East Union (1-1) caps its nonleague schedule this Friday at Dino Cunial Field where it will face its stiffest test so far in Modesto Christian (2-1).
Modesto Christian has one of the smallest enrollments in the Sac-Joaquin Section but is never short on talent. The Crusaders, all 20 of them, proved as much this past Friday with an impressive 51-15 trouncing of Mother Lode League powerhouse Calaveras. Last year, MC defeated East Union 31-6 en route to a third-place finish in the competitive Trans-Valley League and a SJS Division IV playoff berth.
Modesto Christian appears to be a tick better despite its lack of depth. Before its surprising blowout of Calaveras, MC blasted Chowchilla 50-0 and staged a second-half comeback that fell short in a 41-28 loss to Cardinal Newman of Santa Rosa, one of Northern California’s top small-school programs.
Andre Edwards, a stout 5-foot-9, 180-pound halfback/defensive back, is the heart and soul of Modesto Christian. He leads the team with 315 yards (7.3 per carry) and four touchdowns. Defensively he has a team-high four sacks.
Anthony Brooks is a dual-threat quarterback who will also garner attention from the East Union defense. So far, he has thrown for 382 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions while rushing for 233 yards and three scores. Brooks also has three picks on defense and is a threat as a special teams returner.
East Union has a chance to continue building momentum going into its Valley Oak League opener with defending champion Oakdale. Like its upcoming opponent, EU is fresh off landslide victory — 63-14 over Orestimba — that has turned some heads.
Victor Lopez has been the Lancers’ horse. He has grinded out 285 rushing yards (9.8 per carry) and three touchdowns as the go-to back in the new wing offense, while pacing the defense with 12 tackles, a sack and a pick-six.
Also on Friday:
• Ripon Christian (1-1) will have its “home” opener at Modesto Christian, where it faces Big Valley Christian. The Knights usually host at Ripon High’s Stouffer field, but their neighbors are playing their homecoming that night.
Ripon Christian looks to bounce back from a 56-26 loss to Ripon in its final nonleague contest, and recent history indicates that it should. The Lions (1-2) of Modesto were, after all, trounced by RC 47-0 last year.
They will provide RC a good gauge with the conference schedule looming, as Southern League rivals Delhi (48-18) and Waterford (18-0) defeated Big Valley the past two weeks. David Barton (294 rushing yards, 4 total TDs) is the team’s top player
• Weston Ranch (0-2) is proving to be much improved from 2012 but with no wins to show for it. The Cougars’ last chance to do so before the grueling VOL season kicks off comes Friday at home against Bear Creek.
The Bruins (1-2) are no pushover, as their two losses have come against undefeated teams. Last week they lost 15-12 to Gregori. Joel Chavez scored all of their points with a 2-yard rush, point-after kick and 23-yard field goal.
Bear Creek opened with a 14-0 defeat to Tokay, the same team that drubbed Weston Ranch by a 37-8 margin a week ago.
• Both Manteca (2-1) and Sierra (2-1) are idle with their nonleague schedules complete.
Manteca has an extra week to prepare for its much-anticipated VOL opener with visiting Sonora on Sept. 27. It will be the Buffaloes’ final VOL showdown with Sonora, which moves into the MLL next year. Sierra, meanwhile, hosts Kimball.