Joe Davidson

Hard work, humility push Folsom football like a moss-free rolling stone

Fifty is nifty for Folsom High's dominant football team

The Sacramento region has seen its share of good high school football teams through the years, but perhaps none has enjoyed a better ride than the Folsom Bulldogs. The area's perennial top-ranked team has not lost to a Sac-Joaquin Section program
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The Sacramento region has seen its share of good high school football teams through the years, but perhaps none has enjoyed a better ride than the Folsom Bulldogs. The area's perennial top-ranked team has not lost to a Sac-Joaquin Section program

Kris Richardson is no philosopher, but he can talk the part.

He’s the football coach at Folsom High School, one of the region’s most prolific prep programs. In explaining how the Bulldogs sustain their remarkable staying power, Richardson insists one cannot settle for mediocrity or dare slow down in a fast-forward game.

“You stay the same, if you don’t outwork everyone else, don’t improve, don’t strive to get better, you’re going to get caught – and then passed,” said Richardson, whose teams have been top ranked by The Bee since the start of the 2012 season, a run of 62 weeks. “A rolling stone gathers no moss, so we’ve got to keep this baby rolling.”

It’s rolling at a record rate.

Success and a good culture, it’s natural to us, and we get used to winning, but we also work really hard for it.

Folsom quarterback Joe Curry

The true measurement of a powerhouse program is often determined by winning streaks. The Bulldogs have won a record 50 consecutive games against Sac-Joaquin Section opponents. They also have won 46 regular-season games in a row – another section record – and gone an amazing 59-3 since 2012. The three losses came in the CIF NorCal championship game, twice to nationally renowned De La Salle.

Through it all, Folsom remains humble with players and coaches not making a habit of discussing their success.

Folsom graduated all but one starter from its 16-0 CIF State championship team in 2014 and went 14-1 last season. The lone returnee was offensive tackle Jonah Williams, who will start at Alabama as a freshman this season.

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The Bulldogs’ only loss last season came in the final seconds to Bellarmine of San Jose in the NorCal final, snapping a 43-game home winning streak, second best in area history behind Nevada Union’s 46-game run that ended in 1995.

Folsom returned four starters this season, plugging in five new offensive linemen, two new running backs, a new quarterback and a host of new defenders. The Bulldogs still looked sharp in last week’s season opener, defeating Idaho power Coeur d’Alene 55-36 after leading 41-16 at halftime. Joe Curry passed for 564 yards and had six first-half touchdown passes, four to Drake Stallworth.

Next for Folsom on Friday is No. 5 Jesuit, where the school’s rooting section – nicknamed the “Galley Crew” – chanted, “We want Folsom!” late in the Marauders’ 28-10 season-opening win over Granite Bay last week.

“We’ve got a great opponent in Jesuit, and they want a piece of Folsom, so we have to show up and give it right back to them,” Richardson said. “Everyone comes after you when you’re rolling like this.”

Richardson appreciates the longstanding success because he remembers the program 10 years ago, when back-to-back victories warranted a celebration.

“I’m aware of the (50-0 streak), but it means nothing if we lose the next game,” Richardson said. “Our whole focus – and this is what makes us – is improving each day. We’re not buying time to another section championship. We put the work in. It’s a grind, and you’ve got to embrace the grind of high school football, because if you don’t embrace it, then you won’t be great.”

If we beat them, then we know our program is going in the right direction. If we get blown out, then we know we’ve got a lot of work to do. It’s a win-win.

Jesuit coach Marlon Blanton, whose team faces Folsom on Friday

Curry strives to be great. He grew up admiring Folsom’s star quarterbacks. And he understands the burden is on him and his teammates to keep the Bulldogs rolling.

“Success and a good culture, it’s natural to us, and we get used to winning, but we also work really hard for it,” Curry said.

The challenge for the opposition is keeping pace with Folsom, which stretches foes with spread formations, throwing to receivers running short wheel routes or over the middle or deep downfield. Jesuit quarterback Calvin Brownholtz embraces Friday’s opportunity.

“I have a lot of respect for Folsom, because they’re very disciplined, very good,” he said. “And 50-0 is a very impressive number. They’re just a powerhouse. We’re on that path to being a good team, so this is a big game for us to see where we are.”

Jesuit coach Marlon Blanton can speak of sustained success. He played at De La Salle, which once won 151 consecutive games, a streak that ended in 2004. The Spartans own a 272-game unbeaten streak against NorCal teams since 1991.

“Our coach, Bob Ladouceur, said winning like that was a blessing and a curse, and you have to be on your game all the time,” Blanton said. “Did we like it? Yeah! We loved it. You kidding me? But there’s no rest after taking someone’s best shot.

“That’s why we’re excited to play Folsom. We know of the 50-0. I think it’s awesome. If we beat them, then we know our program is going in the right direction. If we get blown out, then we know we’ve got a lot of work to do. It’s a win-win.”

Joe Davidson: 916-321-1280, @SacBee_JoeD

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