|Defensive linemen Vei Moala (left) & Puka Lopa (right) helped Grant set a state record with 78 sacks last season.|
The Grant Union Pacers will enter the 2010 football season as the No. 1 ranked team in the Sac-Joaquin Section, according the News10-HighSchoolSports.net Massey Ratings and fourth in the nation in some polls, due in large part to their potent defense.
"We've got to shut him down," Moala said. "We're going to mess up his snap a little bit and hopefully get up in his face and disrupt his pass. It's a great matchup to finally face a great offense like Folsom's."
Graves headlines the offensive firepower of the Folsom Bulldogs, who rank fourth in the Massey ratings.
Graves, who last season threw for 66 touchdowns and over 5,000 yards as a junior while anchoring one of California's most prolific offenses, said facing Grant will prepare them for better things to come.
"We're really excited," Graves said. "Grant's a great team and it will be a great opportunity for us and it'll prepare us for the league and the playoffs"
Folsom's head coach Kris Richardson knows the sizable challenge his team faces in Grant's defense, but feels his talented offense is ready to shine.
"I don't know if anyone is ever going to be ready for Grant," Richardson admitted. "But, we've been one of the offenses in the section every year and Dano Graves is one of the best quarterbacks in the nation."
Richardson was well aware of the hype heading into this game when he signed his team up for it back in April and knew the hype and attention surrounding this game would be unlike anything the Sacramento area has ever seen.
"I knew it would be a tremendous challenge for these guys," Richardson said. "(Grant) is one of the best defenses in the country and the hype around (the game) with ESPN, it's going to be fun."
For Grant, hype also brings forth distractions, like national television and hungry opponents, like Folsom.
"We told our guys we have a bullseye on our back," coach Alberghini admitted. "Folsom is a very talented team and well coached team that has a lot of experience returning and they've had a long time to prepare for this game."
Although they respect the talents and the challenge of the Folsom Bulldogs, there is a swagger that comes along with being a former state champion and being No. 1-rated in the section. Friday, Alberghini said it is the expectation of the Grant Pacers to beat Folsom.
"We're ready," defensive coordinator and Athletic Director Reggie Harris said. "We're going to give our community what they want to see, and that's a win."