Three of the top large-school programs in the Front Row's region share the spotlight this week, but only one can be Game of the Week. Which one is it: Tracy at Turlock, Merced at Downey, or St. Mary's at Central Catholic?

Poll: Vote for the Chicken Ranch Casino Game of the Week - and then vote again

James Burns

There are three big games Friday involving the Front Row's top large-school programs, but only one can be the Chicken Ranch Casino Game of the Week: Tracy at Turlock, Merced at Downey, or St. Mary's at Central Catholic.

The poll closed on Thursday at 5 p.m., and the Merced-Downey game was the people's choice.

Here's a closer look at each Game of the Week candidate:

Top-ranked Central Catholic (1-1) continues to run the gauntlet with Holy Bowl rival St. Mary's visiting David Patton Field. Both private-school powers are coming off a loss. The Raiders hung tough with nationally-ranked De La Salle for three quarters, but wilted quickly. The Spartans scored 14 points in 69 seconds, turning a backyard brawl into a blowout. St. Mary's (0-1) was routed by another Bay Area power, Pittsburg.

Central Catholic has won two of the last three meetings.

In another clash of Sac-Joaquin Section heavies, Tracy (2-0) and its high-powered offense visit No. 3 Turlock (1-1), flying high after routing one of Nevada's finest, Reno. Tracy is captained by quarterback Logan Fife, who has led an assault on opposing secondaries. The Tracy Bulldogs have throttled Kimball and Buhach Colony. Meanwhile, the Turlock Bulldogs rebounded from a turnover-prone loss to Freedom of Oakley in their opener with a 47-21 victory over Reno last week. San Diego State-bound defensive end Garrett Fountain led the way with eight tackles and a forced fumble.

With the win, Turlock vaulted to No. 10 in the MaxPreps computer rankings for the Sac-Joaquin Section. Guess who is one spot back? Tracy.

Finally, here's a regional clash building in momentum: No. 5 Merced (2-0) at No. 2 Downey (2-0). Both programs have proven themselves worthy league title contenders despite  rotating quarterbacks, normally the indication of a weaker team. The Bears have been electric in impressive wins over Del Campo and Gregori no matter who is at the controls, Dhameer Warren or Junior Garcia, and Downey may have finally settled on its starter. Freshman Beau Green played the entire second half in a shootout win over Manteca, 44-42, and delivered on the coaching staff's trust. Green scored the game-winning TD with 12 seconds left, completing the fourth quarter comeback.

Junior Bryce Gouker played well in the Knights' opener, a victory over East Union, and may factor into Friday's game. .