Joe Davidson

Prep football teams build reputation with win streaks. Just ask De La Salle or Folsom

De La Salle of Concord extended its unbeaten streak against Northern California teams to 300 on Friday with a rout of Central Catholic in Modesto. The Spartans visit Folsom on Sept. 13.
De La Salle of Concord extended its unbeaten streak against Northern California teams to 300 on Friday with a rout of Central Catholic in Modesto. The Spartans visit Folsom on Sept. 13. aalfaro@modbee.com

Streaks define high school football programs, good, great and unfathomably great.

On Friday, one streak roared on and another took a hit, but given the opponent, perspective was wise.

De La Salle of Concord faced one of the storied programs in the Sac-Joaquin Section and rolled the Raiders of Central Catholic in Modesto, 49-14, thus extending its remarkable unbeaten streak against Northern California teams north of Fresno to 300.

Boiled down, that means the nationally renowned Spartans have not lost to a NorCal foe since 1991, which is pre-Internet and before a lot of area coaches or schools were even born.

That unbeaten streak started in this section with a 35-21 win over Merced in a 1992 season opener, snapping the Bears’ 28-game winning streak. Those Merced teams were coached by Mark Speckman, now the assistant head coach at UC Davis.

For years, people groused and mumbled that De La Salle hadn’t taken on this region’s best, that it ducks regional powers, so how good could it really be?

Dominant good, folks, and De La Salle ducks only when entering doorways.

This decade, the Spartans have devoured the section’s elite, including three wins over Folsom, three over Del Oro, four over St. Mary’s of Stockton, two over Central Catholic and one each over Granite Bay and Jesuit. Translation: De La Salle is riding a 32-game winning streak against section teams dating to the 1980s.

De La Salle visits Folsom on Sept. 13, a year after downing the Bulldogs 14-0 in Contra Costa County en route to the Spartans 28th consecutive North Coast Section championship and record 12th consecutive CIF State final. De La Salle has not lost a home game since 1989.

There is streaking and there is Spartan streaking.

Also Friday, Paradise defeated host East Nicolaus 35-28 to halt the Spartans’ 42-game winning streak against Northern Section opponents as Tyler Harrison and Lukas Hartley combined to rush for four scores.

Coaches Travis Barker and Neil Stinson were quick to remind their dejected troops that Paradise is a feel-good story, a program that overcame the horrors of the Camp Fire that leveled its town but not its football spirit.

Bruins never in ruins – Streaks are not specific to large-school powers, either.

In Grass Valley, Bear River peeled off 28 consecutive non-losing seasons until 2016, a run that is all the more remarkable for coaches Terry Logue and Scott Savoie, considering the school’s declining enrollment.

“Football still comes down to effort, and we always have that,” Logue said.

The Bruins (2-0) are back to winning ways, going 10-4 in 2017 and 11-2 last season.

Regional streaking – When Folsom lost to Sacramento 32-27 in 2016, the state’s longest current regular-season winning streak crashed at 48 games, as did Folsom’s regional-record 52-game run against section teams.

And this cool streak ended: Folsom’s 64-week run as The Bee’s top-ranked team.

And Folsom is still streaking. Since falling to the Dragons, the Bulldogs have won 35 consecutive games against section teams (and 88 of 89, amazingly), including a 52-12 victory over Jesuit on Friday at Sacramento State.

More? That’s 12 consecutive wins over the Marauders, dating to 2007.

And more (Folsom foes cringing and demanding, “make it stop!”): The Bulldogs own the section record for consecutive playoff wins at 19, bettering Cordova’s 17 in the 1970s.

State streaking – Cal-Hi Sports has ranked California teams for decades, and editor Mark Tennis of Sacramento-region roots noted this week that this will likely be the 12th consecutive year a private school will finish No. 1, meaning Southern California heavies Bosco of Bellflower, Mater Dei of Santa Ana or De La Salle.

The last area team ranked No. 1 by Cal-Hi was Grant in 2010. The Pacers were top-ranked by Cal-Hi for the season’s first 13 weeks before falling to Folsom and quarterback ace Dano Graves in the section Division II final.

The last area team to finish a season No. 1 by Cal-Hi was Cordova in 1977, when the Lancers were in the midst of a regional-record 28 consecutive winning seasons. That is the second-longest streak in NorCal history behind De La Salle’s 40-year run, starting in 1979.

Mother of all streaks – The ultimate streak, when De La Salle was state-ranked No. 1 for long stretches, was when the Spartans owned a 151-game win roll. That’s 12 consecutive perfect seasons.

Jesuit coach Marlon Blanton played on and coached on some of those teams during the streak which ended in 2004.

Blanton told me in 2017, “Our coach, Bob Ladocouer, said winning like that was a blessing and a curse, and you have to be on your game all the time. Did we like the streak? Yeah! We loved it. You kidding me? But there’s no rest after taking someone’s best shot.”

Pacer pride – Grant’s section-record 27-year consecutive playoff streak that included seven section titles under coach Mike Alberghini ended in 2017.

Granite Bay now has the section lead with 20 consecutive playoff showings.

0-10, not again – Nothing dulls losing quite like winning, and no wonder people are so giddy in one part of Elk Grove and one spot in Placer County.

After an 0-10 crash-and-burn seasons, Pleasant Grove and Whitney are each 2-0, a credit to tireless coaches Matt Costa and Zac McNally, who learned his winning culture as a De La Salle linebacker.

He was on the team that had the 151-gamer snapped, a 39-20 loss to Bellevue in Washington.

McNally knew then, and after last season at Whitney, that success can be measured in various ways in this sport, mainly effort.

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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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