Perhaps obvious, but the athletic 6-foot-3, 205-pound Folsom quarterback is just a sophomore. Lot of kids get over-hyped, especially heading into high profile QB factory like Folsom. Not so. Yes, his team only scored one touchdown and managed 277 yards of offense, but it's obvious the lad is uber athletic, tough and a playmaker. The younger brother of USC linebacker Walker Lyons, Ryder already has 14 college offers incuding BYU, Cal, Colorado, Notre Dame and Oregon.
2. Nice to see Justin Alumbaugh truly happy
The good-natured De La Salle coach is easy to laugh, but his grin and happiness truly showed because of his Spartans' physical, old-school win. We were at both of his early season losses to Orange Lutheran and Serra and though he tried to spin as much good out of both losses, he was terribly disappointed in DLS' lack of toughness display. Especially in the opener against Orange Lutheran. "It all comes down to physicality," he said about the Spartans' three-game turnaround.
Beyond the point of attack, Alumbaugh always critiques how hard his running backs run. Juniors Blanche (23 carries, 123 yards) and Dominic Kelley (25, 108) earned A's under that umbrella. It was best displayed right before Toa Faavae's 1-yard TD sneak late in the third quarter. On 4th-and-1, Kelley broke three or four tackles on a 10-yard scamper, which was followed by an improbable 7-yard burst by Blanche who somehow broke free from a sure-tackling bunch at the line of scrimmage.
4. De La Salle's recipe for greatness: connections on a few pass plays
After trying to balance their offense early, the Faavae has thrown a combined 10 passing attempts the last three weeks. Alumbaugh freely admits, the Spartans need to capitalize on those attempts, which is what we recall them doing in their heyday. Drawing back from early wins over Folsom, current NFL tight end Devin Asiasi would run free in the secondary after hauling in passes. That hasn't been seen as of yet in the current offense. To get to the next level, the Spartans must at least connect on a few short to long gainers.
5. Drew Cunningham emerging as budding star, leader
The 6-foot-4, 225-pound linebacker/defensive end/tight end/offensive lineman is playing "like a true Spartan," Alumbaugh said, the ultimate compliment De La Salle coaches bestow on any player. Besides his obvious dominance — especially on the defensive end (11 tackles Friday) — Cunningham has become a vital vocal leader, according to Alumbaugh. A sure, hard-hitting tackler and big leader should be demanding more than the four college offers he has now at Army, Columbian, Pennsylvania and Yale.
6. Terry Eidson still making big impact
The defensive mastermind behind De La Salle's three decades of dominance, Eidson took a couple seasons off to focus on family. With a little more free time, he came back to help the Spartans' special teams. The last two weeks particularly, special teams have been key in victory. On Friday, the Bulldogs were pinned deep in their own territory most of the night, including a fabulous 38-yard pooch punt by quarterback Toa Faavae that rolled dead at the Folsom 1 in the final six minutes. In a 24-10 win over St. Mary's on Sept. 15, a 79-yard kickoff return by Johnathan Guerrero sparked the win.
7. Different look, same great rivalry
Some of the offensive weapons displayed between De La Salle and Folsom have been impressive, including NFL players, Folsom's QB Jake Browning (Bengals), OT Jonah Williams (Bengals), TE Josiah Deguara and S Jordan Richards (Ravens) and De La Salle TE Asiasi. And though this game was largely played and displayed in the trenches on Friday, the fierce and even battles all over the field renew the competition. "Their offense has always been outstanding, but they've got really really good on defense," Alumbaugh said. "And they are way more physical. It's a great matchup, it's a tough matchup. It's a great rivalry."