Lathrop’s grand entrance into the varsity ranks wasn’t so grand. Not for the Spartans, anyway. Sierra, where many Spartans played prior to their school opening, put up 35 unanswered points while star RB Jarrod Daniels had 138 yards and four TDs on just seven carries — all in the first quarter. It was also Lathrop’s first varsity home game, which ended in a 55-0 loss.
Other Week 1 highlights:
• QB Dennis Johnson racked up 275 yards and four TD strikes on 22-32 passing, but it wasn’t enough in East Union’s 41-35 loss to visiting Beyer. The two teams combined for 41 points in the fourth quarter alone. T.J. Brown caught seven passes for 131 yards and a TD.
• Manteca, highlighted by Reggie Bell’s late 90-yard TD on a punt return, overcame spotty play to beat Soquel 23-17 in Santa Cruz. RB Marquis Miller hammered Soquel’s defense for 149 yards and a score.
• Weston Ranch dug itself a four-score hole before Jason Steele scored on a 72-yard kickoff return in a 38-12 loss at Calaveras.
• Multi-position player Alex Gustin rushed for 124 yards and two TDs while recovering a fumble on defense to help set the tone for Ripon’s season in a 25-21 road win at Linden. Ripon overcame youthful mistakes and scored 12 unanswered points in the fourth to win.
• Ripon Christian pounded visiting Delhi 49-0 with QB Tyler Voogd throwing for 105 yards and rushing for 103 and two scores.
After dropping its first-ever varsity contest, Lathrop was in position to post win No. 1. But host Weston Ranch was able to break the 7-7 third-quarter tie with interception returns for TDs from Deon Eley and Anthony Henderson. Eley put the finishing touches on the 22-7 Weston Ranch win with a 6-yard TD run.
Other Week 2 highlights:
• East Union won its first game, 32-15 at Bear Creek, since 2007. QB Dennis Johnson torched the Bruins, completing 12 of 17 passes for 189 yards and two TDs. He even rushed for 52 yards and two TDs.
• Sierra escaped Livermore with its biggest win of the non-league season, 27-26 against Granada. QB Jonathan Davis put up staggering numbers (20 rushes, 114 yards; 210 yards, three TDs on 18-of-22 passing), while the Sierra defense held highly-regarded George Atkinson III to just 46 rushing yards.
• Marquis Miller grinded out 131 yards and a score for Manteca, but the standout RB was outdone by his cousin, Depray Celestine and the Tracy Bulldogs in a 35-20 loss. The speedy Celestine scored on a 35-yard fake punt with 5 minutes left to put Manteca away.
• Ripon overcame a 15-0 deficit to beat visiting Summerville, 32-23. QB Alex Gustin sealed the win with a long touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
• Tyler Voogd’s 45-yard touchdown pass to Isaac Norman tied the game at 7 in the first quarter of Ripon Christian’s non-league contest at Bradshaw Christian, but the highlights ended there for the Knights. Bradshaw ended up winning the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI playoff championship.
Manteca High celebrated the 50-year anniversary of the dedication of Guss Schmiedt Field with a 55-0 thrashing of Modesto-based Enochs. Reggie Bell hauled in two touchdown passes and scored another on a 50-yard punt return. Marquis Miller added 90 rushing yards and two scores to the romp.
Other Week 3 highlights:
• East Union led 27-0 at halftime and never looked back in a 37-7 romp over visiting Lathrop. TeeJay Gordon ran for 100 yards even with two TDs, and Dennis Johnson threw for 179 yards and two TDs on 13 of 17 passing.
• Facing a team ravaged by early-season injuries, Sierra still had trouble doing away with Patterson in a 17-6 win at home. RB Jarrod Daniels did his part, scampering for 165 yards and two TDs on 25 carries.
• Weston Ranch did well to hang tough with Tokay of Lodi, battling the Tigers to a scoreless tie by halftime. But Tokay turned it on in the second half to win, 24-0. Weston Ranch gave up 444 yards to its own 129.
• In a battle of top-notch defenses, it was Ripon’s that got worn down by Argonaut’s smashmouth run game in a 24-0 loss. Ripon, which trailed 3-0 at half, was limited to three first downs and 19 yards of total offense while committing four turnovers.
• Ripon Christian put 29 unanswered points through three quarters before Waterford finally got on board, and the Knights coasted to a 43-12 victory behind Isaac Norman’s 114 rushing yard and two TDs. QB Tyler Voogd and Nathan Hidalgo added two rushing touchdowns apiece.
Sierra jumped all over East Union with 23 unanswered points in the first quarter en route to a 46-12 win to open Valley Oak League action. Jarrod Daniels rushed for 136 yards and four TDs. Anthony Hall’s 26-yard field goal and 38-yard interception return early in the third helped end EU’s hopes of coming back.
Other Week 4 highlights:
• Manteca pitched its second straight shutout with a 44-0 drubbing of Weston Ranch. Marquis Miller finished 4 yards shy of the century mark while recording three TD scampers, and reserve RB Robert Ladiges ripped off a 90-yard TD run early in the second quarter.
• For the second time in three weeks, Lathrop came oh so close to notching the program’s first-ever varsity win in a heartbreaking 22-13 loss to Big Valley Christian. The Spartans led 13-8 in the fourth quarter and was in position to finish off Big Valley, but a turnover in the red zone followed by a 73-yard TD pass doomed them. Sophomore Xavier Walden rushed for 154 yards and a TD on 16 touches.
• Ripon’s ground attack and defense dominated Bret Harte in a 26-14 victory. Fullback Nick Curtice did most of the damage, pounding out 183 yards and two TDs on 26 tries. The Indians totaled 282 yards rushing.
• Ripon Christian had trouble slowing down Denair’s passing game, which piled up 301 of the team’s 489 yards in a 34-27 loss for the Knights. Ripon Christian’s balanced attack was led by QB Tyler Voogd’s 145 yards and two TDs on 10 of 16 passing. Josiah Neeley rushed for 100 yards and a TD.
Sierra scored the first 23 points and held on to defeat intracity foe Manteca 23-15 in a rivalry game that has grown more intense over the past three seasons. Sierra, 5-0 at this point, kept Manteca off balanced with the running of Jarrod Daniels (110 yards, two TDs), passing of Jonathan Davis (17-22, 156 yards, TD) and catching of Anthony Hall (10 receptions, 98 yards, TD). Manteca still leads the all-time series, 10-5.
Other Week 5 highlights:
• Weston Ranch tweaked its offense, and it paid dividends in its 27-7 homecoming stunner over East Union. The Cougars scored two of their TDs on special teams: Melvin Allen returned a blocked punt 39 yards in the first, and Deon Eley returned a punt 60 yards. Eley later capped the final score with an electric 98-yard interception return.
• Down 10-0 at halftime, Ripon steeled its mettle to mount a thrilling 14-10 comeback victory over perennial powerhouse Calaveras at home. Hart Yoshida got the Indians on board with a 6-yard fumble return, and Alex Gustin’s 6-yard strike to Jake Carlson with 2:47 left was the game-winner.
• In a preview of future Southern League contests to come, Turlock Christian upended Ripon Christian with a 27-21 come-from-behind win after falling behind 14-0 in the opening half. Isaac Norman scored three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving) for the Knights.
• Lathrop lost 35-14 to Bella Vista on the road but won a moral victory by outscoring the Broncos 14-3 in the second half. Elijah Cash’s 32-yard pass and Xavier Walden’s 2-yard run represented the Spartans’ only scores.
Manteca shook off the cobwebs of its Week 5 loss to Sierra and took it out on previously undefeated Sonora, 37-13. The Buffaloes, who staked a 34-7 lead early in the third, were led QB Matt Barber’s early onslaught (10-12 passing, 156 yards, three TDs) and was complemented by the physical running of Marquis Miller (160 yards, two TDs).
Other Week 6 highlights:
• Filling in for injured QB Dennis Johnson, usual starting RB TeeJay Gordon did what he could under center in a 55-14 loss to defending VOL champion Oakdale. The Mustangs were ahead 44-0 going into the fourth quarter and totaled 390 yards on the ground.
• Standout RB Jarrod Daniels set Sierra’s single-game rushing record with 291 yards in a 49-20 blowout of Central Valley. Daniels’ five TDs also tied Daniel Teicheira’s single-game scoring record.
• Weston Ranch spoiled Ceres’ homecoming festivities in a big way, busting out to a 21-0 first-quarter lead before cruising, 35-15. Deon Eley rushed for 80 yards and two TDs, while Jason Steele racked up three interceptions.
• Nick Curtice accounted for 155 of Ripon’s 383 rushing yards and twice bruised his way into the end zone to lead the Indians’ 32-13 win at Hughson. Louie Mejia also keyed the victory with 96 rushing yards, two converted field goals and three extra-point kicks.
• Escalon came, saw and conquered outmatched, outsized and outnumbered Ripon Christian by a score of 63-0.
Ripon’s stout defense managed to hold Modesto Christian to well under its per-game scoring average of 52.3 points, but it was not enough in a 21-13 loss. Ripon RB Nick Curtice rushed for 66 yards, caught for 63 and was a part of the defense that held all-everything MC quarterback Isaiah Burse in check. MC would end up winning the TVL, Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV and CIF State Bowl small-schools titles.
Other Week 7 highlights:
• East Union rallied from a 14-point deficit and pulled off a 27-21 thriller in overtime on Central Valley’s homecoming night, snapping an 11-game league losing streak in the process. TeeJay Gordon passed for 273 yards and a TD and ran in three more scores, including the game-winner.
• Reggie Bell returned punts from 60 and 62 yards out for touchdowns to highlight Manteca’s 41-0 shutout of Ceres.
• Sierra had never won a varsity game on Sonora’s Dunlavy Field, and that streak continued in a 17-7 loss — the Timberwolves’ first of the season. QB Jonathan Davis was unavailable because of an ankle injury, and costly penalties further hurt Sierra’s chances.
• Oakdale had five different rushers score at least one TD, and the Mustangs trampled Weston Ranch with 415 yards on the ground in a 56-14 blowout.
• Ripon Christian mounted an incredible fourth-quarter comeback to stun host Riverbank, 28-21. The Knights never led until pouring in 21 unanswered points in the fourth, with Josiah Neeley running in the deciding score from 5 yards out with 1:16 left. RB Isaac Norman contributed three scores: a 60-yard catch and run, a 12-yard pass and a 5-yard run.
• Squaring off with 1-4 Soledad at home, Lathrop missed out on its last best chance to score a victory in 2009, losing 28-14.
Other Week 8 highlights:
• A late defensive stand on fourth down in its own territory followed by a 92-yard scoring drive helped Oakdale beat upset-minded Manteca, 35-23, and preserve its unbeaten record. Matt Burrows (11-of-19, 185 yards, TD; one rushing TD) was brilliant in an emergency role at QB after starter Matt Barber suffered a concussion. Reggie Bell caught eight passes for 124 yards, and Marquis Miller ran for 155 yards on 31 carries. Manteca had more yards (394-364), more first downs (20-15) and won the turnover battle (1-0).
• Jonathan Davis connected with Anthony Hall (nine receptions, 121 yards) for two of his four touchdown passes, as Sierra overcame a slow start and crushed Ceres, 34-0, on homecoming.
• Sonora standout Dan Link needed just seven carries to amass 165 yards and two touchdowns in the Wildcats’ 55-14 win at East Union. T.J. Brown caught seven passes for 162 yards and a TD, as EU relied on its passing game to move upfield, but it was Sonora’s ground game (438 yards) that was in control.
• Weston Ranch could not recover from a bad start in which the Cougars, 35-16 losers at Central Valley, committed three turnovers, punted four times, gained just 6 yards of offense and fell behind 21-0 in the first half.
• Lathrop squared off with the section’s top Division VI squad, Bradshaw Christian, and lost, 49-12.
Other Week 9 highlights:
• East Union scored 29 straight points in the middle quarters to upend host Ceres, 29-12. QB Dennis Johnson passed for a touchdown and scored three more on the ground, while WR/DB T.J. Brown finished with seven receptions, 113 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
• With the toughest part of its regular-season schedule behind it, Manteca rolled past Central Valley 37-7 but needed a 22-0 fourth-quarter spurt to secure the win. Marquis Miller ran for 147 yards and three scores.
• Ripon punched in at least two touchdowns in every quarter while steamrolling Riverbank, 63-0. And it wasn’t just the offense doing the damage, as the Indians scored three times on special teams, and twice off fumble-recovery returns.
• Ripon Christian upset Hughson 21-13 for a second-straight victory. The Huskies had no answers for RC’s explosive Isaac Norman, who rushed for 178 yards, racked up 129 on three receptions and scored all three of the team’s touchdowns.
• Lathrop completed its inaugural varsity season with a 42-13 loss to Sacramento — the sixth playoff qualifier in the Spartans’ nine-game independent schedule. Lathrop put up a good fight early on, but Sac staggered the home team with a 68-yard punt return TD with a second left in the first half to break a 13-13 tie.
Other Week 10 action:
• The Buffaloes of Manteca stampeded their way into the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs with a 69-21 win over East Union in the regular-season finale. Marquis Miller punished EU’s defense, collecting 231 yards and five touchdowns on 16 carries. QB Matt Burrows was also productive in limited action, going 6-for-7 with 224 yards and a TD.
• Ripon fell to traditional rival Escalon 21-6 for the 12th-straight season. The Indians went down with a fight, however, as they were trailed 7-6 by the midway point of the third quarter. It was a matchup between two powerful running games and stout defenses. Ripon was outgained 267-166 on the ground, and most of its yards came from QB Alex Gustin (82, TD) and Nick Curtice (72, TD).
• Ripon Christian was pitted against eventual state small-schools champion Modesto Christian in its final Trans Valley League game, losing, 56-7. Robert Hull led the Knights with 14 tackles. RC moves into the Southern League after four years in the always-tough Trans Valley League.
In other first-round playoff action:
• Sierra had its way with No. 14 Mira Loma, rolling to a 59-6 win. Sierra’s offensive line had one of its most dominant efforts of the year, helping the team pile up 452 rushing yards to Mira Loma’s 93. Jarrod Daniels accounted for 199 of those yards and scored three times. Reserve Aaron Manuta added eight rushes for 103 yards and two TDs. Linebacker Cody Dias had five sacks, including a safety, and recovered a fumble.
• In a rematch of a non-league contest won by Ripon, Summerville got its revenge in a big way in the first round of the SJS Division IV playoffs. The host Bears outplayed Ripon in every way and won 33-0 under wet conditions and on a muddy field. The inclement weather affected both teams, but Ripon coughed up 10 turnovers to Summerville’s four.
On a night in which he became Sierra’s all-time single-season rushing leader, he slid on the 15-yard line on the tail-end of a 25-yard run to run out the clock at the end. Daniels unselfishly passed on scoring his fifth touchdown of the night, “settling” for four to go with the 288 yards on 26 carries.
Sierra’s final drive was set up by Daniels’ interception on the Timberwolf 38 with 1:18 remaining.
Back-up QB Adrian Valencia, filling in for injured starter Jonathan Davis, also had a big night. The 5-foot, 9-inch junior completed just one of his seven passes, but Sierra’s spread offense allows for its signal callers to be a factor in the run game.
Valencia finished with 218 rushing yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.
It was an all-out shootout from the start. The teams combined for 1,068 yards from scrimmage. The Sierra defense fared well even though Benicia QB Andrew McNeese did throw for 297 yards. Benicia’s offense featured two 1,000-yard receivers in Chris Mamon (five receptions, 98 yards, TD) and Cory Fisher (four receptions, 88 yards, rushing TD).
To counter Benicia’s air raid, Sierra moved Daniels and Anthony Hall from safety to cornerback. Hall intercepted two passes and deflected three passes, while strong safety Moses Cordova added two pass deflections, a forced fumble and a recovery.
Sierra’s best varsity football season in school history was capped by a 39-10 loss to the second-seeded Cougars of Fair Oaks, who went on to upset Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III favorite and previously undefeated Inderkum, 16-12, in the championship round.
It didn’t take Del Campo long to get its wake-up call. The visiting Timberwolves shot out to a 7-0 lead on the game’s first play from scrimmage, as star RB Jarrod Daniels juked one tackler and sprinted 65 yards uncontested.
Daniels was responsible for most of Sierra’s offensive production, rushing for 136 of the team’s 151 yards against the section’s No. 3 ranked defense. Two big plays accounted for a chunk of those yardages: Daniels’ touchdown run on the opening play, and his 47-yard scamper on a fake punt that led to Anthony Hall’s 25-yard field goal that kept the T’Wolves in it, 14-10, in the first quarter.
Del Campo, meanwhile, lit up Sierra’s defense for 490 yards. UC Davis-bound Ryan Dimino — who lined up at quarterback and running back — was all that he was hyped up to be and then some. He grinded out 194 yards and four touchdowns on 29 carries. Making matters worse for Sierra, he was also on point through the air, throwing for 106 yards and TD strikes spanning 27 and 41 yards.
And, oh by the way, Dimino had an interception on defense as a linebacker. Eddie Plantaric, a 6-foot-5, 252-pound defensive end who signed with Stanford, contributed a sack for Del Campo.
The 2009 Sierra team stands as the program’s winningest team in its 15-year varsity history at 11-2.