This fall saw the rise of the Trans-Valley League, the toughest small-school football conference in California.
After playing in the shadows of the Valley Oak League and the epic seasons of late produced by its Big Three (Central Catholic, Oakdale and Manteca), the Trans-Valley League was the most exciting and closely-contested conference in the southern half of the Sac-Joaquin Section.
Ripon and Modesto Christian shared the league title, but it was runner-up Hilmar that caught fire in the postseason. Led by seniors Justin Rentfro and Isaac Sharp, a lightning-and-thunder tandem out of the backfield, the Yellowjackets rolled to Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI and CIF State Division VI-AA titles.
"In the nine years I've been back coaching, top to bottom, it's the toughest and the deepest," said Escalon coach Andrew Beam, who won nine games in his first season as Mark Loureiro's successor. "It was fun to have the TVL where, week in and week out, it was going to be a grind. Kids nowadays want to play in those type of games. Any competitor will tell you, it's not fun with the running clocks and the 50-0s. It's the ones where you face adversity that you remember."
Here’s a look at the all-conference selections and major award winners in the TVL, as voted on by its coaches:
Outstanding Offensive Player: Ryan Daggett, quarterback, Ripon
Outstanding Defensive Player: Jacob Walden, defensive end, Escalon
Outstanding Offensive Lineman: Damien Tom, tackle, Escalon
Outstanding Offensive Back: Isaac Sharp, running back, Hilmar
Outstanding Receiver: Damien Contreras, receiver, Hughson
Outstanding Defensive Lineman: Xavier Carlton, defensive end, Modesto Christian
Outstanding Defensive Back: Jose Hernandez, free safety, Modesto Christian
Outstanding Linebackers: Nash Satnat, middle linebacker, Escalon; Justin Rentfro, middle linebacker, Hilmar
First team: Greg Clark, OL, Ripon; Damien Tom, OL, Escalon; Landon Wright, OL, Modesto Christian; Wisdom Crosby, OL, Modesto Christian; Jared Collier, OL, Hilmar; Nick Aguilera, OL, Hilmar; Kaidence Trejo, WR, Escalon; Damien Contreras, WR, Hughson; Hayden Sauser, QB, Modesto Christian; Roland Davis, RB, Ripon; Kaden Christensen, RB, Escalon; Isaac Schinmann, wing, Modesto Christian; Isaac Sharp, RB, Hilmar; Cole Gilbert, DL, Escalon; Xavier Carlton, DL, Modesto Christian; Landon Wright, DL, Modesto Christian; Nick Aguilera, DL, Hilmar; Spencer Giffen, DL, Hughson; Nico Ilardi, DB, Ripon; Kaden Christensen, DB, Escalon; Jose Hernandez, DB, Modesto Christian; Marcus Alvarez, DB, Hilmar; Grant Wiebe, LB, Ripon; Colton Panero, LB, Escalon; Joao Silveira, LB, Hilmar; Greg Clark, LB, Ripon, Nash Satnat, LB, Escalon; Dom Myers, LB, Modesto Christian; Justin Rentfro, LB, Hilmar; Nico Ilardi, P, Ripon.
Second team: Jeremiah Willey, OL, Ripon; Caleb Delgado, OL, Ripon; David Camachi, OL, Escalon; Mason Terry, OL, Ripon; EJ Flores, OL, Modesto Christian; Seth Gallo, OL, Modesto Christian; Isaiah Gonzalez, OL, Modesto Christian; Jacob Diaz, OL, Hilmar; Damien Caetano, OL, Hughson; Dillon Johnson, TE, Modesto Christian; Nico Ilardi, WR, Ripon; Donovan Brown, WR, Livingston; Bryan Millan, WR, Hilmar; Aidan Azevedo, WR, Hilmar; Noah Barcelos, WR, Hilmar; Treven Crowley, QB, Hilmar; Danny Hernandez, RB, Ripon, Derric Roy, RB, Ripon; Luke Anderson, RB, Escalon; Jose Hernandez, RB, Modesto Christian; Carlos Arreola, RB, Hughson; Nate Gutierrez, DL, Livingston; Damien Tom, DL, Escalon; Sam Coon, DL, Modesto Christian; Clayton Dowdy, DL, Hughson; Nic Certuce, DL, Riverbank; Troy Brogan, DL, Ripon; Giovanny Pulido, DL, Livingston; Eli Morales, DB, Livingston; Bryan Millan, DB, Hilmar; Cole Cozine, DB, Hilmar; Bryce Martin, DB, Riverbank; Danny Hernandez, DB, Ripon; Mario Hernandez, DB, Modesto Christian; Johnny Williams, DB, Modesto Christian; Seth Mendoza, DB, Hughson; Pat Garcia, LB, Modesto Christian; Brennan Mason, LB, Hilmar; Deondre Davis, LB, Riverbank; Roland Davis, LB, Ripon; Nathan Noeller, LB, Hughson, Nic Certuce, LB, Riverbank; Brandon Rainer, LB, Ripon; Nate Alanis, LB, Riverbank; Celso Sanchez, LB, Livingston; Jacob Johnson, LB, Hughson; Igor Ventreschi, K, Riverbank; Nathan Valdez, K, Ripon; Cole Gilbert, P, Escalon; Nate Alanis, P, Riverbank.
Follow James Burns on Twitter @jburns1980, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.