All the pieces are there to rebound from tonight's 49-14 shelling to Grant in a season-opener to make a title run. There's too much talent, too much leadership to let this derail things. If anything, look for a grumpy group in blue now.
"Oooh wow," Folsom coach Kris Richardson said of Grant, admiringly. "They're big, fast and physical. To beat a team like that you have to be on your A-game and that's on us, and it's them, too. That's a heck of a team."
And his team?
"They're angry and they should be," Richardson said. "We have nine games to go. Our plan is to play them again. It could happen. I love the group I have. Wouldn't want any one else."
No anger now. Just a lot of joy, with more to come.
The Pacers are great now. Great again, with room to improve. If history has told us one thing about the Pacers over the years under coach Mike Alberghini, it's this: When inspired, when angry, they are a unit to behold. Each of Alberghini's six Sac-Joaquin Section title teams were fueled by a crushing playoff loss.
Grant returns inspired and driven, smarting from that 21-19 loss to Rocklin, at Folsom when it could not pound it in at the goal line late, and when a last-play field goal just missed. Recent Grant rebound teams include the 2006 team that went 13-0 team and the 2008 bunch that went 14-0 team.
"When we have a bad thing happen to us," Alberghini said of a playoff loss, "we recover. We happen to have a lot of senior leadership and some great players. We still have a lot of games to go, but it's a nice start."
Grant rolled up 311 yards at the half and led 35-7 against a Folsom team that returned 19 starters from an 11-2 team. The Pacers defense allowed 250 yards receiving and 68 yards rushing by Dano Graves, but there's no shame there. We're talking an all-time competitor - and Alberghini praised him - but the Pacers did not give up touchdowns. Folsom generally scores in bunches.
The Pacers also have a nifty new quarterback in Terry Shine, who was unflappable in rushing for two scores and passing for three in leading Grant to 401 yards. Shine had 173 yards passing and 45 rushing. Shaq Thompson dazzled - and he will all year, it appears - as he rushed for 118 yards and had 91 first-half receiving yards.
Grant has the big bruisers on defense, the massive offensive line and difference makers in the unsung Ference Lang, who had two interceptions.
"Shaq's the real deal, Terry looks like he's going to be the real deal and Ferrence is a tough little dude," Alberghini said. "And we can get better."
Photo caption: Folsom quarterback Dano Graves scans downfield against the Grant defense. (Randall Bentonfirstname.lastname@example.org)