MODESTO – The Johansen High Vikings compare favorably to the fellow at the craps table rolling the hot dice.
All he says, winner after winner, is, “Let it ride.”
The Vikings are in no mood to cool off.
Here is a program that won only four games the last two seasons, yet it’s off to a 4-1 start. And how Johansen won its first two Western Athletic Conference games, well, would work as well in the casino as on the football field.
Two games ago, the Vikings stopped a two-point conversion in overtime to beat Pacheco 28-26. Then they let it ride last week against Mountain House.
Trailing 21-14 late in the game, Johansen turned to junior running back Kean Saing, who turned a simple trap play into a 60-yard dash to the end zone. Coach Rod Smith, clutching the dice, chose the win-or-lose 2-point conversion.
“We have a dependable kicker,” Smith explained Monday at the weekly Modesto Quarterback Club lunch meeting. “But I actually prefer to go for two most of the time.”
Smith like his odds, especially when he puts the ball in the hands of running back Tek Garcia. The junior already has rushed for nearly 1,100 yards and is closing in on school records.
He didn’t disappoint against Mountain House with 225 yards and two touchdowns. His biggest carry, however, was his successful 2-pointer to win 22-21 to stay unbeaten in the WAC.
Bigger challengers await this mid-season feel-good story. After Friday night’s trip to Ceres, Johansen runs into a league heavyweight in defending champion Los Banos. Worse, the Vikings have been nursing more than the normal share of injuries.
“It’s a long time since I’ve seen so many injuries,” Smith said.
Those still on their feet, so far, have put on an exciting show.
MODESTO CHRISTIAN – Four members of the Crusaders—Eli’jah Cook, Jesus Ontiveros, Ross Widemon and Cal Poly commit Jeremiah Bernard, joined the QB club as special guests Monday. MC, which gave up 28 unanswered points in the second half and was beaten by Summerville 49-12 last week, opens Trans-Valley League play Friday night at home against Ripon.
“Every game this season has been either tied or a one-score game at halftime,” first-year coach Kurt Bryan said. “We have 22 guys, and 18 go both ways. To be 2-3 at this point is a testament to these guys and our coaches.”
Bryan even found a strength coach from an unexpected place—basketball coach Bryce Fantazia.
NOTES – Enochs (2-3) trailed Oakdale 34-6, then rallied dramatically and drove toward a go-ahead touchdown until an ill-timed interception. The Mustangs added a late touchdown to win 49-35 but the Eagles felt they took a step forward. One reason is transfer quarterback Johnny Staggs, who boosted Enochs in his season debut with 209 passing yards and two touchdowns. Eric Myles caught one of those passes and also rushed for a score. The Eagles begin Central California Athletic League action Friday night against Modesto at Downey. It will be homecoming for the Panthers (1-4), who were idle last week. … Gregori (4-1), off last week, will be tested by Turlock at home Thursday night in another CCAL opener. … Downey coach Jeremy Plaa says quarterback Carson Lamb, sidelined by injury since the first game, will play Friday night at Pitman. The defending CCAL champion Knights (4-1) also could be helped by receiver Joe Ramirez, who absorbed a beating while subbing for Lamb at quarterback. …
Beyer (0-5, 0-2 in the WAC), was plagued by interceptions in the red zone during its 34-7 loss to Ceres. The Patriots will celebrate homecoming Friday night against Lathrop at Johansen. … Grace Davis (0-5, 0-2 in the WAC), like Johansen, has been plagued by injuries. The Spartans were beaten 45-6 by Los Banos last week. Ezekiel Suarez, a junior, scored the only touchdown for Davis, which will meet Pacheco on Friday night at Gregori. …
Tyler Paul Wentworth passed for four touchdowns and rushed for one, while Brooklyn Cheek caught two touchdown passes and – on defense – led Central Catholic in tackles during its 49-7 homecoming win over Pleasant Valley. The Raiders also broke in three transfers, including 280-pound Florida State-commit Manasse Itete. Central Catholic meets East Union this week in a game to be played at Lathrop while East Union wraps up its major field and track renovation at Cunial Field. …
A late fumble deep in opposing territory was costly in Big Valley Christian’s 28-20 loss to Biggs. The Lions, who feature many underclassmen along the line, will be off this week before their Central California Athletic Alliance League opener next week against Millennium. …
Modesto Junior College led in the fourth quarter before Butte scored back-to-back touchdowns for a 28-17 win. The Pirates (2-2) were hurt by six turnovers, five of them interceptions. American River (3-1) will come to MJC Stadium on Saturday afternoon after nearly toppling top-ranked San Mateo. The Beavers, going for the win, missed a 2-point conversion with 20 seconds left and fell to the Bulldogs 24-23.