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SUPER SOPH | NorCal Offensive Player Of The Year: Ryder Lyons SUPER SOPH | NorCal Offensive Player Of The Year: Ryder Lyons
With 61 Total TDs, Three Fourth-Quarter, Championship-Winning Drives And A CIF State Bowl Title, Ryder Lyons Is The Most Recent Star Of The Folsom... SUPER SOPH | NorCal Offensive Player Of The Year: Ryder Lyons

With 61 Total TDs, Three Fourth-Quarter, Championship-Winning Drives And A CIF State Bowl Title, Ryder Lyons Is The Most Recent Star Of The Folsom QB Legacy

When Folsom’s 2-point conversion attempt failed with 2:41 to play, the casual fan probably viewed it as the Bulldogs’ last gasp of a tightly contested CIF 1-A State Bowl Game with St. Bonaventure-Ventura. 

Meanwhile, Folsom fans knew better: Crunchtime is Ryder Lyons Time. 

The Bulldogs defense got a stop and put the game in the hands of the team’s sophomore quarterback. Lyons promptly led a 56-yard scoring drive capped with a 2-yard pass to Jameson Powell with 20 seconds left for a 20-14 win. 

The dramatic ending marked the third straight week that Lyons had led a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter of a championship game. His 10-yard run with 34 seconds left beat Oak Ridge-El Dorado Hills in the Sac-Joaquin Section Div. I final. The following week he tossed a go-ahead touchdown pass to Powell with less than five minutes to go in the CIF 1-A Regional final against host Pittsburg. 

After that win, a writer asked him what he told the offense in the huddle as they began on their own 14-yard line trailing 18-14.

“Approach it like any game,” Lyons said. “Go out there and score. Execute. Get the job done.”

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When it came to Northern California football in 2023, there was arguably nobody better at that than Lyons. His late-game championship game heroics in combination with 61 total touchdowns led us to name him the SportStars Offensive Player Of The Year. 

Lyons gained the starting role a year earlier than expected following the early graduation of 2022 star signal caller Austin Mack. He wasn’t supposed to be here. But he quickly proved he belonged.

Folsom High quarterback Ryder Lyons gets loose on a run against Pittsburg
Ryder Lyons eludes Pittsburg defenders for some of his 138 rushing yards in the NorCal playoff. (Dave Gershon photo)

“I think he’s probably as good as a sophomore as (current Cincinnati Bengals QB) Jake Browning was as a sophomore when Browning was at Folsom,” CalHiSports.com founder and editor Mark Tennis said on SportStars’ 7 Friday Night podcast in early December. “And Jake Browning, when he was a sophomore, never had to play Serra-San Mateo in his second game and get beat like a drum. 

“Ryder’s second game was against Serra and he was just beaten to a pulp that day. But he just kept getting up, kept getting up, kept getting up. It was very impressive how he battled and they only lost by a touchdown at the end of the day. He went on to have a really outstanding season.”

 Lyons’ numbers included throwing for 3,578 yards and 38 touchdowns with just eight interceptions over 15 games. He also rushed for 929 yards and 23 more scores while leading the Bulldogs to a 13-2 record. His only losses were each by seven points and came against Serra ( NorCal’s CIF Open Div. Bowl representative) and De La Salle-Concord (NorCal’s CIF Div. 1-AA State Bowl rep). 

By the time the Bulldogs were deep into the postseason, it seemed silly to consider Lyons a sophomore anymore. Even the most experienced players on the roster didn’t see him that way. 

Ryder Lyons is centered and smiling amongst teammates as Folsom High celebrates a NorCal playoff win over Pittsburg.
Ryder Lyons, center, was all smiles amongst teammates as Folsom celebrated its NorCal playoff win. (Ben Enos photo)

“He’s a sophomore, but on varsity we don’t have any sophomores,” four-year Folsom standout RJ Whitten said of Lyons following the NorCal win over Pittsburg. “We have varsity players, and he got better every single week.”

That’s something Lyons has every intention of continuing as he gets ready for his junior year. 

“I think I’m pretty hard on myself,” Lyons said after the Pittsburg game. “I always can play better. … I’m going to celebrate wins, but I’m going to get back to work.”

Sleep tight, NorCal defensive coordinators.

Chace Bryson is the managing editor of SportStars Magazine. Reach him at Editor@SportStarsMag.com

Chace Bryson

Chace Bryson is the managing editor of SportStars Magazine. Reach him at Chace@SportStarsMag.com

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