The 2022 Central Catholic Raiders huddled together in the cold for the last time. The blue of the Prairie City Stadium turf reflected their mood after they fell to the Folsom Bulldogs 62-27 in their Sac-Joaquin Section Division I semifinal.
“It was going to be a game of momentum,” said Paul Doherty, Folsom's head coach. “If they controlled the momentum, we were going to be in trouble. We tried to speed up the pace, tried to throw the ball more than we normally do. … We had the momentum of the game and were able to come out on top because of that.”
The Raiders came out strong with Maria Savalla III sacking Folsom quarterback Austin Mack in the first play of the game. Just two minutes later, Raider running back Tyler Jacklich put CC on the board with a 79-yard touchdown.
For the next 4 minutes, Folsom slowly advanced down the field, 5 yards at a time, before Austin Mack completed a 4-yard touchdown pass to Onterrio Smith Jr. Two minutes later, Savala followed Jacklich’s example and ran for a 53-yard touchdown himself.
But this is when the cracks began to show. Kicker Xavier Diep missed his extra point. Rico Flores Jr. rushed for a 1-yard touchdown. With Jake Termain’s PAT, the Bulldogs took the lead, a position they maintained the rest of the night.
Before the end of the first half, Folsom players were able to score touchdowns twice more (Abram Woodson, Brian Ray III). The game entered halftime with Folsom ahead 28-13.
The Raiders seemed to get their second wind after halftime and looked to be leashing the Bulldogs, but ultimately couldn’t hang on. Folsom scored twice more in the 3 minutes remaining in the third quarter. First, a 12-yard pass from Austin Mack to Greco Carillo and then after an interception by Ayreon Smith, a 35-yard pass to Smith.
Jacklich, who was nursing a minor hip strain, opened the fourth quarter with a 7-yard rushing touchdown. Folsom answered with a 10-yard rushing TD by Donovan Maxey-Parler.
Determined to close the gap, CC quarterback Tyler Paul Wentworth completed a 30-yard pass to Brooklyn Cheek, who rushed an additional 25 yards to score. But that was it for Central. Folsom went on to bury the Raiders with another two touchdowns (Norberg and Ray).
Raiders head coach Roger Canepa was disappointed in the outcome but proud of his team for what they accomplished in the first season competing in D1.
“We made it to semifinals; nobody thought we'd make it this far,” he said. Canepa took the blame for the stumble. “I didn’t call a good game, we didn't play our best game on offense or defense. I’m in charge, it’s on me.”
Savala, a senior, was thankful for all that football has taught him as he wraps up his high school career.
“The competition teaches you a lot about life and just how to come back from adversity,” he reflected. “I’m thankful that I was a part of this journey with the coaches and players. I’ve grown not only as a football player but as a person.”
Samantha Schmidt is a freelance photographer and reporter with FrontRowPreps.com. Her work has also been featured in the Turlock Journal and other Central Valley publications.