FOLSOM, Calif. - Cars were lined up along Prairie City Road two hours before kickoff. Police blocked off the high school's parking lot entrance because it was already full and they were directing overflow traffic further down the street.
Sports talk radio hosts interviewed guests all day to discuss the Sacramento (Calif.) Grant-Folsom matchup and its implications, its meaning to the city's landscape. Some prep sports writers here said it was going to be the biggest regular-season matchup in Sacramento's history.
Grant didn't back down, didn't relent, didn't fold even in hostile territory and before a national audience on espn2.
The Pacers are too good - led by stud junior running back/defensive back Shaq Thompson, four-star prospects Viliami Moala and James Sample and many others. They used this opportunity to convincingly prove that Grant is one of the nation's best football powers.
Thompson finished with 118 yards and one rushing touchdown on 20 carries and he caught three passes for 111 yards and another score as Grant routed Folsom, 49-14, at Prairie City Stadium.
A raucous Folsom pre-game crowd was quieted down - and quick.
"That was a great football team right there," Folsom coach Kris Richardson said. "We didn't execute very well and tackled poorly but that's a great football team. They're ranked No. 4 in the nation. They're higher than that now in my book. That was a great football team."
Junior quarterback Terry Shine, all of 5 feet 9 and 150 pounds, totaled five touchdowns (three passing) and had 181 passing yards and 48 rushing yards. He was a question mark for Grant entering Friday's game.
"He's come so far in the short time we've had him at quarterback," Grant coach Mike Alberghini said. "As long as he does well then we didn't have to move Shaq into quarterback and he's a devastating running back for us."
The fierce triumvirate of Moala, defensive end Puka Lopa and linebacker Darryl Paulo kept consistent pressure on Folsom's offense. Those three doubled on the offensive line, opening up gaping holes for Thompson to run through. Thompson also did a lot of work on his own, dragging multiple defenders lots of times.
"Shaq is a great running back," Alberghini said. "Shaq is a tremendous athlete and he can do a lot of things.
"We're going to try to move him around and we have a lot of really talented kids. We just try to tell Terry, he doesn't have to play great, he just has to distribute the ball to the great athletes and then we have a really good offensive line."
Moala said: "Shaq Thompson, you don't regularly tackle Shaq Thompson. You need three or four people to tackle him. Our offensive line dominated so it makes it harder for them to tackle him."
Shine scored on 10- and 1-yard runs in the first quarter to give Grant a 14-0 lead before Folsom quarterback Dano Graves hit wide receiver Tyler Trosin for an 8-yard touchdown late in the first to make it 14-7.
Graves, a 5-foot-10, 175-pounder, finished 22 of 37 passing for 255 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. He also rushed for 64 yards and a score on 16 attempts. In his junior season, Graves threw for 3,882 yards and 52 touchdowns.
But Grant answered back three times in the second quarter to take a 35-7 halftime advantage, all but locking up an early victory. Thompson, whose brother, Syd'Quan played at Cal and so the Golden Bears are an early favorite, caught a TD pass and ran for a score in the second. Shine also hit Ronald Johnson on a 41-yard touchdown strike.
After Grant scored to make it 42-7 midway through the third, Graves scored on an 8-yard keeper to cut the lead to 42-14. The game's final score came with 6:48 left when Shine hit senior wide receiver/cornerback Ference Lang for a 26-yard touchdown. Lang also had two interceptions.
Thompson was spectacular at running back and said he's just warming up to the idea of playing that position. Most colleges recruiting him - he said USC has recently expressed lots of interest - like him at wide receiver or defensive back. He's learning on the go and doing a fine job with it.
"This is my first game at running back and (coaches) see I run hard but I think I could have run a little bit harder," Thompson said. "I just ran for yardage and not big runs."
Recent Stanford commit Jordan Richards had a game-high 13 receptions for 124 yards in a losing effort. Trosin finished with six grabs for 102 yards and a score. Three-star Kori Babineaux had four catches for 33 yards.
Even though Folsom was dominated in its opener, the Bulldogs should not be tested like this all season. Expect them to win lots of games.
If Grant continues to play this well, look out, because not many teams across the country can keep up with this group. A packed house mainly of Folsom fans can attest to that statement. The Pacers gave people around here lots to talk about after this showing.