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POSTED October 22, 2009 2:03 a.m.

Valley Oak League

Sierra (3-0, 6-0) at Sonora (2-1, 5-1)

• Kickoff: Friday, 7 p.m.
• Last year: 38-14, Sierra
• Key matchup: Sierra RB/SS Jarrod Daniels vs. Sonora RB/LB Dan Link. Two of the league’s top two running backs go head-to-head from both sides of scrimmage. Link has 926 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns but was kept out of the end zone in last week’s 37-13 loss at Manteca, while Daniels leads VOL rushers with 19 scores to go with 911 yards.
• Closer look: Sierra defeated the Wildcats for the first time in 10 years on Homecoming night last year. It will be a tougher task this time around at Sonora’s famed Dunlavy Field, where the Timberwolves have never won. Making matters worse, quarterback Jonathan Davis is questionable after suffering an ankle injury vs. Central Valley. Both teams are coming off sloppy games, with Sonora losing four of five fumbles to Manteca and Sierra turning it over five times, including two picks that went for TDs. The Timberwolves remain No. 8 on’s CIF Bowl Division II-North rankings, while Sonora is on the bubble.

East Union (0-3, 2-4) at Central Valley (0-3, 2-4)

• Kickoff: Friday, 7:15 p.m.
• Last year: 30-10, Central Valley.
• Key matchup: East Union LBs vs. Central Valley RB Vince Lopez. Lopez rushed for 143 yards and a touchdown against Sierra’s tough run-stopping defense last week. He also returned an interception for a score to keep the Hawks close in the first half.
• Closer look: Either team will pick up its first VOL victory on Central Valley’s Homecoming night after both faced three of the stingiest defenses to start the regular season. And both teams will have to win out to have a shot at the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs. Quarterback Dennis Johnson hasn’t thrown a TD in league after a hot start to the season, and his status is in question after he left last week’s game against Oakdale with an ankle injury. Back-up TeeJay Gordon, the team’s starting running back, performed admirably in his place.

Ceres (0-3, 0-6) at Manteca (2-1, 4-2)

• Kickoff: Friday, 7 p.m.
• Last year: 41-7, Manteca.
• Key matchup: Ceres LB Hadon Lopez vs. Manteca RB Marquis Miller. Both standouts are coming off big weeks. Lopez racked up 20 tackles in a 35-15 loss to Weston Ranch, while Miller helped the Buffaloes hand Sonora its first loss with a 160-yard, two-touchdown performance.
• Closer look: Ceres has lost nine of its last 10 going back to 2008, and things don’t get any easier with all-league quarterback Josh Edwards done for the season with ACL and MCL tears to his right knee. The Bulldogs will try and avoid its second 0-10 season in three years, but Manteca and undefeated Sierra are next. Manteca will look to build on last week’s blowout of previously unbeaten Sonora with defending champion Oakdale on the horizon.

Oakdale (3-0, 6-0) at Weston Ranch (2-1, 3-3)

• Kickoff: Friday, 7:15 p.m.
• Last year: 42-0, Oakdale.
• Key matchup: Weston Ranch LBs vs. Oakdale RBs. Oakdale’s smash-mouth Wing-T continues to chug along behind running back Devin Brooks and bruiser Tim House. The Mustangs trampled East Union’s defense to the tune of 390 rushing yards last week.
• Closer look: The Cougars are riding a two-game winning streak but a tough task awaits them. Oakdale remains in the running to represent the North in the Division II State Bowl Game and are ranked fourth. Weston Ranch’s offense is off and running after making midseason tweaks, but Oakdale has kept four of its six opponents to single-digit scoring. The schedule also gets a little tougher for the Mustangs, who throttled the VOL’s three 0-3 squads by an average of 40 points.

Trans Valley League


Modesto Christian (1-0, 6-0) at Ripon (1-0, 5-1)

• Kickoff: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
• Last year: 36-10, Modesto Christian.
• Key matchup: Ripon defense vs. Modesto Christian QB Isaiah Burse. Burse, in his fourth varsity season, is the TVL’s top all-around player. On top of completing 63 percent of his passes for 701 yards and 13 interceptions to no picks, he leads the Crusaders in rushing (535 yards, nine TDs) and is one of their top defenders (41 tackles, two sacks, three INTs).
• Closer look: Ripon can virtually clinch a playoff spot with a victory Friday, but it won’t come easy. Modesto Christian is the top-ranked small school in Northern California according to the Bowl rankings. The Indians’ stout defense has improved ever week, but can they slow down an offense that has yet to be held to under 40 points? They have one common non-league opponent in Argonaut, which lost to MC 48-35 after blanking Ripon, 24-0.

Ripon Christian (0-1, 2-4) at Riverbank (0-1, 2-4)

• Kickoff: Friday, 8 p.m.
• Last year: 52-13, Ripon Christian.
• Key matchup: Ripon Christian OL vs. Riverbank DL Edgar Luna and LB Jose Moreno. RC will have to get its run game going but will have to find ways to keep the Bruins’ biggest bruisers handcuffed. Luna stands at 6-feet, 3 inches and 300 pounds, while Moreno checks in at 6-2, 270.
• Closer look: Both of Ripon Christian and Riverbank’s victories came against the same non-league opponents — Delhi and Waterford. The Knights have lost three straight, but three of their four losses this season are to playoff-caliber teams. Their one-two backfield punch of Isaac Norman and fullback Josiah Neeley struggled the past two weeks. They will be key in Friday’s size-vs.-speed matchup, but it always starts up front.



Soledad (1-4) at Lathrop (0-6)

• Kickoff: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
• Last year: N/A
• Key matchup: Soledad QB Aaron Gavina vs.  Lathrop front seven. Gavina is the heart of the Aztecs offense as their leading rusher and passer. He has scored their only rushing touchdown this season.
• Closer look: Lathrop, which will host its first game since opening the season against Sierra Sept. 11, stands a good chance at locking down its first-ever varsity victory after letting one slip away in a 22-13 Week-4 loss to Big Valley Christian. Soledad’s only victory came against winless Gonzales, 16-14 on Oct. 9. The Aztecs’ worst defeat came by a 50-0 margin to Pacific Grove, which is 1-5.

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