Five members of the 3-0 Downey High Knights were recognized by the Modesto Quarterback Club on Tuesday. Front row from left: Cody Pattee, Jeremy Skeen and Dominic Loretelli. Back row: Jack Hinchey and Colin Nilsson. (Ron Agostini)

QB Club: Downey rides to Hughson for matchup with state champs

Ron Agostini

MODESTO – The powerful Trans-Valley League seems to enjoy punching above its enrollment weight, which adds intrigue to Friday night’s matchup between the Downey High Knights and the Hughson Huskies.

The atmosphere promises to be electric at Hughson, the scene for this fascinating pairing of 3-0 teams. The Huskies appear to be better than the team that won a CIF Division V AA title last December. Downey graduated many players who forged the last two Central California Athletic League championships, yet has quickly reloaded.

“There is a lot of pride in that community (Hughson). We expect a great game,” Downey coach Jeremy Plaa praised during Tuesday’s lunch meeting of the Modesto Quarterback Club. “All five of our non-league opponents were in the playoffs.”

There are a few X factors, such as Downey’s first game away from Chuck Hughes Stadium as well as its first contest on natural grass. Another is an aroused home team that wouldn’t mind adding to the TVL legacy.

 Downey probably won’t have the services of starting quarterback Conner Lamb for the third straight week. Plaa said the talented junior will see a doctor Thursday to check the progress of the fractured knuckle in his right (throwing) hand.

“We hoped to get him back sooner rather than later,” Plaa said.

Until then, the Knights will continue to ride junior Joe Ramirez, the converted wide receiver who continues to dazzle in Lamb’s absence. Last week, he threw three touchdown passes, then clinched Downey’s 42-6 victory over Merced with a 91-yard scoring dash down the middle of the field.

 An unexpected development for Downey has been its scrappy defense. Senior safety Cody Pattee recovered three fumbles before halftime last week.

“Our defense played lights out,” Plaa said. “Our defensive line is one of the best we’ve had in a long time.”

NOTES – Central Catholic (2-1) was greeted by game-long rain last Saturday in Reno but persevered to beat Nevada 2022 state finalist Bishop Manogue 16-7. Brooklyn Cheek recorded six tackles and an interception while two-way lineman Troy Leota sacked the quarterback in the end zone for a safety. It gets no easier for the Raiders, who welcome 2-0 Serra of San Mateo to Patton Field on Friday night. All Serra has done is beat Folsom and De La Salle, the latter 28-0 last week in DLS’s first shutout loss in 44 years. …

Gregori’s home opener against Livermore will include a pregame ceremony honoring the memory of Richard Baroda, an Army veteran and former Gregori JV coach and strength coach who passed away last year. Jaxx Baroda, Richard’s son, returned an interception for a game-changing touchdown during the Jaguars’ 41-23 win last week on the blue turf at Atwater.  … Modesto (1-2) was only seconds away from a victory last week when Stagg converted a tipped ball into a touchdown to win 14-12. “The football gods gave us the ol ‘Not today,’” Panthers coach Dylan Miller said. Modesto travels to Central Valley this week. …

Beyer (0-2) still seeking its first win since the 2020 pandemic, is setting the foundation, according to coach Mike Young. “We have a lot of sophomores and juniors, and we have three levels for the first time since 2018. I don’t have to call both sides of the ball,” Young said. The Patriots journey to West of Tracy on Friday night. … Grace Davis (0-2), which regrouped during a bye last week, meets Bear River Friday night at Downey. Coach Trevor Mew scouted Bear River during its 20-6 win last week over Johansen. The Vikings (2-1) were shut out after a 6-6 tie at halftime. Tek Garcia rushed for 147 yards for Johansen, which is off this week. …

Aiden Muhammad carried for 207 yards and five touchdowns during Enochs’ 52-8 rout of Buhach Colony. Coach Tracey Traub praised the defense for its two fumble recoveries and interception. Enochs will meet East Union (2-1) this week in a game to be played at Manteca High. The track installment and renovation of Cunial Field at EU won’t be completed until late this season. …

 The most surprising fact about Modesto Junior College’s 34-16 season-opening win at Laney was that the game wasn’t close. The annual non-league game usually isn’t decided until the final seconds, but MJC led 31-3 at halftime last week. Luke Weaver, returning after losing almost all of last year to injury, threw two touchdowns passes, Lyon Colon rushed for two touchdowns, Joey Stout caught six passes for 118 yards and a TD and Kainoa Ontai recorded 14 tackles. The Pirates meet Santa Rosa for their home opener Saturday at 1 p.m.