Mike James isn't buying the hype. Jeff Harbison is.
After putting together a weak performance over the first two quarters of their Valley Oak League football opener, the Sierra Timberwolves sophomores fought back, only to make it interesting in a 40-22 loss to Oakdale High Friday at Sierra High.
MANTECA – Late in the second quarter Thursday Matt Wilkerson got a bit more than the 8 yards he needed for a first down when he lumbered 36 yards for a touchdown to give the Manteca freshmen the lead for good in a 22-8 Valley Oak League football victory over Kimball at Guss Schmiedt Field.
The beginning of the end started when the Oakdale Mustangs opened the second half at their own 10-yard line and methodically chewed up nearly the entire third quarter, marching 90 yards for an eventual A.C. Brown touchdown that stripped Sierra High of a chance at victory in a 33-15 defeat Friday at Daniel Teicheira Memorial Stadium.
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.
So, how does Sierra replace one of the Sac-Joaquin Section's most prolific passers of 2013?
Keith Jackson is picking up where he left off last fall, when he rallied generations of Manteca High alumni to cheer the Buffaloes' historic postseason run.
Second-year Lathrop coach Steven Wichman has a better idea of what his team can do with pads on this time around.
The Sac-Joaquin Section's preseason Dead Period doesn't begin until Monday.
Weston Ranch's football players weren't the only ones hard at work this offseason.
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