Joe Davidson

Folsom starts prep football season as top ’Dogs

Which prep football team will be Sacramento area's best? Plenty of candidates

Who's No. 1 as the 2016 high school football season begins in the Sacramento region? The Sacramento Bee's Joe Davidson has some strong thoughts about that. See who Joe tabs as the best and where the other top teams fall on his list.
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Who's No. 1 as the 2016 high school football season begins in the Sacramento region? The Sacramento Bee's Joe Davidson has some strong thoughts about that. See who Joe tabs as the best and where the other top teams fall on his list.

Bee staff writer Joe Davidson breaks down the Top 20.

1. Folsom (14-1 in 2015)

League: Sierra Foothill

Coach: Kris Richardson

Ten-year record: 115-20

Opener: vs. Cour d’Alene-Idaho, Saturday

Comment: The Bulldogs have won four consecutive Sac-Joaquin Section titles and are 50-0 against section teams since 2012. With Brad Jenner and Ariel Ngata leading the defense, Folsom is fast, physical and fun as usual.

2. Del Oro (10-6)

League: Sierra Foothill

Coach: Casey Taylor

Ten-year record: 95-40

Opener: vs. St. Paul-Santa Fe Springs, Friday

Comment: The Golden Eagles return seven three-year starters from their CIF state title team. The offensive and defensive lines are strong, and the team features numerous skill-position players, including 900-yard rushers Cam Davis and Dalton Gee. The Golden Eagles seek their fourth bowl bid since 2011.

3. Elk Grove (13-1)

League: Delta

Coach: Chris Nixon

Ten-year record: 96-29

Opener: at No. 4 Inderkum, Friday

Comment: The Thundering Herd graduated Bee Player of the Year Ryan Robards but returns a wealth of talent that includes quarterback Jayden Machado and four-year linebacker Jake Bellecci, who heads a stout defense.

4. Inderkum (12-1)

League: Tri-County

Coach: Terry Stark

Ten-year record: 108-20

Opener: vs. No. 3 Elk Grove, Friday

Comment: The Tigers have won league titles and playoff games and sent numerous players to Division I programs, but they have yet to earn a section championship. This could be Stark’s finest team, led by quarterback/defensive back Trajon Cotton.

5. Grant (10-2)

League: Delta

Coach: Mike Alberghini

Ten-year record: 104-23

Opener: vs. No. 6 Rocklin, Friday

Comment: The Pacers seek an ongoing section-record 26th consecutive playoff berth and an eighth section championship under Alberghini, their coach since 1991. Grant is skilled, fast and large and features national recruit guard Orlando Umana.

6. Rocklin (10-4)

League: Sierra Foothill

Coach: Greg Benzel

Ten-year record: 71-43

Opener: at No. 5 Grant, Friday

Comment: The Thunder ushers in a new quarterback, Michael Nolan, and Trey Overton anchors the defense from the secondary. A return to the section D-II final is the goal and always doable for SFL survivors.

7. Granite Bay (7-6)

League: Sierra Foothill

Coach: Jeff Evans

Ten-year record: 96-33

Opener: at No. 8 Jesuit, Friday

Comment: Last season, Evans’ first as head coach, the Grizzlies upset Grant on the road in the playoffs. Lineman Taylor “Tank” Tonda and defensive back Isaiah Lewis lead the way.

8. Jesuit (5-5)

League: Delta

Coach: Marlon Blanton

Ten-year record: 62-46

Opener: vs. No. 7 Granite Bay, Friday

Comment: The Marauders are big on the lines, experienced at quarterback with Calvin Brownholtz and in better health entering this season compared to last. They also welcome scores of players from championship freshman and JV teams.

9. Burbank (6-5)

League: Metropolitan

Coach: John Heffernan

Ten-year record: 80-37

Opener: At Clovis, Saturday

Comment: The Titans are fast in the backfield with a surplus of runners for the triple-option attack, and the defense will be relentless behind end D.J. Johnson, who has committed to Miami.

10. Oak Ridge (10-3)

League: Sierra Foothill

Coach: Eric Cavaliere

Ten-year record: 78-40

Opener: vs. No. 11 Vista del Lago at Folsom, Friday

Comment: The Trojans replace most of last season’s skill players but still have plenty to reach the playoffs for the 18th time in 19 seasons. Defensive lineman Parker Blomquist, linebacker Truman Andrus and defensive back Cameron Stone are standouts.

11. Vista del Lago (8-3)

League: Capital Athletic

Coach: Mike Struebing

Nine-year record (first varsity team in 2007): 62-36

Opener: vs. No. 10 Oak Ridge at Folsom, Friday

Comment: The Eagles, quarterbacked by Brent Schaeffer, seek a third consecutive league title. Despite Vista del Lago’s early success, a section title eludes a program that has been close.

12. Christian Brothers (9-3)

League: Capital Athletic

Coach: Dan Carmazzi

Ten-year record: 61-50

Opener: At Manteca, Sept. 3

Comment: Carmazzi, in his third season back at his alma mater, is three wins shy of 250 for his career. Quarterback Tyler Vander Waal and running back Jamarri Jackson give the Falcons a potent 1-2 attack.

13. Antelope (12-1)

League: Capital Valley

Coach: Matt Ray

Seven-year record (first varsity team in 2009): 53-26

Opener: at Nevada Union, Friday

Comment: The Titans fielded their best team last fall and return two of the top players in the section – running back Elijah Dotson and cornerback Garrett Chapman.

14. Sacramento (8-4)

League: Metropolitan

Coach: Justin Reber

Ten-year record: 69-45

Opener: at JSerra-San Juan Capistrano, Friday

Comment: The defending league champions will start a new quarterback in Derek Shelton but return running back Tariq Hollandsworth and linebacker EJ Larry.

15. Franklin (7-5)

League: Delta

Coach: Mike Johnson

Ten-year record: 74-41

Opener: at McNair-Stockton, Friday

Comment: Johnson nearly stepped down before last season – having coached the program since the school opened in 2002 – but the players keep luring him back. Kaderro Tamondong is one of the region’s top linebackers, and wide receiver Tariq Glenn, running back Taejon King and fullback John Montgomery are offensive mainstays.

16. Whitney (6-5)

League: Capital Valley

Coach: Paul Doherty

Ten-year record: 73-43

Opener: vs. Davis, Friday

Comment: The Wildcats are especially strong in the secondary with returning starters in Willie Brochinni, Royce Haight and Maxwell Williams. Wide receiver Justin Kraft had 17 touchdown catches last year.

17. Del Campo (9-3)

League: Capital Valley

Coach: Mike Dimino

Ten-year record: 86-33

Opener: vs. Merced, Friday

Comment: Despite losing many players through graduation, Dimino seeks his 13th playoff appearance in 14 seasons. The infusion of championship lower-level teams prompts optimism, including the coach’s son, Ty, at quarterback.

18. Placer (12-1)

League: Pioneer Valley

Coach: Joey Montoya

Ten-year record: 82-37

Opener: at Golden Valley-Merced, Friday

Comment: As alumni coaching deals go, Montoya is enjoying this ride. He’s pursuing his ninth consecutive playoff berth with the Hillmen. The line again is a strength with tackle Alex Houston and guard Logan Moore, who will help protect new quarterback Mike Stuck.

19. Monterey Trail (5-6)

League: Delta

Coach: T.J. Ewing

Ten-year record: 56-57

Opener: vs. Wilcox-Santa Clara, Friday

Comment: Few teams in the state run the veer quite as effectively as the Mustangs, who will again unleash quarterback Robert Holt, a run-pass threat and a team leader. The speed element comes from receiver Bishop Brown.

20. Bear River (9-4)

League: Pioneer Valley

Co-coaches: Terry Logue/Scott Savoie

Ten-year record: 74-39-1

Opener: at Orland, Friday

Comment: While the Bruins are big on the lines with Ryan Tantum, Kyle Wooner and Landen Clark, fullback Austin Baze bulldozes opponents for a program that seeks its 27th consecutive non-losing season.

Football always comes down to blocking and tackling, and the Sacramento area features a number of high school football players who are standouts. Here are the best of the best, the most skilled players to look for in 2016. Some have playoff experi

Grant High School will honor its longtime football coach, Mike Alberghini, before the Pacers' season-opening game against Rocklin on Friday, Aug. 26, 2016, renaming its football stadium after Alberghini, the Sacramento area's winningest active coa

Joe Davidson: 916-321-1280, @SacBee_JoeD

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