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Stiff challenges await undefeated Manteca, Ripon
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Lineman Elijah Surall tackles Edison Lashawn Jameison during Manteca Highs 16-6 win at Guss Schmiedt Field last Friday. - photo by HIME ROMERO


East Union (0-2) at Ceres (0-3): Someone is coming out of this with their first win of 2011, and it’s hard to make an argument for a team that has scored 14 points vs. 134 allowed in three games. (24-16, East Union)

Manteca (2-0) at Stagg (3-0):
A grand total of 34 points has been allowed in five combined games between these two dominant defenses. Stagg’s offense, featuring two talented WRs, is due to erupt at some point. (21-16, Stagg)

Lathrop (1-1) at Highlands (2-1): The Spartans face another SJS playoff finalist (Division-IV champ Escalon) in Highlands, a D-V squad that is battle-tested and eager to get even after losing this game last year. (25-20, Highlands)

Bear Creek (1-1) at Weston Ranch (1-1): WR has proven to be no pushover in the early going with solid line play and talent at the skill positions. Common opponent Tokay blew out BC and lost to WR. (35-13, Weston Ranch)

Argonaut (2-0) at Ripon (3-0): It’s Argonaut’s mammoth line against Ripon’s diverse skill athletes, and both QBs have been terrific so far. They appear evenly matched on paper, but Ripon has to clean up its mistakes. (33-28, Argonaut).

Ripon Christian (1-1) at Linden (0-2): A solid test for RC as it preps for grueling start to Southern League schedule. Common opponent Ripon had some trouble containing Linden’s run game but limited RC’s attack. (35-28, Linden).

Last week: 4-2 (12-3 overall).

The area’s two remaining undefeated football teams will be put to the test Friday.

Manteca High (2-0) heads to Stagg (3-0) in Stockton as two dominant defenses square off, while Ripon (3-0) plays host to Argonaut (2-0) in a battle of prolific offenses.

Manteca is coming off a hard-fought 16-6 win over Edison, Stagg’s neighboring rival. With size at the line of scrimmage and speed everywhere else, Edison gave Manteca all it could handle. 

Stagg — which is aiming to qualify for the Sac-Joaquin Section Divison-I playoffs for a third straight year — is even better.

The Delta Kings did just enough offensively to beat intracity rivals Chavez 20-14 in Week Zero and Franklin 14-7 in Week 2. In Week 1, they pitched an impressive 14-0 shutout of Modesto, which has boasted high-octane offenses in recent years. Modesto rebounded with a 34-33 victory over Sonora, a contender in the Valley Oak League.

Stagg’s offense has had its struggles but can be explosive.

Manteca coach Eric Reis likes his secondary, which has given up 206 passing yards in two games, but it likely won’t face a receiving corps quite like Stagg’s for the rest of the year.

Quarterback Brian Wood has plenty of targets to choose from, with 6-foot-3 Andre Lindsey (13 receptions, 128 yards, 2 TDs), 6-2 Ryan Wood (11-104-1) and 6-2 Treyvon Manning (6-75-1) at his disposal.

Brian Wood isn’t the most accurate QB (47.5 completion percentage), but is a dual threat. He has thrown for 284 yards and three scores and rushed for 94 and one TD. Maurice Boyd is Stagg’s leading rusher with 202 yards (5.6 per carry).

Stagg relies on speed on defense but does have some brutes up front, including 6-foot, 300-pound sophomore Jeff Washington. Sophomore Jamarius Harris (21 tackles, 4 sacks) and Kevin Tran (3 interceptions) have been its big playmakers out of the defensive backfield, and they will try and slow down Manteca’s vaunted passing attack led by QB Alex Martinez (26 of 36, 477 yards, 3 TDs) and WR Eric Ceja (10-268-2).

Ripon and Argonaut are near mirror images of each other.

Both are strong on the ground, with multiple standout rushers who share the load. Argonaut averages 326 rushing yards, while Ripon checks in with 344.

And they both have junior quarterbacks who give them balance: Kyle Calais (14 of 21, 341 yards, 5 TDs) for Argonaut, and Kyle Wengel (28 of 50, 341 yards, 7 TDs) for Ripon.

The difference is size, which Argonaut has plenty of.

The Mustangs have three linemen who are at least 6 feet tall and weigh in at least 300 pounds, including 6-foot-5 Daniel Lyle. Then there’s BYU commit Austin Hoyt (5 receptions, 163 yards, 3 TDs), a tight end who stands at 6-7, 250 pounds.

Going into the Trans Valley League season 4-0 is imperative for Ripon’s postseason chances. The Indians’ schedule has been soft so far, but that will change with Hilmar, Escalon, Hughson and Modesto Christian coming in succession.

Bear Creek at Weston Ranch

VOL teams would be wise not to look past Weston Ranch (1-1) in the near future.

The Cougars have been impressive so far, losing a close one to small-school powerhouse Calaveras and surging past Tokay 41-25 last week.

Tokay trounced the Bruins (1-1) 41-19 in Week 1, which bodes well for the Ranch, but they built some confidence with their 41-14 win over East Union. Bear Creek rushed for over 300 yards and has the athleticism to match Weston Ranch’s.

Lathrop at Highlands

The Spartans (1-1) defeated Highlands on their turf last year 16-14, and it was their last win of the season. The Scots went on to play in the SJS Division-V title game, losing to Le Grand, 61-7.

Both teams have losses to top-caliber teams (Lathrop to Escalon, Highlands to Leland of San Jose) but are riding some momentum with Week-2 victories.

Lathrop will look to keep Highlands’ passing attack, led by QB Kurtis Stamm, in check by controlling the tempo with its own ground game.

Ripon Christian at Linden

This is a crossroads match for the Knights (1-1), who open Southern League play with defending champ Le Grand next week.

Linden (0-2) should give them a good challenge to end the nonleague schedule. The Lions’ record is deceiving with losses to undefeated Escalon and Ripon, and they fared better against Ripon than RC did.

Ripon Christian will need to get its balanced offense back in gear after nearly getting shut out by its crosstown rival, and the defense will be tested by Andrew Lewis (212 yards, 10.6 per carry) and the rest of Linden’s ground attack.