FOLSOM — Ponderosa High’s varsity football program suffered a heavy dose of gridiron punishment Friday night, traveling to Folsom High for a 52-0 loss to an undefeated Bulldogs squad.
Fans knew the match up favored Folsom heavily, as the hosts have been enjoying a bona fide heyday with the school’s football program. With a well-tuned offense and a deep roster filled with size and speed, the Bulldogs steamrolled Ponderosa en route to a commanding victory.
“We knew Folsom was going to be good,” Ponderosa head coach Jason Tenner said. “We just don’t have the size or the speed to keep up with a program like that. We’ve asked the boys to do the best they can with what we’ve got, and there were a few individuals that really put out effort – but it’s just tough when you don’t have the same level of talent and size to keep up with a team like that.”
Trouble began early for the Bruins, as Folsom returned the opening kickoff for an immediate touchdown. With a strong quarterback in Jake Browning and a talented receiving corps, the Bulldogs tallied a 28 point first quarter with three touchdown passes.
“I had hoped we would try to make a stand early and try to build from their,” Tenner said. “But when they (Folsom) ran in a touchdown on the opening kick we knew it was going to be a hard game to play.”
With no answer for the pass, Ponderosa was forced to watch more touchdown passes drop in throughout the night. Folsom tacked on 17 in the second quarter, scoring once more in the third quarter before pumping the brakes and cruising to an easy win.
While the team as a whole appeared to operate at half-speed after the first half, a handful of Bruins displayed dedication to the cause on the field, refusing to slow up in blatant disregard of the scoreboard.
Junior linebacker T.J. Shamblin was the definition of resiliency, battling Bulldog linemen and pushing through blockers to make tackles in both the secondary and at the line of scrimmage. Teammate Aaron Jestice was equally as aggressive, refusing to give an inch against an opposition that substantially outsized him.
“TJ is a kid who always hustles, never backs down – always works hard for us,” Tenner said. “And Aaron Jestice had to fulfill very difficult tasks on the line, and gave it everything he had tonight. There are a number of players that you just know you’re going to get their very best every night.”
Senior running back Austin Tibbs, though held scoreless in the game, was the same version of Austin Tibbs that Bruin fans have come to expect. Tough and relentless with a no-quit attitude, Tibbs forced the Bulldogs to pay attention to his run game throughout the night.
“Austin is the kind of kid where you would want to take his heart, his passion and his work ethic and put it into a different body,” Tenner said. “He isn’t blessed with great speed or size — but he has incredible heart and puts out great effort with everything he does. He’s going to join the Marines after graduating high school, and he’s the kind of man you want defending this country — I can’t say enough about how hard he works.”
The loss at Folsom puts the Bruins and Bulldogs at opposite ends of the Delta River League standings. Folsom sits at 4-0 while Ponderosa is 0-4 heading into its matchup against Sheldon this week.
Following this season, the Bruins will be leaving Division I and returning to a division with more comparable competition. With school enrollment significantly lower than the rest of the Delta River League schools, Ponderosa and other El Dorado County schools have been struggling to be relevant competing against programs with nearly three times as many athletes to choose from. Tenner and his coaching staff have repeatedly expressed their pride in the effort their players have shown – even in the face of such frustrating mismatches.
“We’re still looking to finish out the season on a high-note,” Tenner said. “We have a lot of kids that are enthusiastic about playing, still want to do the best they can do. We will try to play a good game against Sheldon — that’s what we’re going to focus on now.”