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WEEK 3 PREVIEW: Throwing out the records
Unbeaten Buffaloes face big challenge in 0-3 Turlock
Bulletin sports fall 2021
Blake Nichelson follows Lyon Colon out of the Manteca backfield during the Buffaloes’ Week 1 win over visiting Patterson on Aug. 27. - photo by Wayne Thallander


Friday, Aug. 10

Atwater at East Union

Manteca at Turlock

Sierra at Stagg

Franklin at Weston Ranch

Calaveras at Ripon


Byes: Lathrop, Ripon Christian

Mark Varnum and the rest of the Manteca football team are not overlooking Turlock because of its 0-3 record.

The fourth-year head coach expects for his Buffaloes (3-0) to meet their biggest challenge of the early season this Friday at Turlock’s Joe Debely Stadium.

“We know what they’re all about,” Varnum said. “That’s a D-I program with great tradition, and with the teams they’ve played the record doesn’t mean a lot. We’ll definitely have to bring our ‘A’ game.”

It’s an intriguing matchup between two powerhouse programs that have not faced off in recent memory. The Bulldogs rolled to a 5-0 record during the pandemic-shortened spring season and were one of the best teams in the Sac-Joaquin Section two years ago when they finished 9-3 and captured a fourth consecutive league championship — the last two in the newly-formed Central California Athletic League.

Turlock was without second-year junior quarterback Cole Gilbert in a 41-0 zero-week loss at Rocklin, No. 2 in the SJS, according to MaxPreps computer rankings. Gilbert had to quarantine that week because of COVID-19 contact tracing.

The Bulldogs then stood toe-to-toe with reigning Division II-AA state champion Clayton Valley on Monday, Aug. 30 after the game was twice postponed because of poor air quality. Gilbert completed 20 of 30 passes for 276 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in the 35-23 defeat.

On short rest, Turlock traveled to Fresno last Friday to play Bullard, one of the top teams out of the Central Section. The Bulldogs fell came up short, 14-12.

Aside from Gilbert, Turlock has playmakers in running back J.T. Foreman II, 6-foot-2 receiver Logan Hart and tight end Joshua Weatherbee.

“Their quarterback is a stud — big lefty and real accurate,” Varnum said. “He’s probably their best all-around athletes so we have to keep him contained. They also want to run the ball, have great skill guys and they’re big up front. They’re a lot like us in a lot of ways. It’s going to be a great challenge for us.”

Manteca is ranked sixth in the Section after lopsided wins over Downey, Patterson and Cosumnes Oaks

Here’s a closer look at other Week 3 contests:


Atwater (0-3) at East Union (2-1): Luke Weaver and the Lancers’ spread attack hit their stride in a 63-15 get-right win over McNair. Weaver threw for 357 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 83 yards and two scores while EU racked up nearly 600 yards of offense.

Win-starved Atwater will surely have an eye on Weaver after allowing Gregori QB Cruz Marines go off for 232 yards and two TDs on 18-of-24 passing as well as 147 yards and three scores rushing. The Falcons were still within reach of victory but fell short, 34-28. Their first two losses were blowouts against top teams in Capital Christian and Clovis East.

This is East Union’s final tune up for VOL play, as it heads to Oakdale next week. The Mustangs have won straight against the Lancers.


Sierra (0-3) at Stagg (0-2): Someone is leaving Daniel Teicheira Memorial Stadium with their first game of the season.

The host Timberwolves have had a rough go at the outset, falling to Hughson and Acalanes in lopsided setbacks. The struggles continued last Thursday, Sept. 2 in a 16-2 loss to Pacheco while two starting linemen were knocked out by COVID-19 protocols.

Stagg is coming off seven-point losses to Sacramento and Rio Americano, the latter of which won in overtime. Running back Willie Turner has been the Delta Kings’ top offensive threat with 74 rushing yards (3.2 per carry) and one touchdown, and 16 receptions for 206 yards and two TDs.


Franklin (2-1) at Weston Ranch (1-2): The Cougars are aching to atone for their 14-13 defeat at Lathrop in the Battle of I-5 revival.

Weston Ranch has beaten Franklin in three of their last four meetings, though one was reversed by forfeiture on Aug. 21, 2018. Gifted or not, it was the last time the Yellowjackets experienced victory until this season. They’re buzzing after winning back-to-back games for the first time since 2017, downing lowly Florin 27-0 on the road Monday, Aug. 30 and escaping Denair with a 34-28 overtime victory last week. Baseball standout Corban Lopez threw for four TDs at Denair, two to promising sophomore Don’jhae Hardin.


Calaveras (1-2) at Ripon (1-2): A state champ two years ago, the banged-up Indians earned a much-needed win last Friday at Center, 34-22, ending a five-game skid. Another ‘W’ this week against one of the Mother Lode League’s best would be huge as they gear up for the rigors of the Trans-Valley League.

Calaveras hopes to bounce back from a 49-34 home loss to Ripon Christian. Calaveras led 14-0 after holding the Knights to just two offensive plays (both fumbles for turnovers) in the first quarter.

Ripon has won five straight against Calaveras. Both teams look to establish their run games. For Calaveras, Braden Orlandi leads the backfield along with 6-foot, 200-pound Jake Hopper.