Jake Browning finished his senior course work Wednesday with a sigh of relief.
The record-setting Folsom High School quarterback has one more assignment with his buddies before he heads to Washington early next month, though technically he’s free to go now.
So it was no surprise that his was the first name checked on the roll call Thursday morning as two team buses of players and coaches departed campus for Carson, where the CIF State Bowl Game Championships will be played Friday and Saturday.
“We know one thing,” Folsom co-coach Troy Taylor assured, “we’re not leaving without Jake Browning.”
With Browning leading the way, Folsom (15-0) will match its point-a-minute offense against the speed, tenacity and tradition of Oceanside (14-0) in Friday tonight’s Division I game at the StubHub Center.
Folsom won the Division II state title in 2010, and Oceanside, a longtime San Diego Section power, won the Division II title in 2007 and the Division I title in 2009.
“It won’t be easy against that great Folsom team, but we’ll compete,” said Oceanside coach John Carroll, who has won 249 games in 26 seasons on a campus two blocks from the beach.
Folsom co-coach Kris Richardson said of Oceanside: “That’s a very impressive team, a great challenge.”
It will be the seventh appearance for teams from this region since the CIF State Bowl concept began in 2006. Grant won the 2008 Open Division, and Granite Bay won the 2012 Division I title. In the 2009 Division II game, Rocklin lost on a late field goal. Del Oro lost in the Division II game in 2011 and in the Division I game last year.
Folsom is averaging 56 points, led by Browning (5,351 passing yards and a state-record 85 touchdown passes), who needs six touchdown passes to tie the national season mark of 91, set by Corey Robinson of since-closed small-school Lone Oak High in Kentucky in 2008. Folsom receiver Cole Thompson has caught a state-record-tying 33 touchdown passes this season, according to the Cal-Hi Sports record book, one shy of tying the national mark of 34 by Kirby Moore of Prosser (Washington) in 2008, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations record book.
If Folsom reaches its scoring average against the Pirates, who have allowed just 14 points a game, the Bulldogs will tie Albermarle (North Carolina) of 2001 for the most points scored in a season in national prep history with 903.
Folsom has a strong rushing game, too, averaging 155 yards per game and 7 yards per carry. And the defense has allowed just 10.6 points per game, with the starting unit allowing just one touchdown in the last seven games.
“We’re really hitting a great stride,” Folsom two-way starting lineman Sam Whitney said. “We’re excited.”
After beating Grant on Friday night, Richardson and Taylor said they had little time to celebrate.
“You go home, enjoy the moment Friday after the Grant win, sleep, open your eyes and you’re consumed with preparation,” Taylor said. “We’re saturated with schematics and ideas. We’re trying to give our guys the best chance to be prepared, to be successful.”
Said Richardson: “We’ll leave no stone unturned. We’ll be ready.”
The Folsom coaches said they will treat this game like any other, even though it isn’t like any other. It’s the final game, and the biggest one. Still, it’s the approach that counts, they said.
“We don’t talk about the magnitude of the game at all because we don’t get into the dramatics of it,” Taylor said. “Building up games, typically teams don’t always play well. It can be too much. We want the players to play the same, whether it’s the season opener, playing Grant or Oceanside. We want to prepare the same way, play the same way, have the same routine. Just play our game and do what we do.
“Do we want to finish strong? Absolutely.”
Follow Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD.