Hometown Report

Why every major college football program has stopped by Folsom High School

Folsom High receivers Joe Ngata, left, and Elijhah Badger celebrate a touchdown in the CIF NorCal Division I-AA title game Dec. 8, 2017.
Folsom High receivers Joe Ngata, left, and Elijhah Badger celebrate a touchdown in the CIF NorCal Division I-AA title game Dec. 8, 2017. Special to The Sacramento Bee

Scores of coaches from across the country have descended upon the Folsom High School football offices this week.

Men with broad smiles, firm handshakes and all manner of curiosity representing Alabama, Clemson, Michigan — you name it — stopped for a peek at the Bulldogs during what could be best described as open season in spring recruiting.

The headliner from Folsom's 16-0 CIF State championship club from last fall is senior-to-be Joe Ngata. He's a 6-foot-4, 215-pound receiver, The Bee's 2017 Player of the Year, who is as dominant of a skill player as I have seen in this region over nearly 30 years on this regional beat.

He's a Shaq Thompson sort, explosive and physically overpowering with work ethic and character to match. In other words, a "can't miss" prospect.

Ngata has offers from all the national heavies, and so does his younger brother, Daniyel, who makes plays as a receiver, runner and defensive back and will down-field block until someone reaches the end zone. He can match his brother with offers from Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Michigan and others.

Has this area ever had such heavily recruited brothers? You would have to go back to Donald and Reggie Rogers at since-closed Notre Del Rio High in Del Paso Heights in the early 1980s to find anything close, or Reggie and Mark Young of Cordova in the late 1970s and early '80s. David and Matt Ball of Dixon were highly recruited linemen in the 1990s, as were Armond and Arik Armstead of Pleasant Grove in recent years.

"It's been crazy, especially with Joe Ngata, and all the big-time programs have come out," Folsom coach Kris Richardson said. "We're a first-stop location for these college programs, and we also tell recruiters, 'Hey, there's a kid over at that school that's worth a look.'

"We want to get the word out about our guys and others. When you play here, you're going to get evaluated, be it by a top-five team or Division III."

Quarterback Kaiden Bennett, a senior-to-be, is also piling up offers from Pac-12 programs and beyond, as is junior-to-be receiver Elijhah Badger, with offers from Florida, Oregon and USC.

Sacramento State and UC Davis have also jumped into the fray, debunking any theory that the local programs do not recruit locals. They do, including offers to Bennett.

On Friday, Sac State offered to Bennett, defensive back Caleb Nelson and linemen Tyler Hardeman, Chandon Pierre and Joe Wagner. That's seven Folsom players with offers with a good chance of more once the season starts.

Folsom visits national powerhouse De La Salle in a titanic opener.

A good many of these Bulldogs will be in tuxedos Saturday for the annual Evening of Dreams, where area athletes escort a special-needs date to a prom. Richardson's wife, Kelly, is heavily involved as an organizer.

Their son, Kaden, a center on the football team, went to Twitter to proudly display his Evening of Dreams date.

What a great way to use social media in an era when too many student-athletes otherwise waste time bemoaning how a girlfriend didn't text them back or how a college program is "sleeping on me."

"To be a part of something special like this is great, a chance to provide joy to a young person's life," the coach said. "It's a chance to be involved in something bigger than life and football. Some football guys are so used to being patted on the back all the time for their football accolades. This is about being gracious in something totally different."

JC rumble — In a continued show of strength of the Big 8 Conference, three members represent the four remaining baseball teams in the California Community College Northern Sectional finals, to be played Friday through Sunday.

Top-seeded San Joaquin Delta of Stockton hosts the lone team outside the Big 8 in one series in Ohlone of Fremont, and second-seeded Sierra will host No. 3 Sacramento City in the other.

Delta is led in part by shortstop Beau Philip of Oak Ridge High (.344), outfielder Jordan Vujovich of Granite Bay (.328) and pitcher Kevin Kyle of Elk Grove (8-1). For Sierra, Dylan Smethurst of Rocklin High is batting .388, Matt Lopez of Bear River .370, Charles Middleton of Lincoln .351, Isaiah Garcia of Lincoln .335 and Logan Wurm of Marysville .304. Tyler Gums of Marysville is 12-0 for Sierra.

For Sac City, Jake Guenther is hitting .340, Jaylund Johnson of Capital Christian .324 and Joe McNamara of Christian Brothers .288. Ben Purcell of Del Campo has seven wins on the mound and Danny Chavez of Grant is 5-1.

Tennis haul — This is what happens when a former sportswriter coaches: He exudes information and curiosity.

Marc Erwin, one-time sports editor at The Davis Enterprise and later a copy-desk guru at The Bee, coaches the Vista del Lago tennis team. He informed us that three teams from the Capital Athletic League all won section boys tennis titles last week, adding, "While I can't say with historical accuracy that this has never happened before, I find it hard to fathom that it has in our area, regardless of sport."

From what we can gather, it has not happened, though it nearly did in 1994 for boys basketball, when three teams from the Capital Valley Conference won CIF Northern California basketball championships — Jesuit, Oakmont and Foothill.

But in an odd twist, Foothill didn't win the section title, losing 61-60 to Vacaville, though it did become the only one of the CVC three to win a CIF State title that season.

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