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WEEK 8 OUTLOOK

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POSTED October 29, 2009 1:57 a.m.
Valley Oak League
Manteca (3-1, 5-2) at Oakdale (4-0, 7-0)

• Kickoff: Friday, 7:15 p.m.
• Last year: 31-14, Oakdale.
• Key matchup: Manteca passing game vs. Oakdale defense. Manteca QB Matt Barber — 22-of-30 for 257 yards and four TDs over the past two weeks — has hit his stride after a slow start to the season. Continuing his efficient play Friday would help take pressure off RB Marquis Miller. Oakdale’s physical defense yields a shade under 11 ppg and has given up more than 14 just once.
• Closer look: There is no secret to what Oakdale likes to do, and it is incredibly efficient at it. Manteca is solid at stuffing the run but has been prone to giving up big plays to top backs, and Oakdale’s Devin Brooks and fullback Tim House are top backs. The Mustangs haven’t had to throw much in league so far, but that hasn’t stopped them from scoring at least 55 points over their last three games. Manteca can force a four-way tie for the league lead with a victory.

Ceres (0-4, 0-7) at Sierra (3-1, 6-1)

• Kickoff: Friday, 7 p.m.
• Last year: 21-14, Sierra.
• Key matchup: Ceres LB Hadon Lopez vs. Sierra RB Jarrod Daniels. Lopez, a three-year varsity junior and one of the league’s top LBs, goes head to head with one of the top rushers. Daniels, though, is coming off his worst performance (15 carries, 65 yards) of the season in a 17-7 loss at Sonora.
• Closer look: Ceres has had it rough so far in 2009 after being predicted to contend for a playoff spot. Standout QB Josh Edwards is out for the season with a knee injury, and Sierra could be without its starting signal caller, Jonathan Davis (ankle), for a second straight week. The Timberwolves should win big on Homecoming night but can’t afford anymore key injuries with Oakdale next.

Sonora (3-1, 6-1) at East Union (1-3, 3-4)

• Kickoff: Friday, 7:15 p.m.
• Last year: 28-0, Sonora.
• Key matchup: East Union defense vs. Sonora RB Dan Link. It will take a team effort to stop the Wildcats’ featured back, who leads VOL rushers with 1,036 yards. Brendon Kamler and QB Ryan Emerald are also threats in Sonora’s triple-option attack, so the Lancers will need to be disciplined.
• Closer look: Sonora is coming off its biggest win of the season against previously undefeated Sierra a week after getting blown out at Manteca for its first loss. East Union, meanwhile, picked up its first VOL win in come-from-behind fashion and in overtime on the road against Central Valley. Teejay Gordon has filled in nicely for starting QB Dennis Johnson, providing EU a dual threat as a passer and a rusher. Sonora’s defense held Sierra to just seven points last week and has given up over 20 just once.

Weston Ranch (2-2, 3-4) at Central Valley (0-4, 2-5)

• Kickoff: Friday, 7:15 p.m.
• Last year: 38-14, Central Valley.
• Key matchup: Weston Ranch LBs vs. Central Valley RB Vince Lopez. Lopez will be amped up after missing last week’s Homecoming game against East Union. Weston Ranch gave up 415 rushing yards to first-place Oakdale last week, and Lopez is a big play waiting to happen — even as a pass catcher out of the backfield.
• Closer look: Weston Ranch needs to win out for a possible at-large playoff berth, but it closes the regular season with three road contests at Central Valley, Sonora and Sierra. Central Valley and Ceres remain as the VOL’s only winless teams, and the former has dropped five straight. Allen Embry has excelled since being named Weston Ranch’s starting QB in Week 5 and will need to continue to do so Friday to keep the Cougars’ postseason hopes alive.

Trans Valley League
Ripon (1-1, 5-2) at Ripon Christian (1-1, 3-4)

• Kickoff: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
• Last year: 38-13, Ripon.
• Key matchup: Ripon RB/LB Nick Curtice vs. Ripon Christian RB/LB Josiah Neeley. The town’s best two-way players will get a chance to meet on both sides of scrimmage. They are both tough runners and sure tacklers. Neeley leads the area with 101 tackles.
• Closer look: The Ripon Bowl Rivalry Trophy has been in Ripon High’s possession since the crosstown matchup’s inaugural meeting in 2006. Every game was a blowout, with the Indians winning by an average margin of 35 points. Ripon Christian came from behind and scored 21 points in the fourth quarter for its first TVL win last week against Riverbank. Ripon can qualify for the postseason with wins over Ripon Christian and Riverbank over the next two weeks and is favored to do so. Ripon Christian will be the “home” team at Ripon’s Stouffer Field.

 
Non-league
Bradshaw Christian (6-1) at Lathrop (0-7)
• Kickoff: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
• Last year: N/A
• Key matchup: Bradshaw Christian RBs vs. Lathrop defense. Brady Dragmire averages close to 14 yards per carry and has 1,136 total and 15 TDs. Returning standout Tyler Takahashi isn’t too far behind with 960 yards and 13 scores.
• Closer look: Bradshaw Christian claimed the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VII title last year and appears to be a favorite to repeat having won six straight in convincing fashion. Lathrop, which lost to Soledad 28-14 last week, did well against another small-school powerhouse in Week 4, nearly beating Big Valley Christian in a 22-13 loss. Lathrop’s defense will be put to the test against an offense that has amassed 3,332 yards on the ground. 
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