CONCORD -- Andrew Buckley's future is as a pitcher for the Cal baseball team, but he doesn't show off his strong right arm on the gridiron.
Instead, it's the senior's all-around athleticism that has helped fuel the De La Salle High football team in an unbeaten season. Buckley catches, kicks, tackles and defends for a team deep in numbers and talent.
As the Spartans' primary receiver, starting free safety, punter and punt returner, Buckley will rarely come off the field when the Spartans travel to Sacramento State on Saturday for their first Northern California regional football game.
De La Salle (13-0) faces Folsom (14-0) in the highly anticipated Open Division contest that could fill 21,000-seat Hornet Stadium to capacity.
A win would put the Spartans in their fourth consecutive Open Division state bowl game.
Coach Bob Ladouceur calls Buckley quiet and focused. He also says he likes Buckley's competitive attitude.
"He's a gifted athlete and can do a lot of things. ... He's a pretty special player," Ladouceur said. "Take him out of the lineup -- he missed a game and man, that hurt us. He's kind of indispensable to our team."
Buckley showed off his myriad athletic talents from a young age. In second grade, he started competing in the Punt, Pass & Kick contest put on by the NFL.
As a freshman and sophomore, Buckley advanced to the national level of the competition that judges athletes in distance and accuracy
"That's how I became the punter here," Buckley explained. "The coaches always bring it up because I didn't win, I came in second."
Buckley is just as valuable on offense and defense for the Spartans.
With 31 catches and six touchdowns, he's the top target for junior quarterback Chris Williams.
The duo has been especially productive in the playoffs as the run-oriented Spartans strive for offensive balance with the competition getting tougher. Williams has thrown seven of his 11 total touchdowns on the year in the past two games, with four of those recent scores going to Buckley. The two have known each other since playing baseball together in middle school.
Buckley, who is responsible for six of De La Salle's 19 interceptions on the year, also is looking forward to the challenge of trying to slow Folsom's prolific spread offense this week.
"It's really fun to be able to do all those," Buckley said of his role on offense, defense and special teams. "I don't feel any pressure at all, I take it as a challenge, and I like to be challenged."
Maybe the best way to describe Buckley is "throwback." If he could, he'd play football, basketball and baseball for De La Salle.
"I thought I'd end up playing three all four years, but there's just so much commitment to all three sports I had to drop one," Buckley said.
He'll settle for staying busy on the football field.
Coach: Kris Richardson, eighth year
2012 record: 14-0
A closer look: The Bulldogs boast one of the most explosive offenses in the nation year after year. Sophomore Jake Browning, the latest in a long line of highly productive Folsom QBs, has 4,962 passing yards and 61 TDs in its vaunted spread offense. Browning is completing 65 percent of his passes and would tie California state records if he can throw for 223 yards and two TDs against the Spartans. The Bulldogs also can run the ball effectively behind Harry Lipnosky (791 yards, six TDs) and Bailey Laolagi (775 yards, 13 TDs). The Folsom defense is improved, allowing an average of 16 points in four playoff contests. Folsom won the Division II state bowl game in 2010 and is ranked No. 3 in the state by Cal-Hi Sports.
For a feature on Folsom High football co-coach Kris Richardson, a College Park High graduate who has his team on the brink of a state bowl game appearance, please visit www.contracostatimes.com/high-school-sports or www.insidebayarea.com/high-school-sports.