Folsom High football coach Kris Richardson and assistants Jeff Badger and Rob Lobese are very familiar with the De La Salle football program.
All three coaches grew up in Contra Costa County when the Spartans were in the early stages of their rise to national prominence. Now the three will be on the opposing sideline when the Bulldogs face De La Salle in the Northern California Open Division regional championship game Saturday at Sacramento State. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.
"I'm excited to play De La Salle. It's a great measuring stick to see where your program is at," said Richardson, a 1987 College Park High graduate who has been Folsom's head coach for eight seasons. "That's what you prepare for. If you get in that Open game, you know you will end up playing De La Salle."
Richardson was an offensive lineman, and he also played for Diablo Valley College and the University of New Mexico before he finished his education at Chico State.
"De La Salle was not in our league but I knew plenty of guys who played there," said Richardson, who grew up in Pacheco. "They were always a great program. They were just getting it rolling back then. They were the top dog and everybody knew it."
Badger, Folsom's linebackers coach, is a 1987 Clayton Valley graduate. He also played at DVC before he received a football scholarship to University of Pacific.
"We played De La Salle in high school," said Badger, recalling his last high school game
"I have friends whose kids go to De La Salle and Carondelet," he said. "It is going to be so exciting (Saturday). We hope to play well and make it a great game. ... We almost look at it as a bigger game than going down south for the big game."
Lobese, a 1989 graduate of Ygnacio Valley, grew up close to the De La Salle campus.
"It was 15 to 20 houses away," said Lobese, the defensive line coach at Folsom. "I had an opportunity to play against them my junior and senior year. I also coached at Ygnacio Valley with (current Clayton Valley Charter coach) Tim Murphy."
It will be Lobese's 42nd birthday on Saturday when his team faces De La Salle.
"You see them win so much, you've been on the other side of those losses," Lobese said. "You want to go after them and try to knock off the giant."
Richardson mentioned the spread offense that coach Troy Taylor installed in the early 2000s and establishing a year-round training program as some keys to Folsom's rise. Taylor, a former Cal quarterback who also played for the New York Jets, is back on the sidelines with the Bulldogs this season.
"His first year we were an I-back, counter power team. We were a 6-4 team perennially," Richardson said. "We wanted to spread people out ... Troy is one of the smartest offensive guys I've been around.
The Bulldogs have averaged 46.8 points per game this season and have not scored less than 30 points in their past 11 games.
There was also work done on the other side of the ball.
"In my early years we were always in shootouts. We have improved defensively steadily the last four years," Richardson said. Folsom has allowed 19.5 points per game this season.
The Bulldogs also aren't fond of punting.
"It started a few years back. We started studying high school punts," Richardson said. "It's a big-play opportunity for the punt team.
"Our kids have bought into it. They are confident on fourth down ... We can punt, we just don't like to."
Don't expect a major change in philosophy from the Bulldogs on Saturday.
"We are not going to change what we do the last two weeks of the season. We are 14-0," Richardson said.