CARSON — A steady barrage was interrupted by two feverish bursts Saturday in the Division II CIF State Football Championship game.
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That’s not a rain reference.
It was awful weather and awful field conditions at the Home Depot Center on the California State University Dominguez Hills campus, but anyone associated with the Folsom High football team who was at the game surely didn’t have an awful time. A 48-20 victory over Serra of Gardena and a state championship made it just about impossible to be anything but awesome.
“Oh my God, I’m so stoked right now,” an elated Tyler Trosin said in a mud-socked celebration after the game. “We just showed we were the best team out there tonight.”
It may have been the biggest understatement of the night.
That feeling of being stoked took hold with a fourth quarter that saw the Bulldogs (14-1) obliterate a tight 21-20 game with an absurd burst of 20 points in 25 seconds. After that it was only a matter of keeping the clock running, in part to prevent the Cavaliers (14-1) from staging a comeback and in part to get the game over with and begin diving and sliding in puddles.
With 11:11 remaining in the game, quarterback Dano Graves ran off-tackle to the left for a 1-yard touchdown. Right after Dillon Wessing’s extra point, a pooch kick on the ensuing kickoff hit the muddy turf due to a Serra mistake and Wessing dove onto the ball to give his team possession at the Cavaliers’ 28-yard line. After a 1-yard run, Graves found Trosin wide open for a 27-yard touchdown toss to make it 35-20 and elicit a thunderous roar from the Bulldog faithful.
The Cavaliers got the ball after the kickoff, then Jordan Richards quickly capped off the scoring eruption with a 35-yard interception return to the end zone, courtesy of a tipped ball by a Serra receiver who couldn’t haul in a fast pass on a wide receiver screen.
“That was the knockout blow,” Folsom coach Kris Richardson said. “We’ve blown up on some people. It’s our strength since I’ve been head coach. Once we get a team, we know how to go for the throat. We can deliver that knockout blow and our kids feed off that.”
Folsom wasted no time showing the Cavaliers that they weren’t intimidated by the Southern California powerhouse that came in with 29 straight victories. To begin the first burst, Trosin took the opening kickoff 77 yards before getting tackled at the 13 and after one unsuccessful rush and a Serra penalty, Graves found Trosin on a slant pattern for an 8-yard touchdown connection. Serra ran three plays and lost 7 yards before punting to the Bulldogs, and after Graves rushed for 3 yards, he rolled to the right and connected with Trosin on a 42-yard bomb that made it 14-0 less than four minutes into the game.
Not a bad beginning considering that Serra’s campus is about two miles from the Home Depot Center and its roster features a handful of Division I college recruits.
Serra scored the next three touchdowns to grab a 20-14 advantage, but Graves capped off a 10-play drive with a 2-yard rushing score with less than a minute in the half and made it 21-20.
A frontrunner for many state player of the year awards, Graves finished with six touchdowns (three rushing, three passing), 90 yards on 20 carries and 214 passing yards on 11-for-30 accuracy. He fell one touchdown pass short of the California single-season record of 63 scoring passes.
Graves and his teammates had to avenge a week-zero loss to Grant in the Sac-Joaquin Section final to make it to the state title game, and earned loads of respect among state and national pundits. He said that opening-game loss only fueled the team’s desire to get to Carson.
“I knew we had a chance. I wasn’t saying we were going to be here but we had a chance. Our main goal from there was to get back to Grant and beat them. We got better week in and week out,” Graves said. “This definitely put us on the map. It proved to the south that Folsom is a team and we’ve made a name for ourselves.”
Richardson did a little lobbying for his quarterback, who has risen to national prominence with a season most quarterbacks couldn’t even dream of.
“Dano is amazing. If he’s not state player of the year then I don’t know who should be,” he said.
Graves was great, and so were a host of Bulldogs.
Trosin finished with four catches for 87 yards, Richards caught three for 57 and Marcus Hendricks grabbed two passes for 37 yards.
Tanner Trosin came up huge in the third quarter on defense, forcing a fumble that Burton Dekoning pounced on and later intercepting a pass in the end zone that was tipped up by Tyler Trosin. Wessing recovered the kickoff that was sandwiched in the fourth-quarter onslaught, and he did it again later in the fourth.
It was a spectacular culmination of the season for the Folsom team, and it was also a monumental event for the city. Richardson said the state title win over last year’s Division III state champ better earn the city and its football team respect throughout the state.
“When you win a state championship you better be on somebody’s map. We’ve been so close the last few years. I just knew this team could get it done,” he said. “We love our community. It’s a small-town feel. I’ve lived here 16 years now and I don’t want go anywhere else. I’ve got an amazing administration, and the kids love it, the coaches love it.”