The two coaches eyed each other, smiled and then embraced.
Kris Richardson and T.J. Ewing know each other, have faced each other before as opponents and they respect each other.
Richardson is the coach at Folsom High School, the region’s preeminent powerhouse. The Bulldogs are in a Sac-Joaquin Section championship game for the ninth consecutive season and seeking their seventh banner of the decade.
Ewing coaches Monterey Trail, which is 12-0 and still stands as a prohibitive underdog against Folsom when the clubs meet for the Division I banner. That’s just fine with Ewing. He embraces the role of upstart.
“That’s what it’s all about,” Ewing said.
Folsom and Monterey Trail faced off in past years in the Delta League, Ewing relying on his program’s run-heavy veer offense and Richardson going with the spread and the pass.
“It’s like a Delta League reunion,” Richardson said.
Here’s a closer peek at the section title games for Divisions I-V:
Saturday at Sacramento State, 7:30 p.m.
The Bulldogs can stretch even the best teams thin on defense with wideouts Elijhah Badger (838 receiving yards, 16 touchdowns), Joe Ngata (1,084 yards, 19 scores) and unsung effort guy CJ Hutton (514 yards, seven scores) being targeted by Kaiden Bennett.
The senior quarterback has tossed 52 touchdowns with no interceptions during his team’s 11-game winning streak, largely achieved in first-half action before blowouts prompted a seat for the starters.
Folsom can also run with Daniyel Ngata (725 yards and nine scores to go with seven receiving TDs) and the defense has been nails behind stoppers Tyler Hardeman, Caleb Nelson, DeShawn Lynch, Parker Clayton, Noah Jenkins and a host of others.
Monterey Trail counters with terrific athletes as well, including QB/DB Zach Larrier and RB Jehiel Budgett, each capable of breaking a 70-yard scoring burst.
Larrier has passed for 17 touchdowns, 12 to deep threat Andre Crump, and he’s rushed for 15 scores. Budgett has rushed for 1,509 yards and 23 scores.
These three will have to reach the end zone plenty to keep pace with the Bulldogs.
Saturday at Sacramento State, 2 p.m.
This is the Tradition Bowl, as the programs have combined to win a remarkable 30 section banners in divisions II-V with a combined 38 title-game appearances.
Del Oro is in a final for the fourth successive season, seeking its sixth banner of the decade and 12th since 1989. Seventeen starters are back from last season’s section runner-up team, headed by three-year players Dawson Hurst and Tatuo Martinson.
Central Catholic is explosive on the ground and has bounced regional powers Elk Grove and Inderkum out of this postseason.
Del Oro last played Nov. 9, the gap due to smoky air from the Butte County Camp Fire and from Jesuit having to forfeit its semifinal contest due to inadvertently using an ineligible player.
Saturday at Whitney High School, 7:30 p.m.
The faster team is Capital Christian, but the more experienced one is Placer, with 17 starters back from a team that won a section crown last season and nearly won a CIF State banner, too.
Both teams rely on the run, Capital with its all-time career leading rusher D’Marcus Ross (1,978 yards, 21 TDs) and Placer with Hans Grassman (1,539, 23, Brad Bishop (901, 13) and Jesse Whigam (625, eight).
Both teams have excellent linemen on both sides of the ball, too, meaning it’ll come down to who wins the trenches.
Saturday at Whitney High School, 2 p.m.
Rio Linda last won a title in 2004 under coach Mike Morris and Casa Roble last won one in 2008 under coach Norm Ryan.
The top-seeded Knights won’t reinvent the wheel here as coach Jack Garceau will again rely on RB Cameron Skattebo, who has rushed for a school-record 2,606 yards and 32 TDs, though QB Tyson Ybarra is a running threat, too, with 953 and 11 scores.
Casa Roble coach Chris Horner relies on balance with QB Marciano Huston and backs Devin Carmona, Austin Gandy and Dylan Overstreet. Carmona leads the Rams with seven sacks.
Friday at Nevada Union High School, 7 p.m.
The top-seeded Falcons beat their chief rivals 41-14 on Oct. 19 to win the Pioneer Valley League, but it means nothing because of what happened a year ago. Colfax topped the Bruins in the 2017 regular season only to lose to Bear River in the D-V section final. (Bear River also beat Colfax for the section title in 2014.)
Alex Weir has passed for 2,292 yards and 35 touchdowns, Daniel Bliss has run for 702 with seven scores and Troy Little has gone for 694 and five scores for Colfax.
Bear River counters with QB Calder Kunde (1,074 yards, 19 TDs) and RBs Tre Maronic (1,155, 12 TDs) and Hunter Daniels (712, 14 TDs).
Colfax is in a section final for the 11th time under 200-game-winning coach Tony Martello, and Bear River is in a final for the seventh time under 200-game winner Terry Logue, co-coach with Scott Savoie.
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