Seven members of the Enochs Eagles were honored by the Modesto Quarterback Club this week. Front row from left: Aiden Muhammad, Joshua Terry, Luke Giannotta and Logan Edwards. Back row: Skyler McCauley, Marley Okoro and Mitchell Owen. (Ron Agostini)

QB Club: Are new football venues possible at Beyer, Davis and Modesto?

Ron Agostini

MODESTO – The drumbeat has begun for the construction of long overdue football field venues for Modesto City Schools teams and, to no surprise, there are skeptics.

“I’m not holding my breath,” Beyer High coach Mike Young said.

“It would be amazing for our community,” Grace Davis coach Trevor Mew said.

Jeremy Plaa, the veteran head coach of the Downey Knights, offered a different view.

“I’m optimistic,” he said. “Why not Modesto?”

The coaches, voicing their points of view at Monday’s meeting of the Modesto Quarterback Club, noticed the action by the Modesto City Schools Board earlier this month. The district, among countless other projects, is considering the addition of football venues at both Beyer and Grace Davis.

 And, in another major move, it also proposes a football stadium at Modesto High as a centerpiece of a sweeping campus renovation of the city’s original school.  The proposal resurrects an amazing fact: The Panthers never have played a varsity football game on campus. They used Modesto Junior College Stadium for decades.

Here’s a good question: Why now? The city’s sad shortage of football facilities has hamstrung local teams long-term. Plaa reported the sad status quo: Seven city schools, and only three football fields –Johansen’s Dan Gonsalves Stadium, Gregori’s Don Lanphear Stadium and Downey’s Chuck Hughes Stadium – for game nights.  MJC Stadium with its increasing costs is rarely used these days. Another issue is the emergence of girls flag football, now in its first season.

City Schools leaders raised hope, however, in its announced budgeting of $245 million for facility upgrades. About $198 million of that comes from Measure L.

 Yes, the football expansion is placed on the so-called “wish list.” But as Plaa reminded, schools up and down the valley are building and upgrading football stadia. This is beyond due for Modesto.

“I’m confident that the school district has the money and is doing the right thing,” Plaa said. “The big word going around is ‘equity.’ Three stadiums for seven high schools is a nightmare.”

The quarterback club, for many years, heard former Beyer coach Doug Severe jokingly ask for donations for the “Beyer Stadium Fund.” It seemed so pie-in-the sky that the idea was dismissed out of hand.

But think about what an on-campus facility could do to a formerly respectable but now struggling program at Beyer? Or for a first-year coach at Davis? Or for the tradition-steeped campus on the West Side? For Beyer, Davis and Modesto, every game has been “on the road” to some degree.

“They (the school district) gave us a nice view and a nice picture,” Young said. “I really hope it happens. I’ll just have to see it first.”

ENOCHS – Seven members of the Enochs Eagles (3-5, 1-2 Central California Athletic League), special guests of the quarterback club, positioned themselves for a win last week against Pitman. The Eagles, one yard from a go-ahead touchdown late in the third quarter, turned it over and eventually were beaten 22-10. One of the honorees at the meeting was defensive end/wing Logan Edwards, who was praised by coach Tracey Traub for his work as a four-year varsity standout. Enochs meets Downey for homecoming Friday night. Traub also recognized three-year running back Aiden Muhammad.

NOTES – The Central Catholic defense, dented for 33 points during the first half by Oakdale’s effective Wing-T ground attack, filled the gaps and controlled the second half last week for a 64-39 win. The Raiders (6-2, 3-0 Valley Oak League) also were motivated by a trademark rant at halftime from head coach Roger Canepa. The VOL title will be decided Friday night when a hot Manteca team pays a visit to Patton Field. … Johansen (5-3, 3-2 Western Athletic Conference) jumped to a 16-0 lead only to be overpowered in a 31-22 loss at Lathrop. That sets up a Lathrop-at-Los Banos showdown on Friday night for the WAC title. The Vikings, still with much to play for, will go as far as Tek Garcia (1,553 rushing yards, 11 touchdowns) carries them. …

Johansen will travel to Downey on Friday to meet Grace Davis for the Spartans’ homecoming. Mew said the Spartans (2-6, 2-3 WAC) are recovering from early-season injuries. The result was a 28-7 victory last week over Beyer. … Beyer (0-8, 0-5 WAC), still without a non-pandemic year victory since 2019, believes it has a chance against 1-7 Pacheco Thursday night at Johansen. … Modesto (1-7, 0-3 CCAL), beaten by Gregori 48-6 last week, will be the underdog at CCAL-leading Turlock. …

Downey’s usually potent offense was limited to only four first downs during the second half, as an early 11-0 lead downsized to a 24-11 loss to Turlock. That setback probably will end the Knights’ two-year hold on the CCAL title, and Plaa lamented four game-changing turnovers. Turlock’s physicality, seen earlier in the season during a win over Gregori, carried the night. “Turlock’s strength of schedule showed,” Plaa said. … Gregori (6-2, 2-1 CCAL), already gearing for the postseason, prepares for its final two games – Friday night at home vs. Pitman and next week at Downey. ...

Modesto Christian coach Kurt Bryan said the Crusaders’ 28-14 loss to Hughson was “by far the best game we played this season.” The Crusaders (2-6, 0-3 Trans-Valley League) will welcome Livingston on Friday night. … Big Valley Christian responded to a 14-0 deficit with a stirring rally and a 36-28 win at home over Mira Loma on Senior Night. The Lions rushed for over 400 yards but didn’t take the lead to stay until a conversion pass from Nicolas Toledo to freshman Titus Beers early in the fourth quarter. BVC (3-5) travels to Merced to meet favored Stone Ridge Christian for the Central California Athletic Alliance League title Friday night. …

Modesto Junior College (3-3, 1-0 Valley Conference) snapped a three-game losing streak with a big second half last week for a league-opening 27-14 victory at Sacramento City. The Pirates mended some injuries during their bye week and now believe they can be a force in the league race. Coming to MJC, however, is a defense-heavy Contra Costa team (5-1) that will test the Pirates for their homecoming game Saturday at 1 p.m.