It’s not the same outfit, but the culture is every bit the same with players who share the same burning desire to compete and achieve as those before them.
The top-ranked Folsom Bulldogs faced another formidable foe eager to derail two gaudy winning streaks, but it played out to a familiar script.
With Jake Jeffrey accounting for all of his team’s touchdowns and the defense playing well in the second half, Folsom beat No. 3 Oak Ridge 35-21 in a festive Friday night setting in El Dorado Hills to inch closer to another bit of history.
Winners of a regional-record 40 consecutive regular-season games and riding a state-leading 25-game overall winning streak, Folsom (9-0, 6-0) clinched at least a share of the Sierra Foothill League championship in closing in on its fourth successive 10-0 regular season. No regional program has pulled a four-peat 10-0 showing since the famed Cordova teams of the 1970s.
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Last week, Folsom used second-half scoring drives of 98 and 99 yards to beat No. 8 Rocklin 28-14, the theme being that none of this streak extending is easy. But it is rewarding, and it is admirable, given that Folsom graduated all but one starter from last season’s once-in-a-generation team that stormed to a 16-0 season and a CIF State Division I championship as perhaps the area’s greatest team.
The lone starter back is a pillar of strength, leadership and skill in Alabama-bound tackle Jonah Williams. He also exhibited sportsmanship in helping Oak Ridge quarterback Ian Book to get up after a hard play.
Jeffrey played receiver last season, catching touchdowns from all-time national prep record-setting quarterback Jake Browning, now at Washington. And Jeffrey was eager to lead this team, saying last week, “I take it very personal. It’s important to all of us here to play well, to keep the tradition going.”
Entering the season, Folsom co-coaches Troy Taylor and Kris Richardson offered a declaration as much as a warning in saying, “We have another Jake.”
This model is deadly efficient even if his team isn’t wildly prolific. Jeffrey was a load, shifty and determined as a ball carrier in rushing for 135 yards and cool in passing, going for another 112. He had touchdown strikes of nine yards to Brandon Rupchock, and five and 21 to Eric Davis, and he ran for scores of 24 and 34 yards in winning a spirited duel with the equally impressive Book.
“Jake was dynamite,” Richardson said. “He completely took over the second half. Jake’s got competitive greatness. He wants to compete and he has the will to win like no other. He wants the ball. He wants to be the guy to put that exclamation point on wins.”
Book, headed to Notre Dame on scholarship, rushed for 92 yards and passed for 145. Book had two one-yard scoring plunges and hit Kevin Kassis for a seven-yard touchdown in front of an overflow crowd, fitting for the competition.
Oak Ridge (8-2, 5-1) concludes the regular season next week with a bye. It has lost only to Nevada state power Reed of Sparks this season and expects to be a high seed in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-I playoffs, likely on the opposite side of the bracket with Folsom.
Folsom has gone 53-2 since 2012, losing only to De La Salle in NorCal title games. The Bulldogs close the regular season against Woodcreek next Friday and then set their aim on winning a fourth consecutive section title.
So, no, this isn’t last year’s team – no team will ever be last year’s team. But it’s still a machine.
“Can’t compare us to last year, but the reality is this is a great football team, and we’ve been in battles, but we keep competing,” Richardson said. “We’re playing great defense, too. We know how to win. The guys have a great temperment, and they’re confident, and the culture is there in knowing how to battle and to win.”