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POSTED August 29, 2013 10:46 p.m.


Manteca’s newest school hosted Tracy’s oldest in this pairing of former Valley Oak League foes. Anthony Cota of Sierra kicked off his record-breaking campaign with 176 rushing yards and two TDs in a 32-26 victory over Tracy High. Jayson Manuta gave Sierra boost in crunch time, connecting with Jordan Lewis for a 51-yard touchdown on a halfback pass. QB Guillermo Nunez threw the game-winning TD with 3:42 remaining, and the Sierra defense tightened up to secure the win.

In other Zero Week action:
Ripon 45, Bret Harte 0 — Ripon players left Angels Camp dissatisfied, an indication of how gaudy expectations were for what culminated into an outstanding season for the Indians. Miscues plagued them early, but they finished with a 444-163 advantage in yards gained from scrimmage. Cole Herrin was one of many standouts on this night, hauling nine passes for 100 yards and a TD.
St. Mary’s 67, East Union 13 — It was 27-0 by end of the first quarter in Stockton, as St. Mary’s went over, around and through the Lancer defense with its high-powered offense let by QB Kaleb Parrish. He had racked up three passing scores and one rushing by the 6:49 mark of the second quarter. Mantecan Logan Sanders chipped in two TDs for the Rams.

Ripon High celebrated the completion of Phase 1 of the Stouffer Field Revitalization Project with a 47-7 throttling of Linden. The Indians took control early with Anthony Baciocco breaking into the end zone three different ways in the first half: a 9-yard catch, 35-yard interception return and 41-yard run. Linden was outgained 441 yards to its own 146 and didn’t get on the scoreboard until there was 5:21 left in the game.

In other Week 1 action:
Manteca 34, Edison 6 — Manteca rode its workhorse in the first half of its season opener, as Eddie Smith handled 17 of the team’s first 23 rushes. He had 126 yards (finishing with 164) and three TDs in the first half. The defense dominated, giving up only 14 rushing yards after allowing a 41-yard rush on the first play from scrimmage.
Sierra 52, Grace Davis 6 — Anthony Cota broke Sierra’s single-game touchdown with seven, the last of which was scored 1 minute, 15 seconds into the second half. His took the rest of the night off, finishing with 175 yards on 17 carries. Joshua Gonzalez, who was 7 for 7 on PATs, accounted for the rest of the scoring, adding a 23-yard field goal.
Liberty Ranch 42, Lathrop 7 — A competitive game early on turned into a rout thanks to 28 unanswered points scored by Galt’s Liberty Ranch. There were few highlights for visiting Lathrop, which got an early interception from Preston Rizo and a 17-yard TD pass from Kenny Garrett to Austin Plunk.
Weston Ranch 28, Franklin 26 — The Cougars won their first season opener since 2005 in double overtime. Candelario Elizondo bulled his way into the end zone for the third time on the eventual game-winning score, and James Simerley’s two-point run was the difference. Franklin later came up empty on its conversion pass to extend the contest.
Orestimba 31, East Union 13 — Mark Aguilar (140 total yards, TD) and QB Lucas Garcia (18-22, 177 yards) highlighted a balanced attack for EU, but it wasn’t enough for the Lancers to keep up with Orestimba’s punishing ground attack that amassed 376 yards.
Ripon Christian 28, Elliot Christian 13 — The Knights had the latest start to the season, playing their opener on Saturday. It was a preview of their postseason matchup to come, as Brandon Dotinga grabbed his second interception late in the game to help hold off Elliot. He also caught a TD pass as RC shot out to a 28-0 lead in the third.

James Sams took center stage in one of the area’s marquee Week 2 matchups, spearheading Los Banos’ 42-28 win at Manteca with his unforgettable effort. He gashed the Buffalo defense for 337 yards and three scores on 49 carries. Los Banos led 14-0 in the first quarter, but Manteca would later take its only lead, 21-20, with Alex Laurel’s 93-yard on the opening kickoff of the second half. The Tigers countered with a decisive 21-point rally.

In other Week 2 action:
Ripon 62, Ripon Christian 13 — The Ripon Bowl rivalry game went to Ripon High for a seventh consecutive year, this time by a 62-13 margin. With only 18 healthy players suited up, talented Ripon Christian simply couldn’t keep pace after trading blows early and trailing, 14-13. It was all Ripon from there, as it went on to score 35 points in the first and rolled up 614 yards of offense.
Sierra 48, Laguna Creek 6 — Sierra avenged its 2011 loss to Laguna Creek in a big way, as RB Anthony Cota hit paydirt three times in the first four minutes. Cota finished with 169 yards, and the defense forced five turnovers before losing the shutout midway through the fourth.
Tokay 28, Weston Ranch 6 — The defense shined in the first half, helping Weston Ranch carry a 6-0 lead into halftime. A special teams breakdown — resulting in a 91-yard return — to start the second half was just the boost visiting Tokay needed. The Tigers mounted a 28-pount flurry and had four different players score in the second half despite being held to 160 yards of total offense.
Capital Christian 34, Lathrop 6 —
Touted lineman Nifae Lealao and Capital Christian overwhelmed the Spartans with size and athleticism from the outset. Lathrop’s Kenny Garrett broke up the shutout with 6:54 to go.

On the night that Lathrop High dedicated Bennie Gatto Field it was Ripon celebrating in the end, capping its preseason run with a 4-0 record and a 37-3 victory. It started well for the host Spartans when Eric Deleon nailed a 34-yard field goal for an early lead. Josh McCreath (146 yards, 2 TDs) anchored the offense, but it was Ripon’s defense that kept Lathrop at bay as the Spartans failed to capitalize on six turnovers.

In other Week 3 action:
Stagg 51, Manteca 47 — Arguably the most electrifying game of the year ended in heartache for Manteca, which led the explosive Delta Kings 41-29 after piling up 27 third-quarter points. Behind QB Wayne Brooks (395 yards, six TDs), Stagg continued to air it out in the fourth and went ahead for good on a 7-yard pass with 48 seconds remaining. Signal caller Ryan Fox (248 total yards, six TDs) was the standout for the Buffs.
Ripon Christian 47, Big Valley 0 —
The Knights bounced back well from the previous week’s blowout loss at the hands of rival Ripon. Andrew Brown led the offense with 179 rushing yards and three TDs, while Clayton Blankers racked up 14 tackles and two sacks for the defense.
Weston Ranch 16, Bear Creek 8 — Linebacker Sean Visperas’ 55-yard fumble return tacked on the final points of the game in the waning seconds of the first half, as Weston Ranch dominated throughout on defense. John McDonald (13 rushes, 116 yards) sprinted 80 yards to paydirt on game’s first play from scrimmage.
Modesto Christian 31, East Union 6 — The Lancers hung tough over the final three quarters, but MC had done more than enough damage in the opening period to have things under control. They trailed 26-0 by halftime and scored the game’s final points late in the third on Aaron Ramos’ 16-yard run. Mark Aguilar had over 100 yards (76 rushing, 33 receiving) of offense in the defeat.

Playing in his first VOL game as a varsity player, sophomore QB Lucas Garcia lifted the Lancers to a 28-7 triumph over Lathrop at East Union. He accounted for three of EU’s touchdowns (2 passing, 1 rushing), while RBs Mark Aguilar (17 carries, 118 yards) and Victor Lopez (11 carries, 66 yards, TD) helped take the load off the underclassman. It would be the only win for EU in 2012.

In other Week 4 action:
Ripon 34, Escalon 28 — Ripon kicked off its 2013 TVL run with a wild win over the defending champion Cougars. Ripon had to ward off a furious Escalon comeback after leading 28-7 early in the fourth quarter. With the score tied at 28-28, Bradley Clark (6 receptions, 114 yards) hauled in the winning 34-yard TD pass from Kyle Wengel with 55.9 seconds remaining. It was Ripon’s first win over its traditional rivals since the mid 1990s.
Oakdale 49, Sierra 7 — The biggest VOL game of the week turned out to be a dud. Sierra was expected to be Oakdale’s stiffest challenge to its thrown, but the Mustangs instead had their way after rolling to a 21-0 first-quarter lead. Sierra standout Anthony Cota was held to 49 rushing yards, while Oakdale FB Nikk Ryan (142 yards, 3 TDs) stole the spotlight.
Ripon Christian 35, Mariposa 14 — There was another key league opener, this one in the small-school SL. Ripon Christian made its biggest statement of the early season, as Andrew Brown (30 rushes, 198 yards, 2 TDs) highlighted a trouncing of a traditional powerhouse. The Knights led 35-0 at halftime.
Manteca 42, Kimball 28 — The Buffaloes were locked in a third straight shootout, but on this night they came out on top. Eddie Smith grinded out 200 yards and five TDs for Manteca, while Kimball QB Zach Johnson (14-23, 177 yards, 2 TDs; 201 yards rushing, TD) put on a show in his season debut after serving a three-game suspension.
Sonora 41, Weston Ranch 15 — Weston Ranch’s defense battled valiantly in the early going, but the offense was held to just 10 plays in the first half. Sonora eventually wore down the Cougars with its punishing run game, and Kade Barajas broke two big scoring plays (76-yard kickoff return, 40-yard reception) to put it out of reach in the second half.

There were three homecoming games in the area, one involving intra-city rivals. Sierra bounced back from its first, and what would end up being its only, regular-season defeat with a 63-7 shellacking of East Union. Quarterbacks Jake Pruitt (14-16, 214 yards, TD) and Guillermo Nunez (2-2, 54 yards, TD; 101 rushing yards, 2 TDs) and RB Anthony Cota (21 rushes, 87 yards, 4 TDs) spearheaded the rout. Mark Aguilar rushed 14 times for 90 yards and the only score for EU.

In other Week 5 action:
Manteca 34, Weston Ranch 6 —
Alex Esan’s 87-yard TD on a kickoff return gave Weston Ranch life early, but the Cougars’ offense couldn’t get untracked as Manteca rolled to a homecoming victory. Eddie Smith scored three touchdowns, and QB Ryan Fox threw for 92 yards and ran for 93.
Ripon 52, Modesto Christian 0 — That Ripon won was no surprise. That it did so this decisively was. Talented MC was celebrating homecoming and the school’s 50-year anniversary, but it was the Indians who put forth the spirited effort. Defensively, they allowed just 3 total yards from scrimmage in the first half. Kyle Wengel made the most of his nine passing attempts, completing seven of them including four for TDs.
Ripon Christian 50, Denair 14 — Andrew Brown teed off on the Denair defense, scoring six TDs while piling up 324 all-purpose yards. Clayton Blankers led the defense with 13 tackles.

Sierra’s Anthony Cota returned to his old stomping grounds at Manteca High and stomped his way to 222 rushing yards and five TDs in a 35-26 rivalry win. The star RB, who transferred after his freshman season, finally got the better of his former teammates after losing as a sophomore on the varsity team and missing the 2011 contest (another defeat for Sierra) while out with a broken arm. The Buffaloes countered with Eddie Smith (121 yards, TD) but were ultimately stumped by two failed fourth-and-short plays.

In other Week 6 action:
Weston Ranch 12, East Union 7 — A depleted Weston Ranch team rallied to spoil EU’s homecoming night in a matchup of two struggling teams. The Cougars’ defense clamped down after giving up an EU score early in the first half. The Cougars answered with Alex Esan’s 76-yard TD return on the ensuing kickoff, and John McDonald’s 19-yard run with 8:30 left in the fourth was the deciding play.
Ripon 35, Hughson 27 — Ripon was nearly stunned on its homecoming night a week after throttling the Modesto Christian Crusaders on theirs. The Indians blew open a 21-0 lead, but Hughson — led by RB Tanner Duron (112 yards) and QB Kyle Kerlee (185 rushing yards, 2 TDs) — did not go away quietly, scoring 27 unanswered points. Josh McCreath’s 1-yard TD put Ripon back up for good.
Ripon Christian 42, Turlock Christian 6 — In this installment of the Andrew Brown Show, the junior RB punched scored 21 points in the opening 160 seconds of this SL shellacking. Taking over kicking duties for hobbled QB/K Dan Vos (11-16, 181 yards, 2 TDs), he nailed all six of his PATs while scoring all six touchdowns.
Oakdale 42, Lathrop 0 — The host Spartans hung tough in the early going, battling the juggernauts from Oakdale to a scoreless first-quarter tie. Oakdale picked up momentum by blocking a field goal and scored 28 unanswered points.

Ripon continued its pattern of alternating near-perfect performances with lackluster efforts. This was one of the good nights. Michael Ysit set the tone with a 95-yard kickoff return on the opening play, and the Indians didn’t let up from there in a 42-7 thumping of reigning section champion Hilmar. Although the Yellowjackets tied it up at 7-all early in the second quarter, Ripon returned fire with a 35-point flurry that went unanswered. Kyle Wengel threw for 216 yards and 3 TDs, and breakout star Bradley Clark (108 yards, 2 TDs) was his top receiver.

In other Week 7 action:
Manteca 27, Sonora 20 — Manteca didn’t lead until the final 27 seconds of Sonora’s homecoming game, one that the tradition-rich Wildcats certainly looked at later in the year when they would miss a playoff berth. The Buffaloes relied on the big-play ability of Alex Laurel (79 rushing yards, 2 total TDs) to spark them after trailing 14-0 at halftime. It was his 23-yard reception from QB Joe Menzel (162 yards, 2 TDs, 1 rushing) that pushed the Buffs ahead in the end.
Sierra 58, Kimball 45 — Arguably two of the VOL’s most explosive athletes met up at Don Nicholson Stadium in Tracy. Ultimately, the night belonged to Anthony Cota (218 rushing yards, 5 TDs; 100 receiving yards, TD) and the Timberwolves, but Kimball QB Zach Johnson (358 passing yards, 4 TDs; 151 rushing yards, TD) also left his mark. Sierra led 58-29 until Kimball scored 16 unanswered in the final 5 minutes.
Weston Ranch 15, Lathrop 6 —
It was a homecoming battle marred by penalties, special teams miscues and scuffling offenses at Weston Ranch. Down 6-2 in the fourth quarter, the Cougars claimed the lead with a 51-yard pass from Joe Tillman to Traeshon Gulley with 4:41 remaining, and Candelario Elizondo later ran in an insurance TD from 10 yards out.
Oakdale 54, East Union 6 —
The Mustangs galloped out the gates scoring 28 first-quarter points and the reserves continued the domination from there.  It wasn’t until late in the fourth quarter that EU got on board with Mark Aguilar’s 2-yard run.
Ripon Christian 37, Delhi 21 — Ripon Christian escaped an upset after Delhi battled the Knights to a 14-all tie in the first half. Dan Vos (331 passing yards, 3 TDs), WR Spencer Hower (140 yards, 2 TDs) and RB Andrew Brown (134 receiving yards, 83 rushing) came through with big plays in the second half.

Anthony Cota continued to his assault on the Sierra High record books, rushing for a new single-game best 361 yards and four touchdowns on 37 carries while lifting the Timberwolves to a 47-42 win over Sonora. Quarterback Jake Pruitt balanced the offense with 275 yards and two TDs on 18-of-24 passing. His 67-yard TD pass to Bryson Sanders gave Sierra a 47-28 lead with 6:11 left. Sonora scored 14 unanswered but came up short as its postseason hopes took a significant hit.

In other Week 8 action:
Ripon 41, Riverbank 19 — Ripon ran its undefeated streak to nine and clinched at least a share of the TVL title despite sloppy play that kept Riverbank in the ballgame early. The Indians took a 21-0 lead into the second quarter but turned the ball over on their first drives of the opening two periods. Anthony Baciocco carved up the Bruins defense for 130 yards and two TDs on just 12 rushes.
Manteca 56, Lathrop 0 — There was no stopping the Buffaloes on this night, as they moved the ball at will offensively no matter who was in the game. Six different players scored, and QB Joe Menzel completed all five of his passes for 138 yards and three TDs.
Waterford 49, Ripon Christian 7 — Two dynamic backs were featured in the marquee SL matchup of the night, but in the end it was all Dylan Gonzalez (191 yards, 3 TDs) and the Wildcats. Andrew Brown (75 rushing yards, 71 receiving) gave RC an early lead with a TD catch, but the injury-depleted Knights struggled to keep pace.
Kimball 53, East Union 28 — Kimball overwhelmed EU with its superior speed and athleticism, amassing 519 yards of offense. The Lancers struck first inside the first two minutes of the game, but the Jaguars swung back with a 34-point flurry for the remainder of the half.
Oakdale 54, Weston Ranch 0 — Oakdale scored early and often, mounting a 47-0 halftime lead.

The mighty Mustangs of Oakdale nearly went the length of the VOL season unchallenged. Manteca, however, proved itself worthy against the eventual section and NorCal champion. When the dust settled, Oakdale’s impenetrable defense was the difference in a 28-7 win. Alex Laurel’s 28-yard TD run gave Manteca hope with 5:59 to go in the third, cutting Oakdale’s lead to 14-7. But the Mustangs’ dominated possession the rest of the way, claiming at least a share of a sixth straight VOL championship. The win was extra special for Oakdale’s Trent Merzon, who became the winningest coach in school history.

In other Week 9 action:
Ripon 48, Orestimba 24 — The Indians punctuated a 10-0 season, the first for the program since 1983, in Newman, but it didn’t come easy. They needed a 27-point burst in the fourth quarter to prevail after trailing 24-21 through three. Anthony Baciocco’s 7-yard run and 40-yard interception return keyed the late barrage. Orestimba standout Steven Machado rambled for 229 yards and two scores.
Ripon Christian 54, Gustine 17 — Coming off a tough loss, RC outgained Gustine 616-284 in a tune-up of its pivotal Week 10 confrontation with Le Grand. Dan Vos was plenty productive for the Knights, completing 9 of 13 passes for 312 yards and four touchdowns. That’s not all — he added a pair of field goals and converted six extra points.
Sierra 46, Lathrop 0 — Jordan Lewis opened the floodgates for Sierra with an 80-yard punt return, and Anthony Cota was in on six different scoring plays — three rushing TDs, one passing, one receiving and a conversion run.
Kimball 55, Weston Ranch 7 — Weston Ranch’s only score came off a defensive turnover, with linebacker Eddie Melero scooping up a fumble and taking it to the house. The offense, meanwhile, sputtered, as Kimball scored off all four of the Cougars’ turnovers and added points with a punt return.
Sonora 61, East Union 27 —
It was somewhat of a breakthrough effort for the Lancers, who finished with 317 yards of offense, had two TD passes from QB Aaron Ramos and 105 yards on 18 rushes from Mark Aguilar. Sonora, however, torched EU for 33 second-quarter points and led 54-13 at halftime.

The last time Manteca played at East Union’s Dino Cunial Field, the Buffaloes had their bid for a perfect season dashed in one of the area’s biggest stunners in recent memory. They made certain not to overlook the Lancers two years later, rolling into the postseason with a commanding 55-0 victory. It was an inauspicious start for Manteca though, as it opened three straight false-start penalties from scrimmage. On Take 4, Eddie Smith raced 77 yards to the end zone. He scored again on defense in the second quarter, returning a fumble 18 yards. Alex Laurel broke two big touchdown runs in the second half, one of them a punt return. Manteca was in full control throughout, outgaining EU 369-89.

In other Week 10 action:
Ripon Christian 35, Le Grand 21 — With a full complement of players available for action, RC pulled off the shocker of the season with its victory over the reigning SL champion. The result forced a three-way share of the title with Waterford. Andrew Brown rushed for 119 yards and two TDs, completed a 58-yard pass and scored on a 95-yard kickoff return.
Sierra 49, Weston Ranch 0 — The Timberwolves didn’t skip a beat after record-breaking rusher Anthony Cota hobbled off the field with an ankle injury early in the second quarter. Jake Pruitt (10-13, 245 yards, 3 TDs; rushing TD) and Jordan Lewis (4 receptions, 125 yards, TD) more than made up for the loss in the passing game.
Kimball 28, Lathrop 20 — The Spartans nearly capped off a season of frustration with a bang but was thwarted by Kimball’s high-powered offense in the end. Lathrop appeared to be on its way to another blowout defeat after falling behind 20-0 in the first quarter. The tough running of Alex Relova (102 yards, TD) and Kevin Rainey (100 yards) along with a valiant effort from the defense gave the Spartans a chance in the second half.


It wasn’t the expected first-round blowout expected of third-seeded Sierra, but it advanced to the quarterfinals of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs with its 28-8 triumph over No. 14 Rosemont. The Wolverines opened with a 12-play, 61-yard scoring drive, but Sierra’s defense, which forced four turnovers, dominated from there. Jordan Lewis jump started Sierra with a 42-yard TD on a punt return, and Anthony Cota (134 yards, TD) became the school’s all-time single-season rusher.

In other Week 11 action:
Ripon 40, Amador 0 — The undefeated Indians erased a 15-year drought of playoff wins with their shutout of Division IV No. 14 seed Amador. Ripon wasn’t particularly sharp, but the defense — led by Josh Clark’s three interceptions — did its job. Anthony Baciocco racked up 101 yards of offense and three TDs, while Jake McCreath bulled his way to 124 yards and two scores.

Inderkum 30, Manteca 21 —
Costly mistakes and the big-play ability of No. 6 Inderkum did in the upset-minded Buffaloes in the Division III bracket. Eddie Smith grinded out 118 yards and a TD in his final game for Manteca, while Inderkum QB CJ Stewart recorded 189 yards and three TDs on 8-of-12 passing.
Ripon Christian 42, Elliot Christian 22 —
Hosting its first-round Division VI contest at Modesto Christian, Ripon Christian wasn’t full comfortable until QB/LB Dan Vos returned an interception 84 yards early in the fourth quarter to give the Knight s 35-15 lead. He wound up tossing three TDs, completing a conversion pass and nailing 3 of 4 PATs.

The football season came to an end on a rainy night for the three remaining teams alive in the playoffs. The center of attention was a regional showdown between small-school powerhouse Central Catholic, the No. 6 seed in the SJS Division IV bracket, and the undefeated third seed, Ripon. While the Indians had home-field advantage on their side, CC was the clear favorite. That was validated in the final score, a 40-21 win for the Raiders, but no other team tested them as well as Ripon did for the entire postseason. Ripon quickly climbed back from a 17-0 deficit and scored 21 straight points to take an eye-opening lead into the intermission. Ultimately, six turnovers and the supremely talented Raiders were too much to overcome. Ray Lomas IV (152 yards, TD) and Rey Vega (110 yards, 3 TDs) went on to lead CC to SJS, NorCal and State Bowl championships.

In other Week 12 action:
Inderkum 69, Sierra 48 — Inderkum’s powerful wing-T attack slashed Sierra’s defense for 509 rushing yards with three different ball carriers each contributing more than 130 in the Division III quarterfinal. Sierra coughed up four turnovers, and star RB Anthony Cota (97 yards, 2 TDs) was held in check for the most part. He did complete two TD passes that kept Sierra within reach in the third quarter.
Foresthill 32, Ripon Christian 23 — Despite venturing deep into Placer County to face the top-seeded team in Division VI, many felt the Knights had a good chance to return home with a ticket to their first-ever championship-round appearance. Their chances took a major hit when featured back Andrew Brown did not return from an injury after getting hurt on his second carry of the game. Foresthill capitalized by scoring 32 straight points. Ripon Christian, to its credit, made a game of it with a comeback charge spearheaded by QB Dan Vos and Clayton Blankers.

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