Sabias Folley enjoys having a good time.
Whether it’s listening to music with his friends or playing sports with his brothers and teammates, the Charlottesville High School senior can always be seen with a smile on his face.
The 5-foot-11, 238-pound running back was grinning from ear-to-ear last Thursday night as he rushed for 244 yards and a pair of touchdowns to lead Charlottesville to its first victory of the year.
Folley’s performance in his final high school football game earned him Schewels Athlete of the Week honors.
“My mindset going into my last game was the same one I’ve had all year, each game and each week,” Folley said. “Just flipping the switch with I hit the field and turning on that inner beast inside of me. It was special to me, though. Every yard and I enjoyed the feeling of the victory at the end, so that’s always great.”
For the season, Folley eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the third straight season and finished his career with more than 3,500 yards and 57 touchdowns. As a senior, he rushed for more than 1,300 yards and 14 touchdowns despite facing opposing defenses that crowded the line of scrimmage to try and stop him.
“It only made me go harder, preparing for each game,” Folley said. “The hardest defense, to me, was when teams stacked the box with six-plus defenders. It’s hard to do anything when teams overload the box in the offense we run.”
Charlottesville is only team in the Jefferson District that runs the triple option. Folley serves as the fullback, or B-back, which is the primary option in the game plan.
“Playing in the triple-option offense was fun,” Folley said. “You just have to be tough. I got hit pretty much every play. The key to making it work for me was to carry out all my fakes when I didn’t have the ball. That way, all the defenders focused on me, so my teammates could make plays. Being how big, fast and physical I am, it fit the offense pretty well.”
Charlottesville coach Eric Sherry agreed.
“The B-back is critical to our offense,” Sherry said earlier this season. “It is the flag-bearer of the scheme. Sabias brings speed, toughness and leadership, every day. He has great balance, power and vision. It’s been a pleasure to coach him and his brother.”
Sabias said it was his big brother, Sadarius that got him interested in football at an early age.
“I saw how much fun he was having, and I wanted to have that much fun playing, too,” Folley said. “I grew up playing just football and basketball. I was pretty good at basketball, but I fell in love with football. I loved the physicality of it.”
A student of the game, Folley said he patterns his game after running backs such as Saquon Barkley (Giants), Ezekiel Elliott (Cowboys) and Kareem Hunt (Chiefs).
“They are all explosive backs,” he said. “ I worked a lot on speed training during the offseason and I did some agility drills to try and get my footwork better.”
In addition, he changed his diet this offseason to help add another dimension to his game.
“I lost a lot of weight and that helped my knees with less pressure from my weight,” he said. “The most underrated part of my game is my speed. A lot of defenders forget how fast I actually am. I’d say that gave me an advantage.”
Although he would’ve preferred an opportunity to play postseason football, Folley said he has no regrets about this season.
“This season didn’t go as planned for anybody on the team or the coaching staff,” Folley said. “It was definitely tough to stay positive after losing every week, but it built a lot of character in me. It tested me mentally and physically to come out every week, trying to get better.”
College coaches have taken notice. Folley said he has received interest from several in-state schools, including Virginia. Liberty and James Madison. His lone offer thus far is from the University of Virginia at Wise.
Off the field, the senior has other passions, including music and fashion.
“I love music, period,” Folley said. “I’ve even thought about making my own music in the future. I also love fashion. I like dressing up nice, because if you look good, you feel good.”
In school, his favorite subject is history.
“I like to learn about the past and how different things started,” he said.
Now that his high school football career is over, Folley credits his brother, Sadarius, for paving the way for him.
“Playing football with my brother, Sadarius was always fun,” he said. “We both made everything a competition so that was interesting. We both made each other better by going against each other every day at practice. He tested me mentally and physically when we battled, so that only made me better. I feel like he was stronger than me and tougher, but I was the better athlete.”
Folley finished his high school career with three straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons, an accolade he takes a lot of pride in.
“That milestone means a lot to me, because that’s just a result of how hard I worked during each offseason,” he said. “I just have so much fun out there on the field every year. Rushing for 1,000 yards was me playing tough and having fun, simple as that.”