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? With 8 straight losses to RC, 'Cats hope for more in ninth life

James Burns
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Some believe the Waterford High football team is the runaway favorite in the Southern League, playing with generational talent, and they may be right.

But here's a hard truth to chew on: It's been about that long since the Wildcats (5-0, 2-0) have topped Friday's opponent, the Ripon Christian Knights.

Title implications at the Corral

Regional Power Rankings

American Chevrolet Athlete of the Week

Ripon Christian (4-1, 1-0) has won eight straight contests with the Wildcats and only one of those games -- just one! -- have been decided by less than a score, a 28-27 decision in 2014. Since then, it's been a rush of Ripon Christian routs, games remembered as much for the defense as the awesome offensive onslaught. In the last six meetings, Ripon Christian has yielded a total of 26 points and has three shutouts.

After splitting last week's return to "Bold or Just Bald?" -- Cortez and I were in lockstep, 17-7 with our picks -- Friday's small-school Game of the Week looks to be the difference-maker. It's the one of only two games on the slate that we stand opposed. Coincidentally, both games are in the Southern League.

Here's a closer look at those picks:

2021 WEEKLY PREDICTIONS

Last Week -- Burns: 17-7. Cortez: 17-7

FRIDAY, OCT. 1

Central California Athletic League

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

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

Pitman at Turlock, 7 p.m. Burns: Turlock Cortez: Turlock

Central California Conference

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

El Capitan at Merced (Golden Valley H.S.), 7 p.m. Burns: Merced Cortez: Merced

Western Athletic Conference

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

Mountain House at Los Banos, 7 p.m. Burns: Los Banos Cortez: Los Banos

Pacheco at Davis (MJC), 7 p.m. Burns: Davis Cortez: Davis

Valley Oak League

Central Catholic at Oakdale, 7 p.m. Burns: Central Catholic Cortez: Central Catholic

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

Sierra at Weston Ranch, 7 p.m. Burns: Weston Ranch Cortez: Weston Ranch

Trans-Valley League

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

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

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

Mother Lode League

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

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

Southern League

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

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

Mariposa at Orestimba, 7:15 p.m. Burns: Orestimba Cortez: Orestimba

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

Non-League

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

Big Valley Christian at Hamilton, 7:30 p.m. Burns: Hamilton Cortez: Hamilton