A transfer from Lathrop, Raylan Carter wasn’t cleared for eligibility by the Sac-Joaquin Section until Thursday — the day before East Union’s season opener against Ceres at Dino Cunial Field.
“I wasn’t supposed to play this week since I just got cleared a day ago,” he said. “I wasn’t a starter, so I had to prove to myself what I can do.”
The nimble wingback proved plenty on his few touches.
Carter provided the lightning quick outside speed to complement East Union’s powerful inside runners, gashing the Bulldogs for 271 yards and four touchdowns in the 47-14 victory to the delight of the rabid Red Sea cheering section.
And he did all that on just six carries.
His first two went for 64- and 63-yard touchdown runs, highlighting a near-perfect start for East Union. The Lancers were well ahead 26-0 with still 10:29 to go following Carter’s second TD scamper.
He was just getting started.
In the third, he added a 52-yard scoring scamper and ended his breakout performance with an explosive 76-yard run in the fourth, dashing any hope of a crazy comeback from the Bulldogs (1-1).
“Once I get the ball and hit the corner it’s going to the house,” Carter said. “The line did a good job of opening up the holes for me, so I just want to give thanks to those guys.”
The dominant offensive line, anchored by returning All-Valley Oak League second-team selections Jaysen Reindel and Nick Sims, paved the way for East Union rushers, who accumulated 504 yards. Isaiah Sholund (10 rushes, 101 yards, two TDs), Alex Alexander (four rushes, 40 yards) and Alex Kukor (four rushes, 32 yards) softened up the Ceres defense with tough running between the tackles, setting up Carter’s big runs.
“He gave us that dynamite,” East Union coach Willie Herrera said of Carter. “We have some thumpers in our offense and we just wait for the home run hitter. And he hit a couple of home runs today.”
JoJo Espinosa also contributed to the ground attack in his varsity debut as East Union’s quarterback, capping the final score with a 15-yard run with 2:47 remaining. He finished with 43 yards on 11 carries and was 7-of-12 passing for 85 yards and an interception.
Espinosa also lost a fumble near midfield, allowing Ceres to get on the board late in the first half.
“He had some positives and some negatives, but what I’m most impressed with is he took the coaching,” Herrera said. “We just had to slow it down a little bit and bring it back together, and I know that he’ll continue to get better every week. Super proud of him.”
Dalton Durosette (13 of 27, 147 yards) engineered Ceres’ 13-play scoring drive that ended with his 14-yard completion to Josh Gonzales, closing Ceres in 26-7 with 44.4 seconds to go in the opening half. The impressive 6-foot-3, 213-pound sophomore later scored on a 63-yard run.
“That kid has a bright future and is a class act, too,” Herrera said. “They’re set at that spot for the next three years, for sure.”
Herrera’s banged-up defense did well to limit Durossette and the Bulldogs, who torched Weston Ranch for 522 yards in their 48-42 zero-week win.
The Lancers started three reserves on defense, two of them first-year football players, and moved lineman Andrew Mount to outside linebacker. Ceres wingback Andrew Gibson was held to minus 3 rushing yards on seven carries after racking up 208 yards and three TDs against Weston Ranch.
Alexander recovered a fumble and nearly came up with a pick-six in the fourth quarter. Mount and Reindel each contributed a sack, while cornerback MaeMae Beerman broke up three passes and had a tackle for a loss.
“We have been preaching the next-man-up thing and these guys had to step up,” Herrera said. “I am so excited for how they played.”