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Vacaville set for playoff battle with Folsom

vaca_folsom_12_3_11

Vacaville High running back Curtis Goins runs past Folsom's Mark Meyer during the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II Championship at Sacramento State in 2011. Vacaville won the game 39-35. (Robinson Kuntz/Daily Republic file)

By
From page B1 | November 17, 2012 |

VACAVILLE — Vacaville vs. Folsom in the postseason.

It’s become regular thing as the Bulldogs and the Bulldogs square off Saturday night for the third straight year in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II football playoffs.

Last year they met in the championship game, a 39-35 Vacaville triumph for its second section crown in six seasons.

In 2011 things didn’t go as well for Vacaville as Folsom cruised to a 75-6 win en route to the Division II CIF state title, scoring all of its points in the opening half, a section record.

“It’s been really, really fun,” said Mike Papadopoulos, coach of No. 9 Vacaville. “It’s almost like part of our season now.”

After two postseason battles with Folsom, Papadopoulos said he’s come to enjoy matching wits with the other Bulldogs.

“(We have) so much respect for their program and how they go about their business,” he said. “It’s so completely different from anything we see all year.”

This year it’s looking like a monumental task as No. 1 Folsom (11-0) is unbeaten and has yet another ultra-talented quarterback in Jake Browning.

But that’s hardly the whole picture as Folsom also has a monster defense that’s held opponents to just a little more than 20 points per game this season.

“They haven’t had many close calls throughout their season and have gotten after guys pretty good,” Papadopoulos said. “Their quarterback distributes the ball well, they have a good running game and their defense is playing really, really well.”

Basically, there’s not a weak link at Folsom.

Browning has thrown for 4,147 yards on 296 for 445 passing this season, and in last week’s playoff opener, he threw for 421 yards and seven touchdowns, according to Folsom’s stats at www.MaxPreps.com.

He isn’t the running threat that 2011 QB Tanner Trosin was. Against Vacaville in the title game, Trosin threw for 407 yards and four TDs, and he rushed for 101 yards and another score. Browning has just nine yards on the ground this year.

“We just have to see how things move forward. They have a great cast of kids again,” Papadopoulos said. “They do a super job there.”

Vacaville isn’t taking Folsom lightly at all, knowing what a challenge it was the last two seasons.

“It’s exciting. One of the biggest components is that the kids are having a great time,” Papadopoulos said. “There’s some familiarity with their program, but the big part is that the kids are wanting to continue to play.”

That fact alone has affected what Vacaville does on a daily basis, Papadopoulos continued.

“They’re really excited for the opportunity,” he said.

Vacaville is no stranger to powerful teams, having faced Marin Catholic, Deer Valley, Valley Christian of San Jose, Oak Ridge and Granite Bay in the preseason and Rio Linda in the first round of the playoffs.

“Last week those guys were no slouches either,” Papadopoulos said. “(Folsom has) a lot of speed on the field and they’re fundamentally sound everywhere.”

Two years ago, when Vacaville headed to Folsom for a second-round game, the driving rain was a major factor.

As of Friday, the National Weather Service was calling for a 100 percent chance of rain with as much as three-quarters of an inch falling Saturday night, so Papadopoulos isn’t taking any chances.

“It’s going to be raining on both sides of the field and probably in the middle, too,” Papadopoulos said. “Two years ago I think we had over eight turnovers and when we started, we didn’t get the ball outside the 20 on our first four or five drives.”

As he said after the first-round win over Rio Linda, game management will be crucial.

“Managing the ball in adverse weather is something we spend time on,” Papadopoulos said. “Hopefully it will not be a factor. We try to turn every stone over. Also, being on an artificial surface should bode well for both teams.”

Reach Mike Corpos at 427-6979, or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/mcorposdr.

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