STOCKTON — The Weston Ranch High Cougars christened their grand re-opening of their stadium Friday with an 18-0 non-league victory over Franklin.
"This was our win," said junior running back Aaron Vickers, who had the honors of scoring the first-ever touchdown in the newly remodeled digs.
That occurred late in the opening quarter following a rough start marred by penalties by both teams.
Vickers fielded the punt, darting past Yellowjacket coverage while using his blockers before finding daylight. His electrifying return covered 79 yards.
"It was amazing," he later said, throwing compliments to his teammates.
Weston Ranch (1-1) was playing just its second game in three weeks. Indicative of that was the penalty-laden sluggish start.
The Cougars soon relied on their speed and power as provided Vickers and Marcel Phillips, who scored twice during the game.
Their defense throughout the evening was bend but don't break.
"It was good to come away with the shutout," said Sal Reyes, who also celebrated his first win as Weston Ranch head coach.
His team managed to drive to the Franklin 21 on its opening possession only to be denied.
The Yellowjackets (0-3) couldn't muster up too much on their first drive and punted the ball away to Vickers, who gave his team a 6-0 late in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Weston Ranch capitalized on three big penalties by Franklin coupled with quarterback Atlantis Gholston hitting Eric Mungarro on a 31-yard pass play to the Franklin 3. From there, Phillips capped the 75-yard drive with a touchdown.
The Cougars, who failed to convert on their extra point tries, came into the half with a 12-0 lead.
The Yellowjackets put together a time-consuming drive that took up most of the third quarter only to come away empty handed.
Weston Ranch took over from the Franklin 21. Vickers picked up 20 yards and Phillips powered his way for 19 more.
Vickers had another big run featuring his hurdling ability called back by a penalty — both teams racked up a total over 200 yards in yellow flags.
Phillips' second score at the 5:10 mark of the fourth quarter all but secured the win.
"It was a memorable evening," Reyes said. "We'll cherish this win tonight and we'll be ready get back to work and prepare for next week."
Franklin 0 0 0 0 — 0
W. Ranch 6 6 0 6 — 18
W—Aaron Vickers 79 punt return (run failed), 1:32
W—Marcel Phillips 3 run (kick failed), 7:37
W—Phillips 2 run (pass failed), 5:10