evans

League: Sierra Foothill

Enrollment: 1,982

Division: I/II

School opened: 1996

Pedigree: Granite Bay currently has a section-leading 20 consecutive playoff berths, six section championships since 1991 and the 2012 CIF State D-I title.

The skinny: The Grizzlies will bruise teams again with WR/LB Cobe Weeks, DB Nick Richmond, OL/DL Cannon Hammer and WRs Ty Peterson and Kai Singleton.



10. Jesuit Marauders (9-4)

Coach: Marlon Blanton

League: Delta

Enrollment: 2,160

Division: I/II

School opened: 1963

Pedigree: 11 playoff teams since 2004 and 22 since 1988 with two section titles, the last in 2002.

The skinny: Jesuit finds out fast what it has with an Aug. 30 opener against Folsom as QB Daniel Susac and WR/DBs Anthony Chideme-Alfaro and Nathan Lewis.



11. Grant Pacers (5-6)

Coach: Mike Alberghini

League: Sierra Foothill

Enrollment: 1,943

Division: I/II

School opened: 1932

Pedigree: 35 playoff appearances since 1981 and 27 of the last 28 years, and seven section and 16 league crowns since 1991 under Alberghini, who won the section’s first CIF State crown in 2008.

The skinny: Grant is big, fast and ferocious, anchored by heavily recruited linemen Omar Norman-Lott and Isaiah Tupou, both checking in at a bruising 6-foot-4 and 305 pounds.



12. Davis Blue Devils (6-5
)

Coach: Steve Smyte

League: Delta

Enrollment: 2,900

Division: I

School opened: 1927

Pedigree: 14 playoff teams, section Division I title in 1988, NFL alumni in Jason Fisk and Tony Cline.

The skinny: Coming off their first playoff team since 2007, the Blue Devils figure to have their best team in years with 16 returning starters, including playmakers Payne Barksdale, Luke Carrell, Taylor Vaughn and monstrous OL/DL Gerad Lichtenhan (6-9, 340).



13. Sheldon Huskies (10-2)

Coach: Dave Filan

League: Delta

Enrollment: 2,500

Division: I

School opened: 1997

Pedigree: seven playoff teams since 2005 and Delta League champs in 2018.

The skinny: First-year coach Filan is surrounded by two former area head coaches and two of the very best in the business in offensive coordinator Chris Nixon, who will work QB son Sean, and defensive coordinator Jason Tenner, whose unit is led by LBs Ginneral Bright and Malcolm McGlothin, and DB Gabriel Brown.



14. Antelope Titans (7-5)

Coach: Matt Ray

League: Capital Valley

Enrollment: 1,820

Division: II/III

School opened: 2007

Pedigree: Five league championships this decade and 12-1 seasons in 2015 and 2016 with four section semifinal appearances in five years.

The skinny: The next star QB here is Quincy Gallon, strong and athletic. RB Sav Bradley is primed for a big season behind OL Dean Abudullah and Diego Pinola.



15. Elk Grove Thundering Herd (6-6)

Coach: John Heffernan

League: Delta

Enrollment: 1,820

Division: I/II

School opened: 1893

Pedigree: 33 playoff teams since 1984, five section titles in nine title-game appearances with an all-time area great group in 1998 (14-0).

The skinny: The Herd have blur-quick option QB Carter Harris and defensive leaders in Kade Jordan and Khalani Riddick to unleash in an effort to return to top of the Delta.



16. Placer Hillmen (12-1)

Coach: Joey Montoya

League: Foothill Valley

Enrollment: 1,300

Division: III

School opened: 1897

Pedigree: 22 playoff teams and 11 in succession with seven league titles under Montoya, including a state finals appearance in 2017 and a section finals showing in 2018.

The skinny: Eight starters return for a program used to winning since, and a new field turf will be a joy for rumbling RB Hans Grassman (1,632 yards, 24 TDs) and speedster Jesse Whigam.



17. Yuba City Honkers (7-5)

Coach: Aaron Gingery

League: Capital Valley

Enrollment: 1,860

Division: II/III

School opened: 1924

Pedigree: 17 playoff teams, including eight this decade and a lone section final showing in 1987.

The skinny: The Honkers return 14 starters and could have their best team in years with a wealth of talent back on offense and a defense led by LBs Luke Afato and Emilliano Murillo, and DB Erik Palmquist.



18. Bear River Bruins (11-2)


Coaches: Terry Logue and Scott Savoie

League: Pioneer Valley

Enrollment: 620

Division: V

School opened: 1986

Pedigree: 29 consecutive non-losing seasons and two section titles and four title-game appearances in five seasons under the longtime classy coaches.

The skinny: Tre Maronic will not leave the field, bad news for foes, as he will play QB and on defense for a program typically low on numbers but huge in effort and results.



19. Colfax Falcons (13-1)

Coach: Tony Martello

League: Pioneer Valley

Enrollment: 610

Division: V

School opened: 1959

Pedigree: 22 playoff teams since 1982 and five section titles in 10 title-game appearances.

The skinny: 10 starters return from a team that landed in CIF State final, including RB Daniel Bliss, OL Wiley Drummond and WR/DB John Beckman for Martello, a 212-game winner at his alma mater.



20. Casa Roble Rams (11-2)

Coach: Chris Horner

League: Golden Empire

Enrollment: 1,260

Division: IV

School opened: 1966

Pedigree: 13 playoff teams since 1990 and nine since 2006 with program revival in recent years.

The skinny: 10 starters return from a team that had its best season since 2008, including QB Marciano Huston, TE/LB Mason Brown and OL/DL Brad Rankin.

On the bubble (alphabetical order): Center (8-4), Christian Brothers (5-6), Del Campo (4-6), Franklin (2-8), Lincoln (5-6), Ponderosa (7-4), River Valley (7-6), Rocklin (2-8), Roseville (3-7), Sacramento (5-6), Vanden (8-4), Woodcreek (8-3).

Last year’s preseason rankings

The team’s 2017 record is 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)

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Joe Davidson has covered sports for The Sacramento Bee since 1988 and is award-winning authority on high school sports, specializing in going behind the scenes. Davidson was a high school athlete in Oregon, where he participated in football and track.
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