With four teams idle, it’s a light week on the grid iron in the area but an important one for the few in action.
East Union, fresh off two blowout wins to start the season, will have what is likely its toughest pre-league test in visiting West of Tracy on Friday. The Lancers are looking to join Manteca Unified rivals Manteca, Sierra and Weston Ranch as the lone 3-0 Valley Oak League squads.
Also on Friday, Lathrop (1-1) will have its hands full with 2-0 Franklin of Elk Grove, the ninth-ranked team in the Sacramento Bee’s top 20. Ripon (1-2) has a short week with Grace Davis (2-1) awaiting the Indians tonight at Downey High.
East Union has its home opener after routing Ceres and Johansen on the road by a combined 105-20 score. West (0-3) was blown out by Sacramento power Sheldon 49-6 but was competitive in 21-14 and 27-14 losses to VOL opponents Lathrop and Kimball, respectively.
The Wolf Pack went 6-5 last year and reached the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoffs but has graduated much of its talent. Their top returning player is 6-foot-2, 220-pound junior fullback/linebacker Jonah Gaoteote.
Lathrop has had two weeks to prepare for its stiffest pre-league challenge. The Spartans suffered a 16-14 loss to Trans-Valley League co-champion Hilmar on Sept. 2, but it doesn’t get any easier Friday.
Lathrop’s offense will look to get on track against a Franklin defense that has yet to have given up a point. The Wildcats thrashed McNair 45-0 in their season opener before stomping Valley, 52-0.
The blowouts have allowed Franklin to spread the ball around. Fleet-footed running back Jalen Lampley (131 yards, 3 TDs) is averaging 21.8 yards per carry and is also a threat in the passing game (three catches, 81 yards, TD).
Ripon aims to move on from a 69-7 trouncing administered by Sonora last Friday. The good news for the Indians is that they won’t face the triple-option juggernaut they saw at Dunlavy Field. Although Davis has a winning record, the Spartans are averaging just 11.3 points and lost to Central Valley 34-7 on Friday.
Ripon, however, caps off its nonleague schedule with another big challenge next week when it heads to Northern Section power Sutter. The Indians are in the middle of a four-week stretch on the road. They’ll finally get to host a game at Stouffer Field on Oct. 7 when they open the TVL season against Mountain House.