Modesto Christian first-year coach Kurt Bryan makes his first appearance at the Modesto Quarterback Club.

QB Club: Downey replaces QB with receiver and beats Lodi 31-14

Ron Agostini

MODESTO – High school coaches understand that the time between end-of-game Friday night and Monday-morning class can be an eternity.

A lot of things can happen to players, not all of them good, over the two-day break. It was the Downey High Knights’ turn to jump into that barrel last weekend, and it became a mini-crisis.

But thanks to junior Joe Ramirez, the crisis was averted.

Ramirez was asked to replace quarterback Carson Lamb, who sprained a finger in his throwing hand over the weekend after Downey’s 50-33 victory over Lincoln. Never mind that Ramirez was Lamb’s favorite receiver in the season opener (5 catches, 119 yards, 3 touchdowns).

 Ramirez, 6-foot-2, smoothly switched roles and anchored the Knights’ 31-14 win over Lodi. He completed 17 of 30 passes for 263 yards and two TDs, and also rushed for 62 yards. Derrick Kirkendall lightened Ramirez’s load with two rushing TDs and a score via reception.

“Joe did a great job,” coach Jeremy Plaa praised during Monday’s Modesto Quarterback Club lunch meeting. “He was able to lead the offense down the field, had great leadership.”

The position wasn’t foreign to Ramirez. He was the JV quarterback as a freshman and, tellingly, is listed as a quarterback on the Downey roster. To that point, Plaa already had installed a special “Joe Show” four-play package at quarterback, a playbook that clearly expanded on game night.

Nevertheless, the stress level of Plaa’s staff picked up a notch last week. Lamb still couldn’t grip the ball, so he was held out.

 Another thing: When Ramirez was forced to call the signals, he vacated his receiver spot. And he already is Lamb’s favorite target, so the Knights’ depth and versatility were tested.

Plaa said the swelling has done down in Lamb’s finger, and the quarterback is “probably 50-50” to play Friday night at home against Merced (1-1). The Bears are formidable with quarterback Quintell Dupree and a stout defensive line featuring senior Jalonn Booth.

Last year, Downey barely defeated Merced 17-14.

“(Coach) Robbie Scheidt does a great job and it’s always a chess game against his team,” Plaa said. “Merced will be the challenge we’re looking for.”

NOTES – Modesto Christian first-year coach Kurt Bryan, a veteran of over 30 years on the sideline, says his receiver Jeremiah Bernard “is the most natural receiver I’ve ever coached.” Bernard has committed to Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. The Crusaders look to improve to 2-0 this week at El Capitan, which was weakened by suspension after its brawl against Delhi on opening night. …

Johansen is 2-0 for the first time in five years after beating a good Orestimba team 36-32. The Vikings rushed for 423 yards, 196 by Tek Garcia. “I had said we would throw the ball this this year, but right now we see no need to,” coach Rod Smith said. Johansen will be at home Friday night against Bear River. …

The Riverbank Bruins snapped a 42-game losing streak, the longest in the Sac-Joaquin Section, with last week’s 28-6 victory over Valley of Sacramento. The last time they had won was five years ago to the night, 14-3 over Delta of Clarksburg. …Modesto knotted its record at 1-1 with a 26-22 decision over Beyer.  Running back/linebacker Vanntheesouk Dam, nicknamed “Lucky” according to coach Dylan Miller,  rushed for 213 yards and two touchdowns. The Panthers journey to 1-1 Stagg. … Gregori fell to 1-1, with a trip to 2-0 Atwater coming up, after its 39-27 loss to Merced. “Too little too late,“ Jaguar coach Lamar Wallace said. ...

Central Catholic, 1-1 after a tough 42-33 loss to St. Mary’s, will travel to Reno to face Bishop Manogue, which lost to Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas in last year’s Nevada state final. Manogue lost to Jesuit of Carmichael 30-14 last week. … Grace Davis coach Trevor Mew watched his defense line up in 3rd-and-long seven times, only to give up five touchdowns during the Spartans’ 62-14 loss to Sierra. The 0-2 Spartans are idle this week. … Enochs (1-1) understood its challenge last week. The Eagles lost 56-0 last year to Liberty of Brentwood. In the rematch, Enochs trailed 42-0 during the third quarter en route to a 49-3 loss. The Eagles will face Buhach Colony (0-2) on Friday night at Gregori. …

Modesto Junior College will open its season Friday night at Laney. It will mark the Pirates’ only game under the lights. The rest of the games, home and away, will kick off at 1 p.m…The next quarterback club meeting will be held on Tuesday, the day after Labor Day, at the Denny’s Restaurant on McHenry Avenue not far from Doctors Medical Center.