It’s the calm before the storm that is the Valley Oak League football season.
With most area teams gearing up for their league openers, three squads will be in action Friday with East Union and Lathrop both hitting the road for their final tune-ups for the VOL. Meanwhile, Trans-Valley League contender Ripon hosts Grace Davis of Modesto for homecoming.
East Union is looking to wrap-up a third straight 3-0 pre-league record and has a good opportunity to do so against West (1-2), which knocked off Tracy rival Kimball 20-10 last week to end a 14-game losing streak.
West outgained Kimball, one of EU’s VOL rivals, 202-167 in offensive yardage and was led by fullback Ruben Murillo’s 109 yards on 26 carries. He also scored a touchdown. Quarterback ran Yannick Reffell ran for a TD and threw for another, the latter of which capped a 15-play, 82-yard drive.
It was a big turnaround for the Wolf Pack from the week prior, when it surrendered 341 rushing yards in a 31-0 loss to Enochs. West also has a 33-16 loss to Lathrop.
East Union dominated the Wolf Pack 49-14 last season and outscored its first two opponents, Ceres and Johansen, by a combined 95-20 score.
Lathrop (1-1) is looking to bounce back from its 35-13 road loss to Trans-Valley League champion Hilmar. It certainly doesn’t get any easier for the Spartans at Cosumnes Oaks High in Elk Grove, where they’ll take on Franklin (2-0) of the powerhouse Delta League.
Last year’s showdown in Lathrop proved to be more competitive than many expected, with the Wildcats escaping with a 38-32 win.
Franklin returns much of its talent and is ranked No. 10 in the Sacramento Bee’s top 20. Leading the way is sophomore quarterback Brandon Rundgren (11 of 18, 175 yards, two TDs) and senior running back Daniel Ross, who racked up 204 yards and three scores in the Wildcats’ 53-13 shelling of Laguna Creek last week.
With two nonleague contests remaining, Ripon (2-1) can secure a winning record heading into the TVL if it gets past much-improved Grace Davis (2-1). The Spartans, coming off a 35-28 loss to Central Valley, have been more prolific offensively after going 2-8 in 2016, averaging 39.7 points so far. They absorbed a 34-7 beatdown from Ripon a year ago.
The Indians are encouraged despite a 48-33 loss to Mother Lode League champion Sonora last Friday. Trailing 35-6 in the third quarter, they made things interesting behind breakout efforts from junior QB Ryan Daggett (302 yards, four TDs) and Roland Davis (137 receiving yards, two TDs).
Ripon wraps up its pre-league schedule with North Section juggernaut Sutter.