In a flash, the Folsom Bulldogs jumped on their visitors, then expanded the lead, then coasted.
That’s been a familiar theme for the region’s preeminent powerhouse high school football program this decade with all cylinders humming in all facets of the game, and it played out again to script against a familiar foe on Friday night in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I quarterfinal at Prairie City Stadium.
Tre Green returned an interception 18 yards for a touchdown on the second snap of the game, and Jake Jeffrey was again steady and spectacular as Folsom raced past Franklin 49-21 to extend two remarkable winning streaks.
The Bulldogs (12-0) won their state-leading 28th consecutive contest, and they have prevailed in 14 successive section playoff games and 20 of 21 in looking the part of top seed in eliminating the Wildcats (7-5) for the third straight season. The Folsom goal is simple, to win a fourth consecutive section title, including a D-I three-peat, and the formula to that could be seen here.
Folsom had terrific offensive-line play with tackles Kooper Richardson and Jonah Williams and interior men Evan Bennett, Blake Christierson and Kaivan Khazeni, allowing Jeffrey plenty of time to survey the defense and attack man-coverage schemes. The senior captain passed for 350 of his 435 yards in the first half as Folsom stormed to a 42-7 halftime lead. He threw five touchdown passes and caught one.
My son Brady asked me, ‘Dad, where’s Folsom’s weakness?’ Um...hmmmm. That’s a good question. Nowhere.
Mike Johnson, Franklin coach
Folsom led 49-7 in the third and cleared the bench to earn another home game next Friday against St. Mary’s of Stockton, which beat Napa 28-14 in another quarterfinal.
“We got after it early,” Folsom co-coach Kris Richardson said. “We had a dominating first half and we jumped on them. When we do that, we’re hard to catch up on, especially when we play defense the way we can. If we can protect Jake, he can pick you apart.”
Jeffrey hit Eric Davis for touchdown strikes of 35 and 18 yards for a 21-0 lead, then caught a 16-yard touchdown pass from Davin Simmons in a bit of trickery for a 28-7 advantage. Jeffrey also found Brad Jenner for an 11-yard touchdown pass and Drake Stallworth from 31-yards out, giving him 41 touchdown passes this season after catching 15 as a receiver for Folsom’s 16-0 CIF State Division I team last fall.
Jeffrey joked he didn’t want to drop the ball on a rare reception.
“There was man coverage and it was wide open,” Jeffrey said. “That was fun. The line was great, the receivers ran great routes.”
Folsom clearing the bench allowed the starters to grab a breather. The Bulldogs have no injuries to key players, a common theme since 2012, a stretch in which Folsom has gone 52-2.
28 Consecutive games won by Folsom
“The great thing is we know how to manage players, keep them fresh, and we have depth,” Richardson said. “We don’t want to be limping late in the season, and we haven’t been. And the reserves earned their time.”
Franklin competed to the end, a tribute to team pride and veteran coach Mike Johnson. There was no shame losing to Folsom – again.
“They’re just so, so good,” Johnson said of Folsom before the game. “They’re really, really good at every position. Normal schools have to hide positions. They don’t. My son Brady asked me, ‘Dad, where’s Folsom’s weakness?’ Um...hmmmm. That’s a good question. Nowhere.”
Johnson was pleased with how his team responded to the crushing loss of quarterback-leader Jacob Lopez, who went down with a broken leg against Jesuit on Oct. 24. Johnson turned the offense over to Lamar Jackson, the national-recruit defensive back who played quarterback as a sophomore.
He played big down the stretch to secure a playoff berth, and then dazzled in a playoff-opening win over Turlock. Jackson had 92 rushing yards against Folsom and scored on runs of one and eight yards in his final game.
“I love this team, love these kids,” Johnson said. “They’re fighters. We had ups and downs and kept with it. We were hoping to go 5-5 and got more. I’m a happy guy. We told our guys, ‘Here’s your reality: you’re going to have to play Folsom at some point. Let’s go.’ ”
Joe Davidson: 916-321-1280, @SacBee_JoeD