Homecoming is often a time for celebration.
The Manteca Buffaloes could not have drawn up a more perfect opening to the Valley Oak League season, blasting the Kimball Jaguars 62-0 in their first-ever VOL contest Friday at Kimball High.
RIPON - Hilmar High's grand return to the Trans Valley League wasn't so grand.
LE GRAND – Ripon Christian received a rude Southern League welcome from the host Le Grand Bulldogs on Friday.
Over the past decade, there has been one constant amongst the elite teams in the Valley Oak League and that's the fact that to become the champion, one usually has to beat the champion. In Friday's VOL opener for Sierra and Oakdale highs, that hurdle will be cleared immediately by the winning squad.
Oakdale and Sierra are the defending co-champions of the Valley Oak League.
For two programs that struggled mightily throughout the 2009 season, that is not the case thus far this campaign. Lathrop High is enjoying back-to-back victories for the first time in school history and the East Union Lancers have not been 3-0 since Bill Clinton was president.
Graduation turnover along with some injuries to key players has suddenly made the always-competitive Trans Valley League race a wide-open one - for second place.
WESTON RANCH - The Cougars (2-1) finally put together a solid overall effort at Podesto Field.
Pigs are not flying and the cows are nowhere near home.
LATHROP - With a solid lead in the fourth quarter, it looked like Lathrop High was well on its way to a second straight victory.
MODESTO – After turning a two-touchdown deficit into a one-point lead late in the fourth quarter, Manteca High senior Michael Timmons intercepted Christian Kahler's pass at midfield, prefacing Manteca's final defensive stand in the Buffaloes' second consecutive come-from-behind victory, 34-33 over Enochs, at Johansen High.
Early mistakes and all-around youth hurt Ripon High in its non-league finale against Argonaut in Jackson Friday.
STOCKTON - In the final seconds of Friday's non-league game at Podesto Field, Weston Ranch High was hoping for overtime.
There is a lot riding on East Union High's final non-league contest Friday against Ceres, but head coach Mike James feels no need to place additional emphasis on this one.
Zak Burden made big plays with his arms and legs, and on the game's final sequence it was he who fittingly punctuated No. 10 Rio Linda's 49-44 upset of No. 2 Sierra in Friday's Sac-Joaquin Section Division III quarterfinal at Daniel Teicheira Memorial Stadium.
SACRAMENTO -The better athletes won out on this day.
Down to their final play, Dakarai Charles threw toward the corner of the end zone with confidence.
Fade to black.
A year ago, Manteca put an emphatic stamp on its fourth Sac-Joaquin Section championship with a runaway victory over a first-time finalist.
Ripon Christian is well aware of what it's up against tonight.
Sophomores have long been a part of Sierra's winning formula this season, but when Brandon Arreola burst around the corner and into the end zone this was something new.
Behind the goal posts, shagging footballs blasted through the uprights during warm-ups, Sierra's Marissa LaQuaglia makes no illusions about her role on Friday nights.
Ripon Christian appeared to have an Andrew Brown clone in the form of junior tail back Brian Sytsma.
The third time was the charm for Eric Reis and his Manteca High football team.
Confetti wafted in the air above the home bleachers and players were met with hugs and high-fives at every turn.
GARDEN VALLEY – The Ripon Christian Knights relied on a strong second-half surge to roll past Golden Sierra in Friday's Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI playoff opener.
It was the kind of moment that can take the air out of a stadium.
By now, the Sac-Joaquin Section football playoff brackets have been dissected and analyzed by anyone with a rooting interest or a job to do.
Eric Reis has been known to share stories of Manteca High's grid-iron glory of years past with his players.