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EUs bulldog on the sideline
Jason Stocks return to the sideline sparks second-half shutout
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Bulldogs don’t belong in a catbird seat, so East Union defensive coordinator Jason Stock’s decision to leave the press box should come as no surprise.

Stock returned to the sideline at halftime of the Lancers’ 60-19 victory over Johansen, where his energy and enthusiasm sparked another second-half shutout by the defense.

East Union’s offense will get much of the applause. Sophomore quarterback Jack Weaver anchored an attack that scored 21 points in a three-minute span to erase a small deficit.

But don’t overlook Stock’s halftime adjustments, which included a new vantage point for the coach. Stock began the game above the press box at Dino Cunial Field, radioing plays to an assistant on the ground.

Something, though, was getting lost in translation. 

The Lancers – a team that had two weeks to rehearse for their home opener – were anything but convincing in their play. East Union trailed 19-17 at the intermission and Stock’s defense simply couldn’t get off the field. 

Johansen’s Dominik Gordon rushed for 89 of his game-high 141 yards in the first half and the Vikings were nearly flawless in third-and-long and fourth-down situations.

Gordon converted on a third-and-8 on the Vikings’ opening drive, and then ripped off a 36-yard touchdown run three plays later. Later, Johansen snatched a 19-17 lead with a 15-play, seven-minute drive that included a fourth-down conversion and a costly holding penalty on the Lancers on a third-and-9.

Stock had seen enough. He changed seats, and in the process may have changed East Union’s stars. He joined head coach Willie Herrera on the sideline, where his presence seemed to jolt the Lancers.

“Being with Rick (James) over at Manteca for all those years, we’re kind of the same,” said Stock, a former Manteca High assistant. “We’re both fiery guys. I just demand that they play hard, that’s all.”

There were, of course, some tactical adjustments. Stock put an extra body in the box to snuff out the Vikings’ ground game.

East Union forced three turnovers, stopped Johansen on a fourth-and-1 at its own 9-yard line, and didn’t allow a single point the rest of the way. 

“I guess he wanted to come down to see it. Hey, it worked,” Herrera said shrugging his shoulders. 

Stock is staying put.

His defense hasn’t allowed a point in the second half of either of its games and now it draws its toughest task yet – Gregori and highly touted running back Demetrius Vinson.

“I’m on the ground,” Stock said with a chuckle. “I’m giving up on that. I’ve been given the unofficial title of ‘Bulldog on the sideline.’ I try to keep everything in order and run the defense.”

• • •

Flag day for Ripon

Ripon snapped a two-game losing streak despite itself.

The Indians were penalized 14 times for 121 yards in a 45-25 victory at Lathrop. Four of those yellow hankies led to first downs for the Spartans, who scored twice on drives aided by unnecessary roughness and pass interference calls.

The miscues also took points off the scoreboard. A holding infraction negated Ryan Fugit’s 52-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Instead, Ripon settled for a 32-yard field goal by Thomas Sidtikun to take a 10-6 lead.

“It’s a big win for our guys, a big monkey off our back. We know we’re a better football team than what we’ve showed the last couple of weeks but we’re a young team,” head coach Chris Johnson said. “We’d make two good plays, but then make two bad plays. There just isn’t a whole lot of consistency yet. At the same time, I think we’re getting as the season goes on.” 

• • •

Breakthrough performance

Lathrop’s Reggie Carter Jr. was held without a catch in a Week One victory over Liberty Ranch.

The Spartan wide receiver had just three catches for 21 yards in a season-opening loss at West. 

On Friday, he exorcised his frustrations, piecing together a seven-catch, 155-yard effort that included three touchdowns.

“Finally,” Carter said in between high-fives following his first touchdown reception, a 24-yard slant from quarterback Diego Chavez.

Carter’s third TD was electric. On Lathrop’s opening drive of the second half, Carter took a short screen pass on third-and-10 and turned it into a 70-yard score. 

“Huge for him because he was a little down on himself,” coach Steven Wichman said, “but he didn’t allow that to affect the way he played. It’s a testament to his mental approach. He’s not too up, not too down, just a humble young man.

“Just stuck with it and played strong tonight. I’m very proud of him. Very impressed.”

• • •

Battle of I-5 on the brain

It’s two weeks away, but Wichman is already thinking about the Spartans’ Valley Oak League opener against Weston Ranch.

The two hooked up in the inaugural Battle of I-5 last fall with Weston Ranch holding on for the 35-29 victory. The Cougars are 5-0 against Lathrop in their all-time series.

Lathrop trailed 21-7 at the half, but had a chance to steal the victory on its final play from the Cougars’ 16-yard line. Then-quarterback Kenny Garrett targeted Nathan Ogunbanwo in the end zone, but overthrew the 6-foot-4 tight end. 

“There’s no better way to start league than to have our Battle of I-5 game at Weston Ranch,” Wichman said. “We still have the fact that they won the game at our home stadium lingering in the back of our minds, so we should be ready to come with a healthy approach.”