All season long it had been Monterey Trail that dominated their opposition. The Mustangs rolled into this Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship game with a blowout victory over Pitman and a 28-point victory over Oak Ridge last week but the Mustangs knew they would have anything but their hands full with top ranked Folsom.
The Bulldogs came into the title game losing only once this season to Northern California juggernaut De La Salle High School by a score of 14-0 back in August and beating every other opponent this season by at least 36 points and have been the cream of the crop in the Sac-Joaquin Section for a handful of years. In fact, Folsom came into Saturday night’s title game for a ninth straight year.
Unfortunately for Monterey Trail, this game would be no different for Folsom.
After battling toe-to-toe with Folsom in the first half, the Mustangs saw themselves down only eight at halftime by a score of 21-13.
Unfortunately for Monterey Trail, the Bulldogs came out for the second half and showed everyone why they were heavy favorites.
Folsom scored 42 points in the third quarter alone and ran away with the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I title 63-25 last Saturday at Hornet Stadium on the campus of Sacramento State. The championship is the seventh section championship this decade alone for the Bulldogs.
“The depth and talent of Folsom really got us in the second half and some missed opportunities near the end of the first half really could have changed some things for us,” said Monterey Trail head coach T.J. Ewing
“When you play a national level team like they are you have to play mistake free and we did that for a while but it was not enough.”
In the first half, Monterey Trail showed a lot of energy and will against the Bulldogs. The Mustangs were able to match a Folsom score with a 20-yard touchdown run by Viktor Oliver.
Then after a 27-yard touchdown pass from Folsom quarterback Kaiden Bennett to Daniyel Ngata gave the Bulldogs a 14-7 lead, Andre Crump ran back the opposing kickoff for a touchdown for the Mustangs to bring the underdogs within one point after the PAT was blocked.
From that point on, things starting taking a turn for the worse for Monterey Trail. On the kickoff after the Crump touchdown, linebacker Marcus Jones Jr. laid out a huge hit on Folsom return man Joe Ngata and forced him to fumble the ball. The Mustangs would recover the ball but the officials declared that Ngata was down by contact, which was a questionable call itself.
“The fumble we recovered which they called him down would have been huge for us and I think it really changed the game.” Ewing said.
Retaining possession, Folsom would score on that drive with Bennett throwing a four-yard touchdown pass to Parker Clayton.
Monterey Trail would then drive the ball down to the goal line right before halftime and look the cut the Bulldog lead once again. However, running back Jehiel Budgett would throw an interception on a running back pass trick play with 13 seconds left to play.
To start the second half it was clear Folsom got an earful from head coach Kris Richardson. The Bulldogs came out and forced Monterey Trail into a three-and-out and would score a couple of minutes later.
Then, within a matter of three minutes and 49 seconds, Folsom had scored 21 more points and put away the Monterey Trail attack.
“They are really talented and they showed it and made plays and once you get down by so much it gets really tough to come back,” Ewing said.
Bennett was the star on the night for Folsom, the senior came into the game with 57 total touchdowns and would go on to account for another seven touchdowns against the Mustangs through the air and on the ground. In addition, Daniyel Ngata scored two total touchdowns and gave the Bulldogs some balance on offense.
Although Monterey Trail’s season ended in a lopsided defeat, this season as a whole for the Mustangs was without a doubt the best in the school’s 14-year history. The 12 wins this season is a school record and will be hard to match for years to come.
“It was a great run and it was so fun to be around this group of kids for this long,” Ewing said.
“The parents and this community really got around this football team and it takes a lot of work from a lot of people to make that happen.”
Next year, the Mustangs will have to replace top players on both sides of the ball like Budgett and Zach Larrier, among the other 15 seniors on the roster.
Although, the Mustangs will have some key players from this year’s section runner-up team to lean on as they attempt to build off of this year.
Monterey Trail will return their top tackler this season in Jones Jr. and should rely on running backs Caleb Ramseur and Prophet Brown to take over for Oliver and Budgett in the backfield.
“We have a good nucleus of kids that are good hard workers and will get prepared for next year in the off season,” Ewing said.
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