The plan was to come full circle to Southern California, dial it into routine, then play it out with nothing left to chance.
In what the Folsom High School football coaches deemed the “perfect-storm season,” the seismic tremors delivered on the season’s opening night in San Diego carried throughout a record-breaking season, capped in record fashion on Friday night against, fittingly, another San Diego Section powerhouse.
Folsom rolled a 14-0 Oceanside team 68-7 at the StubHub Center to capture the CIF State Division I championship, and if it looked like an ordinary day at the yard even by the Bulldogs’ lofty standards, there’s a reason.
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Bulldogs coaches Kris Richardson and Troy Taylor scheduled the Aug. 29 opener against Cathedral Catholic near the ocean to get their players accustomed to a long trip in a team bus, and the hotels, and the bed checks, and the team meals. Folsom won that contest 55-10, leading Cathedral Catholic coach Sean Doyle to proclaim the Bulldogs as the finest team he’s faced or observed.
On Friday, Oceanside coach John Carroll didn’t back down a bit on his claim that Folsom was the best outfit he’d experienced in his 26 years.
“When we planned that opener, we were looking ahead, thinking we had a good shot of getting to Carson for this weekend,” Richardson said. “We wanted the guys to get used to the travel, the overnight experience. We felt prepared, relaxed, and we played that way.”
Richardson later summed it up like this: “We let it fly and played our butts off.”
Folsom opened the campaign with a running-clock rout and ended it that way. Sandwiched in between? Fourteen running-clock runaways, a first for a Sac-Joaquin Section team.
Said Carroll: “We were banged up, but it wouldn’t have made a difference. Outstanding team, the best we’ve ever played.”
Spreading the wealth – Folsom’s Jake Browning passed for six touchdowns, giving him a national-record-tying 91 this season, and he was most excited about who caught the goods as the Bulldogs rallied from 7-0 down to score on nine consecutive possessions.
“It was cool every starting skill player got a touchdown,” Browning said. “It’s just how it happened, a perfect ending.”
Scoring dispute – Folsom finished the season with 915 points, which, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations, is the most in national history. The record actually belongs to Aledo, Texas, which scored 1,023 while going 16-0 last season.
Though the National Federation lists many other Aledo records, it doesn’t include this one. Folsom is second all-time nationally, we think, and No. 1 on the West Coast.
Oceanside irked – Oceanside coaches fumed about Folsom’s last two touchdowns, with one assistant barking, “Take a knee!”
Hard to take a knee if you’re running back Bryan Weldy, taking a “bubble” screen with 65 yards of open space in front, accounting for the final offensive score. And really hard to do if you’re Bailey Laolagi, scooping up a last-play fumble with 62 yards of open land beckoning.
“I wasn’t trying to run it up,” Laolagi said. “I just ran toward the end zone.”
Folsom starters played in the fourth quarter of three games this season. The Bulldogs sat the starters six times after one drive in the third quarter.
Sack attack – Folsom recorded 10 sacks, including seven in the first half. Defensive end Lukas Hendricks, who had five sacks, now turns in his football gear and joins The Bee’s top-ranked basketball team along with football mates Parker Boone and Josiah Deguara.
De La Salle debate – Folsom is great, by any measure, so how would it fare against Concord’s De La Salle, ranked second nationally and unbeaten against NorCal teams since 1992? De La Salle beat Folsom soundly in the 2012 and 2013 NorCal Open title game (since dropped), and those defeats inspired Folsom, the coaches and players said.
“(De La Salle is great), and it would have been fun to play them again,” Taylor said. “Playing them just makes you better and helped us figure some things out. Sure, it would have been nice to play them again because you always want to play the best, but we also felt we did play one of the best regardless (in Oceanside).”
Folsom’s senior class – headed by Browning, running back-linebacker Laolagi and lineman Cody Creason – went 44-2, losing only to De La Salle.
“Those losses to De La Salle made us 10 times better, 100 times better,” Browning said. “The first (loss), we realized we had to get stronger, and we lifted and conditioned so much harder. After the second loss, we continued to work in the weight room and added more things on offense. It all paid off.”