by Will James
Will this be the week that top-ranked Folsom is finally challenged by a CIF Sac-Joaquin Section team? However futile the prospects of victory for area opponents may seem, this question has surfaced again; and stretches one’s imagine to seriously entertain the notion of Folsom being defeated. Nevertheless, based on the magnitude of Friday’s Sierra Foothill League rivalry showdown when the #1 Folsom Bulldogs square-off with the #2 Oak Ridge Trojans, the intrigue of this rivalry match-up represents more than mere window dressing.
This high profile game may be seen on Comcast Cable channel 17, Consolidated Communications channel 17, and AT&T U-Verse channel 14. The game will also be streamed live on accesssacramento.org, and on the NFHS Network.
Since their season-opening 14-0 road loss to nationally-ranked De La Salle, the Bulldogs have crushed three opponents including locally- ranked heavyweights, then #4 Jesuit (50-14) and then #8 Antelope (41-0). Last week Folsom blasted highly regarded Southern California powerhouse, Chaminade (West Hills), 70-34. All three games concluded mercifully with a running clock to restrict the measure of damage being inflicted.
Enter undefeated Oak Ridge. The Trojans are rolling after recording routs of three teams from good programs: 56-20 over Lincoln, 42-0 over Vacaville, and last week, 42-13 over Reed of Sparks, Nevada, thus setting the stage for Friday’s showdown which will undoubtedly be preceded by oceans of hype and speculation.
Oak Ridge Head Coach, Eric Cavaliere once again fields another dynamite team. Senior QB, Matt Jenner, is the trigger man for the Trojans’ potent offense averaging 46 ppg. An outstanding leader, Jenner has completed 68% of his passes with six TDs and no interceptions.
Kris Richardson’s Bulldogs have been playing on an entirely different level found somewhere in the upper stratosphere. Despite having been blanked by De La Salle in its opener, Folsom’s high octane offense has been virtually unstoppable since visiting Concord.
Quarterback Kaiden Benett has performed brilliantly. A dynamic double threat, Bennett has led a precision offense that averages 53 ppg., despite the starters being limited to first half playing time.
Folsom’s ground game is excellent, featuring single-back standout, Danyiel Ngata (234 yds., 3 TD). The passing game is another story; an aerial circus so refined, so explosive that it terrorizes opposing secondaries with a sophisticated scheme that showcases a deep and talented receiving corps.
Among its five dangerous receivers, national recruit, Joe Ngata, continues to be a marvel, hauling-in 20 receptions, good for 394 yds. (19.4 ave.) and 7 TD. Elijah Badger has 13 receptions totaling 272 yds. (20.9 ave.) and 3 TD. C.J. Hutton, Parker Clayton, and Danyiel Ngata provide other excellent receiving options for Bennett.
Folsom’s hard-hitting defense should receive abundantly more notoriety, but is over-shadowed by Folsom’s offensive prowess. Tyler Hardeman and Caleb Freeland anchor the defensive line, while LB Dylan Richard and DBs Noah Jenkins and Gavin Davis-Smith provide excellent run support and secondary coverage.
Access Sacramento’s veteran team of announcers, Will James on Play by Play, Jim Dimino with analysis and Lauren Goodman with sideline reports will call the broadcast live.
Come Friday evening, here are some pertinent factors to consider while assessing the degree of competition and speculating the eventual outcome: Folsom will enjoy home field advantage at Prairie City Stadium, Folsom has defeated Oak Ridge the last eleven consecutive meetings, and Oak Ridge is coming off a bye week, well rested, but perhaps not game-sharp.
There you have it, the set-up and prelude to what must be considered the most compelling match-up around the greater Sacramento area. This is the Sierra Foothill League opener for both teams, a collision course that is certain to generate wide spread and far reaching anticipation, countless highlights, and thrilling moments.