We could have gone 20 at least on this high school football game/event, but here's the top 10 from Friday's 23-15 Folsom win at Pittsburg in the SBLive's unofficial Northern California Game of the Week.
1. The atmosphere 'destroyed.' OK, so I didn't know who "Deestroying," aka Donald De La Haye, before Friday's game but I sure do now. If the YouTube star and FCF Glacier Boyz owner was attracted to a prep game, then the event had some juice. The sideline presence of close to a dozen college coaches — most notably Stanford's David Shaw and San Jose State's Brent Brennan — was another clue. Add in the packed stadium, perfect weather and Pittsburg's world-traveled marching show band, and the atmosphere was — sorry daughter — lit.
2. Rico Flores is future star. We're not just talking just as a four-star wide receiver heading to Notre Dame. He's got an 'it' quality on camera because of his honesty and charisma. He talked about how he was familiar with many of the Pirates back when they were 'pups,' playing in youth leagues. He also had refreshing answers about how heated and controlled the combatants were, largely based out of respect. "It was competitive, but a fun competitive — nothing dirty."
3. Healthy showmanship. Pittsburg entered the field through a cloud of orange smoke, a player waving a Pirate flag, the team skipping toward Folsom, pointing fingers, some crossing the imaginary midfield line. It drew a bright yellow flag and the Pirates were penalized. Folsom players inched toward Pittsburg and seemed more entertained than threatened while passing on the general message of, "bring it on." None of it spilled over to taunting or, as Flores said, dirty play. Instead from wire-to-wire, the action was intense, hard-hitting, but simply good, healthy combative play. "It was all hype," Flores said about the pre-game display. "We're at their house. It's big. they want to come out hyped and rowdy. We had to come out hyped too. We were hyping in the locker room. We had to be professional about things."
4. Jaden Rashada is going to be just fine. The Pittsburg 5-star quarterback, committed to Miami, threw four interceptions but two of them were tipped and another was a throw-away that proved more like a punt to pin Folsom deep into its own territory. He was under duress most of the night, escaped multiple sacks and still completed 20 of 35 for 280 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed 10 times for 73 yards. "He is so smooth and a natural talent," Folsom coach Paul Doherty said. "He's going to do great things."
5. Rashid Williams can catch anything. After watching the Pittsburg receiver and Washington commit make two spectacular catches — one on a touchdown and the other on a two-point conversion — I was reminded of what the team's offensive coordinator Jimmy Shipe said before the season: “He’s a vacuum of the football. He has such a large range. You put the ball out there and there’s no pass he can’t catch. I’ve never coached a receiver like that. A guy on his hip, a guy in front of him, behind him, he’s going to catch it." I thought Shipe might have been exaggerating. Not now.
6. Zachary Card has another gear. On a field with a lot of great athletes, the Oregon State-bound receiver for Pittsburg simply has another gear. He had 7 catches for 172 yards and an 80-yard touchdown. Watching him zip through the Folsom secondary, I was reminded that he finished sixth in the CIF state 100-meter dash in the spring and has a best of 10.47 seconds.
7. Pittsburg is going to be fine. The defense is quite stout, holding Folsom to 250 yards, and essentially 10 points (the Bulldogs scored on a 75-yard field goal block return and a 12-yard drive after a punt block), the Pirates found a running game with Elijah Bow and with their lethal passing game should pile up big points and yards throughout the year. They finished with 427 total yards. Two glaring problems Friday: protecting Rashada and special teams.
8. Folsom's defense is formidable. Yes, 427 yards is a big number, but four different players intercepted passes: Slade Wilson, Diallo Washington, Greco Carrillo and Mason Kelly. They always seemed in the right place. Other than the 80-yard bomb and another 37-yard Card catch in run, the defense stayed right with the Pirates and tackled so well. A credit to longtime defensive coordinator Sam Cole.
9. Washington's interception was the most important. Yes, the field goal block Joseph Chavez and 75-yard return by Ayreon Smith was a possible 10-point swing, but Washington, an impressive 6-foot-3, 215-pound defensive end, made a spectacular leaping tip of a Rashada wide receiver screen, then a diving interception that thwarted what could have been Pittsburg gathering all the momentum to start the second half.
10. Folsom is not afraid of De La Salle any more. The Bulldogs return back to the Bay Area on Friday to face the Spartans (3-1) in yet another fantastic cross-sectional battle — the fourth in five weeks — to likely help the CIF determine a NorCal Open representative. Folsom lost five straight times in the series by a combined 181-69, but got over the hump with a 28-27 win at De La Salle last season for the regional Division 1-AA title. Doherty said the Spartans were a better football team that night but it didn't matter. "Our kids have been through it. I think (De La Salle) is a little bit better than we are. We've played De La Salle enough to know they're a better football team than we are. They were a better team than we were last year but I felt like we played better on that one night. If we play well, we can beat anyone. We have to play a lot better on offense."