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December 15, 2013

Deja vu for Spartans

Different year. Different venue. Same Story. De La Salle had little trouble in beating Folsom 45-17 to reach its fifth straight Open Division state bowl. The Spartans will be joined by Enterprise after a 27-21 win over Manteca to mark the second appearance for the Northern Section.

De La Salle used an efficient run game and dominating defense to beat Folsom 45-17 in the NorCal Open Division Regional Bowl game. The Spartans are the only team to reach the state bowls every year since its inception in 2006 and will face St. John Bosco for the program's fifth straight Open Division title. It is expected to be one of De La Salle's toughest tests in the state bowl games.

The Spartans have won 40 in a row and haven't lost in-state since the 2008 Division I state bowl against Centennial. The premier program in the state, De La Salle has won 13 of its 14 games this year by at least 20 points despite graduating four players off a defense with Pac-12 offers and needing to replace its top runners.

"I thought our effort was good. I thought our defense played really, really well. I thought our secondary did a really good job. We didn't give up any big plays. I thought we rallied to the ball really well," De La Salle head coach Justin Alumbaugh said.

Chris Williams started the scoring with a 12 yard touchdown run on the Spartans' first drive. After Folsom netted a 36 yard field goal, John Velasco scored the first of his four touchdowns to put De La Salle up 13-3. The lead grew to 19-3 by halftime before the Spartans scored twice in the first six minutes in the third quarter to blow the game open.

Velasco finished with 152 yards and four scores while sophomore Antoine Custer had 131 rushing yards and 44 receiving yards. David Ortega had a pair of interceptions and Kevin Griffin had a first half pick.

"Next week, he has to lower his conditioning time. I've never seen him run that fast," Alumbaugh joked about his senior linebacker.

Folsom quarterback Jake Browning threw for 336 yards and a touchdown to senior Troy Knox with less than a minute left. The Bulldogs' top receiver on Saturday was senior Will McClure, who finished with 137 yards. They were held without a touchdown until the fourth quarter.

"To hold those guys to what we did, they've been putting up Madden numbers," Alumbaugh said.

Folsom ends the year at 14-1 and is 28-2 over the last two years with two section crowns. Early 2014 thoughts have De La Salle and Folsom at the top of the heap again. Douglas Benton

Enterprise completes comeback for historic win

The scoring came fast on Saturday night as Manteca jumped out to a 14-0 lead on two long drives to start the game. Enterprise answered with scores on their next three possessions to make it 21-14. Manteca then connected on a long pass play from Joe Menzel to Alex Laurel to make the halftime score 21-21.

The second half adjustments by both teams strengthened the defensive side of the ball. Enterprise appeared to surprise the Buffaloes when they went to a wildcat and Isaiah Matthews took the direct snap and covered 65 yard in four plays. Enterprise had a fourth and one from the 5 yard line when Enterprise head coach Darren Trueblood called timeout and told his team, "You want to go to Carson then go get this now."

Matthews picked up the first down and two plays later, the Hornets scored on a 3 yard run by Jace O'ravez for a 27-21 lead. The deciding play came when Manteca running back Alex Laurel fumbled the ball out of the end zone for a touchback with 10:13 left in the game and down 6 points. This was the last time the Buffaloes threatened.

This game was contested all night from tackle to tackle along the front as this was two very big and strong fronts. The matchup with the most intrigue was Enterprise offensive tackle Brandon Evers against Manteca defensive tackle Billy Sharmoug. They then would switch sides with Evers at defensive end and Sharmoug at offensive guard. With both at around 300 pounds and very athletic, they competed at a high level throughout the night.

"We show up and out physical you and just wear you down," Trueblood said.

The other big matchup was between Matthews, who came in with 1,860 rushing yards, and Laurel, who came in with 1,799 yards. Although they run with very different styles, both were effective. Laurel finished with 19 carries for 80 yards and Matthews had 165 yards on 33 carries. Late in the game when Laurel lined up in the slot, where he had success early in the game, he was a non-factor being covered by Matthews.

Next up for Enterprise will be the CIF 2013 Division II State Championship against Chaminade. Michael Benton

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