Turlock defensive end Devin Bradley celebrates a stop by the Bulldogs' defense during a season-opening win over Freedom of Oakley on Aug. 23, 2019. The Bulldogs return home to face another Bulldog this Thursday -- Tracy High, its annual Dogbone rival. (Samantha Schmidt)

Bold or Just Bald? No. 3 Oakdale finds itself in a big game before the Big Game

James Burns
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One week before The Big Game, the Valley Oak League gives us a big game. 

Third-ranked Oakdale travels to Kimball in a meeting of two 4-0 teams armed with marquee quarterbacks. Kimball is braced by senior Nicholas Coronado, a three-year varsity starter and one of the top players in the program's young history. Coronado has passed for nearly 6,000 yards and 63 touchdowns. Through four games, Coronado has already matched his productivity in the spring. He has thrown for 1,565 yards and 18 touchdowns, and he’s averaging nearly 400 yards per game. 

Oakdale counters with Jackson Holt, a 6-foot-5 signal caller. Despite playing in a run-heavy offense, Holt is starting to generate interest at the next level. He has one offer from Yale. More importantly, for a rabid Mustang fanbase, Holt has Oakdale positioned favorably in the VOL title race. The Mustangs routed East Union in their league opener, 59-13, and will host No. 2 Central Catholic next week at The Corral.

In the first installment of “Bold or Just Bald?” in 18 months, Joe Cortez and I are in lock-step with this pick: Like it did in last week’s win over the Lancers and quarterback Luke Weaver, Oakdale will solve the Coronado conundrum and set up a showdown with the rival Raiders.

Now, our other picks ...

CENTRAL CALIFORNIA CONFERENCE 

Atwater at El Capitan (Merced College), 7 p.m. Burns: Atwater Cortez: Atwater

Central Valley at Buhach Colony, 7 p.m. Burns: Central Valley Cortez: Central Valley

Merced at Patterson, 7 p.m. Burns: Merced Cortez: Merced

VALLEY OAK LEAGUE

Weston Ranch at Central Catholic, 7 p.m. Burns: Central Catholic Cortez: Central Catholic

Sierra at East Union, 7 p.m. Burns: East Union Cortez: East Union

Oakdale at Kimball, 7 p.m. Burns: Oakdale Cortez: Oakdale

WESTERN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE

Beyer at Ceres, 7 p.m. Burns: Ceres Cortez: Ceres

Davis at Los Banos, 7 p.m. Burns: Davis Cortez: Davis

Mountain House at Johansen, 7 p.m. Burns: Johansen Cortez: Johansen

Pacheco at Lathrop, 7 p.m. Burns: Lathrop Cortez: Lathrop

TRANS-VALLEY LEAGUE

Hilmar at Ripon , 7 p.m. Burns: Hilmar Cortez: Hilmar

Hughson at Livingston, 7 p.m. Burns: Hughson Cortez: Livingston 

Modesto Christian at Riverbank, 7 p.m. Burns: Modesto Christian Cortez: Modesto Christian

SOUTHERN LEAGUE

Denair at Gustine, 7:15 p.m. Burns: Gustine Cortez: Gustine

Mariposa County at Delhi, 7:15 p.m. Burns: Mariposa Cortez: Mariposa 

Orestimba at Ripon Christian, 7:15 p.m. Burns: Ripon Christian Cortez: Ripon Christian

Le Grand at Waterford, 7:15 p.m. Burns: Waterford Cortez: Waterford

NON-LEAGUE

Pitman at Golden Valley, 7 p.m. Burns: Golden Valley Cortez: Golden Valley

Lincoln at Downey, 7 p.m. Burns: Downey Cortez: Lincoln

Lodi at Gregori, 7 p.m. Burns: Lodi Cortez: Lodi

Galt at Amador, 7 p.m. Burns: Galt Cortez: Galt

Mendota at Argonaut, 7 p.m. Burns: Mendota Cortez: Mendota

Stellar Prep at Sonora, 7 p.m. Burns: Sonora Cortez: Sonora

Summerville at Stone Ridge Christian, 7 p.m. Burns: Summerville Cortez: Summerville

Woodland Christian at Big Valley Christian, 7 p.m. Burns: Woodland Christian Cortez: Woodland Christian