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POSTED October 15, 2009 2:03 a.m.
Valley Oak League
OAKDALE (2-0, 5-0) at EAST UNION (0-2, 2-3)

• Kickoff: Friday, 7:15 p.m.
• Last year: 35-0, Oakdale.
• Key matchup: East Union OL vs. Oakdale DL Tim House and LB Charlie Gilstrap. Oakdale boasts the stiffest defense in the league having kept four of its five previous opponents to single digits going into Friday’s contest against EU’s revamped offense. The Lancers’ linemen will key in on the Mustangs’ two big playmakers.  
• Closer look: East Union’s postseason chances took a hit with last week’s 27-7 loss at Weston Ranch. Junior tailback TeeJay Gordon has struggled to get it going in the regular season, and things don’t get any easier against the defending champion. The Mustangs, No. 4 on the California Interscholastic Federation Division II Bowl rankings in the north, have been unstoppable on the ground, with Devin Brooks and House shouldering the load from the backfield.

SONORA (2-0, 5-0) at MANTECA (1-1, 3-2)

• Kickoff: Friday, 7:15 p.m.
• Last year: 28-14, Manteca
• Key matchup: Manteca LBs vs. Sonora RB Dan Link. Sonora has attempted just 23 passes through five games, so its intentions are no big secret. Link, a dynamic runner a 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, has rushed for 793 yards and 10 touchdowns.
• Closer look: Manteca hasn’t lost to Sonora since 2005, 31-28. The two met again for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III championship, won by Manteca, 34-7. Friday’s game is a must-win for the Buffaloes after suffering a 23-15 defeat to Sierra. Manteca’s attack stalled after putting up 56 and 44 points in Weeks 3 and 4. Sonora’s defense has yet to yield 20 or more points in a game, so it could be low scoring.

CENTRAL VALLEY (0-2, 2-3) at SIERRA (2-0, 5-0)

• Kickoff: Friday, 7:15 p.m.
• Last year: 31-28, Central Valley.
• Key matchup: Sierra LBs vs. Central Valley RB Vince Lopez. Sierra’s defense has faced several top-flight RBs already, allowing just one (Patterson’s Nathan Shelton) to rush for over 100 yards.
• Closer look: Central Valley goes head to head with the third of the VOL’s remaining undefeated teams in succession. Sierra is coming off its biggest win (23-15 over Manteca) of the season so far and remains No. 8 in the CIF Bowl Division II North rankings. The Hawks have allowed 35 points over their last three games, and 32 in Week 2 non-league win over Bret Harte. In Central Valley’s defense, each of those opponents is expected to make the playoffs, including Oakdale and Sonora.

WESTON RANCH (1-1, 2-3) at CERES (0-2, 0-5)

• Kickoff: Friday, 7:15 p.m.
• Last year: 21-6, Ceres.
• Key matchup: Weston Ranch WR Angell Mayfield vs. Ceres DB Justin Canatsy. The Cougars involved their big-play threat in the offense more last week, and Mayfield produced 11 receptions for 72 yards and a TD. Canatsy, a good receiver in his own right, leads Ceres with two picks.
• Closer look: Weston Ranch is fresh off its best effort of the season — a one-sided 27-7 victory over East Union. The win keeps the Cougars in the hunt for a playoff bid, and avenging last year’s Homecoming loss to Ceres would further improve their chances. Ceres snapped a 15-game losing streak with that win but has since dropped eight of nine. Ceres standout QB Josh Edwards is out for the year with ligament tears in a knee, which could benefit Weston Ranch’s big-play defense.

Trans Valley League
RIPON (4-1) at HUGHSON (1-4)

• Kickoff: Friday, 7:15 p.m.
• Last year: 42-40, Hughson.
• Key matchup: Ripon OL vs. Hughson DE Justin Aguilar. The 6-foot-4, 245-pound behemoth is Hughson’s leading tackler with 50 and already has 11.5 sacks.
• Closer look: Ripon fell on the short end of last season’s triple overtime thriller, costing it a playoff spot. The Indians, who stunned Calaveras 14-10 last Friday, can put themselves in a good position to qualify with a win. Hughson had a rough preseason, and two of its losses came against opponents (Bret Harte, Linden) that Ripon came from behind to beat. Ripon’s defense has gotten better, but its smallish lines will be tested against Hughson’s giants.



• Kickoff: Friday, 7:15 p.m.
• Last year: 42-6, Escalon.
• Key matchup: Ripon Christian LB Josiah Neeley vs. Escalon RB Steven Silva. One of the state’s leading tacklers in Neeley goes head on with the anchor of Escalon’s ground-and-pound attack. Silva has 750 yards and 14 TDs.
• Closer look: With size, speed, depth, experience and tradition on its side, the TVL’s defending champion has major advantages over the small-school Knights. Escalon, No. 6 on the CIF Bowl Division III North rankings, shut out three of its five non-league opponents while averaging 38.4 points per game on offense. Ripon Christian’s league opener is certainly a mismatch, but the experience could prove valuable for the underclassmen as the Knights move into the Southern League next season.

• Kickoff: Friday, 7:15 p.m.
• Last year: N/A
• Key matchup: Lathrop defense vs. Christian Bros. QB Michael Lahey. Lahey has completed 63 percent of his 60 passes for 370 yards and three TDs, but he’s also the Falcons’ second leading rusher with 197 yards and two TDs.
• Closer look: Lathrop faces its fourth opponent coming off a playoff run in 2008, but the first-year varsity squad is showing signs of improvement. Lathrop outscored undefeated Bella Vista 14-3 in the second half last Friday, and the Wishbone Offense is getting production from promising sophomore RB Xavier Walden. Christian Brothers likes to spread the wealth, as four different runners have at least 19 rushing attempts, and Lahey has hit 10 different receivers.
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