STOCKTON — Jared Rice wasted little time in making an impact in Friday’s Valley Oak League.
The Central Catholic all-around player took the opening kickoff and raced 85 yards for a touchdown at Weston Ranch.
In the end, Rice finished with four touchdowns, including one on an interception and another two on the ground.
The early lead by the Raiders was too much for the Cougars to overcome.
Weston Ranch (0-1 VOL, 3-1) fell, 45-7.
“We were in it (in the first half),” said Cougars coach Seth Davis, who was ejected from the game shortly before the half.
Down 17-0, he was upset about a holding penalty that erased Elijah Harper’s 33-yard scoring pass from Terry Snipes.
“High school football games are about momentum,” Davis said. “Our defense held Central Catholic to three points in the first half.”
He knew the Raiders (1-0 VOL, 2-2) would be a tall order entering the game.
“They’re four-time state champions and they’re disciplined in the way they play,” Davis added.
Shortly after the opening score, the Cougars were pinned down deep in their territory and were forced to punt.
Central took advantage of the short field with kicker Bryce Wade drilling a 26-yard field goal.
The Raiders upped their lead on Rice’s touchdown interception in the second quarter.
In the second half, Central put the game away by running the ball. Rice and his backfield mate Montrell Blanks scored twice.
James Walker provided one of the few highlights for the Cougars — the other two included Cori Floyd picking 62 yards off a fake punt play and Snipes recovering a botched punt by the Raiders at midfield — by taking a fourth quarter kickoff, changing directions and finding an open lane on the 99-yard return for the score.
“I saw the opening (after making his cut),” said Walker, who had an 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown earlier this season at Bear Creek.
Weston Ranch will have another tough challenge ahead next week at Manteca.
“We’ll need to play better overall as a team,” Walker said.