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.
If the Manteca Buffalos are going to open the Valley Oak League season with an unblemished 3-0 mark they are going to have to stop a talented and proven Enochs High offensive unit.
Jesse Rodriguez has won many games as a head coach in the East Bay. His first varsity victory as Lathrop High's head coach ranks highly on his list.
With the first few weeks of his senior season in the bag, Manteca High's football squad is off to a solid 2-0 start, and the team is rejoicing in a big decision its leading rusher made after his freshman season at Escalon High.
Since the start of Trans Valley League play, the Ripon High Indians have elevated their play.
Manteca showed no ill effects from a short week and its second loss of the season in Friday's 55-7 clobbering of Kimball at Don Nicholson Stadium in Tracy.
In nearly a decade at his post, Sierra head coach Jeff Harbison has rarely dipped into his lower-levels for talent.
Sierra hasn't had a losing record since 2005, Jeff Harbison's first year as the school's head football coach, and advanced to the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs in five of the last six years.
It might be the best matchup no one's talking about, and that's OK with East Union coach Willie Herrera.
LATHROP – On Friday, there wasn't much that went right for the Lathrop football team and its daring quarterback, Diego Chavez
Ripon Christian was shut out in the second halves of its first two Southern League games - a closer-than-it-needed-to-be 21-20 win over Orestimba followed by a 15-14 heartbreaker at Le Grand.
SANTA CLARA – Luis Reyes saw a loose ball bouncing around and knew that he had to make a play.
Jacob Peterson scored two touchdowns for the Sierra freshmen in a 20-6 win over visiting Lathrop on Thursday in Valley Oak League action at Daniel Teicheira Memorial Stadium.
Lathrop held Sierra scoreless until the fourth quarter Friday in a 32-7 win over the Timberwolves in Valley Oak League sophomore action at Bennie Gatto Field.
RIPON - To Ripon, the 2014 season started for real on Friday night.
LATHROP – Statistically, it might have been Devin Nunez's worst performance under center for Sierra.
MODESTO – East Union, meet Justin Rice.
STOCKTON – A time-consuming drive late in the game Friday helped the Weston Ranch High Cougars slip past visiting Kimball, 18-14.
RIPON – Billy Marr engineered two scoring drives in the final three minutes as Ripon Christian completed a come-from-behind victory on Friday evening.