FOLSOM, Calif. - Terry Shine
didn’t say it, but he wanted to scream. You could see it in his wide, reserved smile. You could feel it seeping from his bright, proud eyes.
The diminutive and reserved 5-oot-9, 150-pound
quarterback, who hid inauspiciously behind his team’s humongous and star-studded offensive line, was the one big major question mark for the country’s No. 5 team. He was the one possible flaw.
“I have to admit I was a little nervous for him coming into the game,” Grant senior lineman Villiami Moala said. “But he came out here and proved us all wrong.”
Everything was right for the Pacers, starting with Shine.
The junior accounted for five touchdowns – three passing – in Grant’s surprisingly lopsided 49-14 victory over host and No. 24 Folsom
in a much-awaited showdown Friday between nationally-ranked teams before 6,000 jammed-packed fans and a national television audience.
Shine rushed for scores of 10 and 5 yards on his team’s first two possessions, not only setting the tone for the game but lifting his confidence, as well as his team's faith in him.
He later completed scoring tosses of 26 yards to do-everything back Shaq Thompson
, 41 yards to Ronald Johnson
and 26 yards to Ference Lang
“It feels pretty good,” said Shine walking away from a post-game television interview. “I feel like I proved myself – though I could have done better. On a scale of 1-to-10? I’d give it a seven. There’s lots more I could get better at.”
It was an ironic twist for the unsung signal-caller who out-shined his counterpart
, who last year accounted for 66 touchdowns and is the poster boy for Folsom’s program.
Though Graves did throw for 250 yards, he completed just 21 of 37 passes with one touchdowns and two interceptions. Last season, he completed 75 percent of his passes with 52 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
“He (Graves) was pretty good,” Shine said. “My job was not to do better than him, but just help us win. I think I did that.”
A victory over the high-powered Bulldogs, who scored 603 points in 13 games last year, wasn’t so surprising,
Winning by five touchdowns was.
The Pacers looked very much like one of the five best teams in the country, while racing to a 35-7 halftime lead when they piled up 311 of their 402 total yards.
Thompson, a physical and fast 6-1, 195-pound junior who Folsom coach Kris Richardson called the best running back he’s ever coached against, added 18 rushes for 127 yards and two touchdowns and Lang added his touchdown grab, 71 yards rushing and two interceptions.
The team’s vaunted offensive and defensive line, which includes the 6-3, 330-pound Moala, the No. 33 recruit in the nation according to MaxPreps recruiting expert Tom Lemming, was dominating throughout.
The defense held the Bulldogs 30 points under their season average a year ago and most of Folsom’s yards came long after this one was decided.
“I’d give us an eight (out of 10)," said Thompson, who added three catches for 91 yards. “We made a lot of penalties (16) but overall we did really well. We have lots of time to get better.”
Same goes for Folsom, though Richardson was more impressed with Grant than down on his team.
“I see ESPN ranks them fourth in the nation," he said. "I think they deserve to go higher.”
Alberghini was happy with the win, but not all the penalties.
The last time his team played on the field was in last year’s Sac-Joaquin Section semifinals, losing 21-19 to Rocklin following 26 straight victories. The night before Folsom dropped a wild 43-42 game to Del Oro. Both teams lost when kickers missed 22-yard-field goals on the final play.
Both games occurred on the same field
“This feels a whole lot better,”Alberghini said. “We still have a lot of to work on, but that was a good win. The boys really competed.”
Dominated is another word. Right from the get-go.
The Pacers went 80 yards in 11 plays on first drive of the game, finished off with a 10-yard TD keeper by Shine. “That really boosted my confidence,” Shine said. "That took a lot of pressure off."
Thompson was good as advertised, ripping off a couple tough eight-yard runs and taking a screen and rambling for 18 more to set up the TD. He finished with three catches for 91 yards.
“The kid is the real deal,” Alberghini said of Thompson, considered one of the top 100 juniors in the country according to MaxPreps.com.
Folsom came right back, traveling to the Grant 18 following a 53-yard pass from Graves to Carson McMurtrey. But one play later, Graves was picked off in the end zone by Lang, who returned it 45 yards.
That helped set up Shine’s second TD, a 5-yard naked bootleg left after a 38-yard screen pass to Thompson, making it 14-0.
"He went the wrong way (on the touchdown)," Alberghini admitted. "But we'll take it."
The Bulldogs showed their grit, going 71 yards capped by an 8-yard TD pass from Gravies to Tyler Trossin, closing the gap to 14-7 just before the end of the first quarter.
From there, it was all Pacers as they scored three unanswered touchdowns in the second quarter, highlighted by a bullish 8-yard TD run by Thompson, who ran right over sure-tackling linebacker Burton Dekeoning.
That kind of reflected the entire night.
Despite the lopsided score, and the long painstaking contest - it lasted 3 hours and 26 minutes - Richardson would love a rematch.
"Hopefully we'll see them again," he said. "If we carry out our business the rest of the season, we'd get another shot at them. We'd love that chance." 10 Takes from Grant-Folsom1. Grant might as well make reservations to Carson:
It's no garden spot, but the Pacers will be making a second Bowl-game appearance in three years. Whether it's Open (more than likely) or Division I, Grant already looks like a lock not only based on its impressive performance but light schedule. Its one road block was Folsom and the Pacers crashed through better than Steve McQueen in "Bullet." 2. Shaq is good as advertised:
Living up to high praise these days is difficult, but Shaq Thompson very much seems destined to be one of Northern California's all-time biggest recruits. The junior tailback/defensive back is so strong, so fast and quick, yet it's the little things that vault him to elite status. Like the way he catches the ball so softly, then gets up to top speed immediately. He has a great, calm demeanor - no showboat. Great body language too. Before the game, Grant baseball coach Danny Chavez said Thompson started in center field and pitcher last season as a sophomore, despite not playing competitively since he was 10. "He stole home three times, once standing up," Chavez said. Keep in mind, Thompson went to the state meet in track - the same season as baseball. "He's very, very special," Alberghini said. 3. Same for Graves:
Clearly this wasn't Graves' shinning moment by any means. He threw a couple key interceptions and only accounted for one touchdown after contributing to 66 last year. But on the 'wow factor,' he was still a definite 10. What feet! He made some of the region's top athletes miss more than a few times. Even though Alberghini was impressed by him on film, the Grant coach was even more impressed in person. "He's better than I thought," he said. "He's tough. I mean real tough. What a competitor. He took some real big shots, but kept getting up and making our guys miss." 4. Small coming up big:
You think Shine is small, so was one of the game's top players, 5-8, 150-pound senior Lang. He's listed as a wide receiver but he ran the ball effectively all night, plus made two big interceptions in the secondary. "Shaq is the real deal and it looks like (Lang) is too," Alberghini said. "He's one tough dude." 5. Tiny plays huge:
Grant's top senior recruit, Moala is just a beast as everyone says. But here's a little secret. There's no way he's 6-3. He's closer to 6-foot. That doesn't mean he's anywhere near his "Tiny" nickname. It's just an observation. Doesn't matter though, at 340 pounds he's built like a Kenmore refrigerator. In fact, that should be his name: Ken Moore. Nice, jovial kid too. A menace on the field, but a pussycat off of it. 6. Best part:
The most impressive part to me about Grant wasn't its speed, or size or physical nature. It was the Pacers' demeanor I liked best. At halftime, up 35-7, they ran off the field and didn't do a lot of hooting and hollering. It was really like they expected that score. It's not cocky. Just a real, nice, calm confidence. Much like Moala. Maybe because he and at least two of the other senior captains were there two years ago as sophomores when the Pacers shocked Long Beach Poly in the State Bowl Open Game. 7. Don't worry about Folsom:
The score wasn't really a big statement against the Bulldogs as an endorsement for Grant. Richardson said he wants another shot at Grant and I think he'll get it. I expect Graves and his team to bounce back in a big way and roll through the rest of the season undefeated. It may take a week or two to lick the wounds applied by Grant. 8. No huge dropoff:
I'd be tempted to demand an asterisk to the last take pending Graves' health, but backup quarterback Tanner Trosin looks like one of the best quarterbacks period in the area. He played the last two series' and though no one can match Graves' remarkable feet, it was difficult to tell the two apart as far as running Folsom's fast-paced, spread offense. 9. Richards is golden:
Of Folsom's talented receiving corp, Jordan Richards (5-11, 195) definitely had the best game and looks like a Division I prospect. He had 13 catches for 126 yards and last year's leading receiver Tanner Trosin added six catches for 95 yards. 10. Game on: Much was made of treatment of local media by ESPN
and staff heading into the game. Most of the complaints were from the restraints and tight reigns concerning credentials and field access - yada, yada, yada. To the average prep fan just trying to enjoy a high school football game, who cares? Indeed it was tighter and way more controlled than it needed to be - at least right up until two hours before kickoff - but cooler heads prevailed and it ran much like any other big high school event. Thanks to some experienced, wise folks at Paragon Marketing Group, who ultimately put on the event in conjunction with ESPN, the shackles were released and everyone pretty much got the access needed to do their jobs. One ESPN producer, however, got in the neck of a Sacramento Bee reporter she incorrectly thought didn't have press box access. She screamed - among other things - "I'm ESPN. I can have you thrown out of here" To which the reporter retorted, "I can literally throw you out of here." Tense then, funny now. Bottom line, everyone was putting out their best effort - just trying too hard in many cases, which is just the competitive, American way. It's natural really. Especially in our state of economy where jobs are precious and everyone a tad nervous about fumbling. Rather than working together, much like freeway traffic, folks often become enraged. Besides the game going painstakingly too long, this definitely passed the test. The Folsom folks were fantastic hosts, the weather was cool for this time of year, and the action hot. Mitch Stephens is a senior writer and columnist for MaxPreps. See his live blog of the game.