The Week 2 slate of prep football games is chocked full of interesting match-ups, including two contests pitting Sac-Joaquin Section playoff finalists.
Every team has the same goal. Aside from winning, they are looking to get better.
Whether they won or lost last Friday, area teams were predictably rusty in their season openers. Manteca and Ripon, two new-look squads coming off championship seasons, are among those working toward better showings this Friday when they square off at Guss Schmiedt Field.
Last week, SJS Division III champ Manteca (1-0) overcame five first-half turnovers and much-improved Kimball to escape with a 44-38 win. Meanwhile, Ripon (0-1) had a more alarming Week 1 result, a 39-6 thrashing at the hands of East Union.
The Indians leaned on a battle-tested senior group and stout defense in winning a share of the Trans-Valley League title, SJS Division V banner and California Interscholastic Division IV-AA championship last year. For this season only, Ripon and traditional rival Escalon are competing with the likes of Manteca and the competitive Valley Oak League.
Ripon trailed 7-6 at halftime in its opener but ultimately had no answer for East Union's ground attack, which piled up nearly 400 yards. Offensively, the Indians managed a 14-yard touchdown pass from senior QB Aaron Wood to 6-foot-7 newcomer Bronson Burrow in the second quarter but otherwise struggled to get untracked.
At Kimball, the Buffaloes did not have issues moving the offense, but staying on offense was the problem. Of their five early giveaways, three were in the red zone and helped the upset-minded Jaguars take a 16-8 halftime lead.
The ball security improved in the second half, as Manteca rode its junior backfield tandem of Khalid Robinson (178 yards, TD) and Lyon Colon (150 yards, two TDs) and the offensive line to victory. The defense contributed three sacks and three turnovers, needing every big play to hold off Kimball's dangerous offense.
Despite their proximity, this is the first official meeting between Manteca and Ripon in at least two decades. They've previously tangled in preseason scrimmages and full-contact camps over the summer.
Here's a glance at other Week 2 match-ups:
Oakdale (1-0) at Sierra (1-0): There's a score to settle after these two split their two games in 2019.
It will be Oakdale seeking revenge at Daniel Teicheira Memorial Stadium on Friday after Sierra upset the Mustangs 22-19 in the SJS Division IV final. The Timberwolves return few starters from that team, but third-year RB Kimoni Stanley is back. He broke Sierra's career-rushing record in a 55-7 blowout of Weston Ranch, while first-year senior QB Ryan Borgeson threw for three TDs on his four completions.
Oakdale held off reigning CIF Division IV-A champ Escalon 38-35 last week. The Mustangs and their Wing-T ground out 365 yards with heralded Jackson Holt back behind center. Escalon, which scored the final 15 points, countered with Ty Harris (17-for-23, 283 yards; two rushing TDs).
East Union (1-0) at Kimball (0-1): Another revenge game, this one with East Union looking to right a wrong.
Last year, the Lancers were minutes away from locking down a much-needed win in their postseason hopes, but then-sophomore QB Nicholas Coronado led a fourth-quarter charge in which the Jaguars scored 20 unanswered points for a 48-44 victory.
Coronado returns and has shown no signs of dropping off from his breakout campaign. He burned Manteca for 335 yards passing and four TDs in Kimball's near-upset of the Buffs. Also back is multi-purpose threat Alonzo Jackson (167 yards from scrimmage, three TDs).
They'll be a good test for a ball-hawking East Union defense that had four interceptions at Ripon. Juniors Johntae Maggard (169 yards, two TDs) and Luke Weaver (6-of-8 passing, 87 yards, TD) helped the Lancers churn out 458 yards of offense.
Grace Davis (0-1) at Lathrop (0-1): Both teams are eager to bounce back from their Week-1 heartbreak.
Grace Davis blew a three-score halftime lead at Ceres, which scored 20 unanswered points to break a 15-game losing skid, 34-32. Davis had trouble keeping sophomore QB Landyn Hudson (17 of 25, 309 yards, four TDs) in check, who led a 95-yard march on the winning drive.
Things were also looking up for Lathrop's Spartans on Saturday when they built a 15-0 halftime lead, but they were done in by injuries to their top running backs in the Old River Rivalry. Mountain House came back to win, 22-15.
Weston Ranch (0-1) at Denair (0-1): Weston Ranch had a tough debut match-up for first-year coach Ron Wayman last week, but the Cougars will get to face another rebuilding program this Friday in a non-league bout.
Denair of the small-school Southern Athletic League are coming off back-to-back winning campaigns, claiming the CIF Division VII-AA title in 2018. The Coyotes had trouble keeping up with Orestimba a 49-6 defeat, giving up 429 yards in the process.
Like the Ranch, Denair has had to consolidate players into one varsity team because of low program-wide turnout.