These are all five Big Valley Christian seniors. Front row from left: Ben Wall and Jordan Banana. Back row from left: Kayden Spears, Mason Baker and Mason Cheek.

QB Club + expanded rankings: Reeling Raiders return home for VOL opener

Ron Agostini

MODESTO – The preseason is over, and that’s the best thing that has happened to the Central Catholic High Raiders.

They’re battered, humbled but defiant as they prepare to defend their Valley Oak League championship beginning Friday night at home against East Union.

Central Catholic (1-4), which took on the toughest preseason schedule in school history, absorbed its most lopsided loss last week. Yet its 65-0 thumping at St. John Bosco of Bellflower, the nation’s No. 1-ranked team according to, left the Raiders determined to show their stuff closer to home.

“The worst thing people can think,” CC coach Roger Canepa warned Monday, “is that we’re not very good.”

Only the uninformed will underestimate a program that won the VOL and the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II titles and reached the CIF D-2 AA state final last fall. Losses to St. Mary’s, St. Francis of Mountain View, Serra of San Mateo and Bosco cannot dim the proud Central Catholic pedigree.

“If you want to win the VOL and section, you’ve gotta play some teams,” Canepa said. “We challenged ourselves. You can’t get more tested than that.”

The Raiders no doubt will be relieved to finally see some daylight on their schedule. The VOL, for all its reputation as one of the state’s best medium-sized leagues, does not pack the punch of a Bosco.

Central Catholic trailed 34-0 after the first quarter, gave up six touchdown passes, and muffed the only punt it forced. Its longest run from scrimmage measured only eight yards. The Raiders were out-matched.

“They’re the real deal,” Canepa said. “Their coach (Jason Negro) said after the game, ‘This is the best team we’ve ever had.’ And this is a program that has won two national titles.”

While Bosco gears for its showdown in two weeks against No. 2 Mater Dei, the Raiders prepare for East Union (3-2), which was pummeled by Lincoln of Stockton 61-22 last week. It will be only the second home game for CC.

“Our state of mind is good,” Canepa said. “You just try to get better in the preseason. Now everybody is 0-0.”

BIG VALLEY – Monday’s Modesto Quarterback Club lunch meeting welcomed Big Valley Christian as its featured team. All five of its seniors --  Kayden Spears, Mason Baker, Mason Cheek, Ben Wall and Jordan Banana – attended, along with coach Brian Berkefeld and the Lions principal Melissa Maher. BVC (1-3) was beaten by Delta of Clarksburg 20-6 last week. The game got away from the Lions after they marched for an opening touchdown that took 9 ½ minutes off the first-quarter clock.

They welcome Hamilton (3-1), a school 10 miles west of Chico, Saturday at 4 p.m. Trivia: Arguably the most famous Hamilton graduate is pitcher Kyle Lohse, whose long career peaked with his contribution to the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals in 2011.

NOTES – Modesto Christian lineman Manasse Itete (6-foot-6, 270) has received several FBS scholarship offers. One of them has come from Vanderbilt, and MC coach Jerry Grimshaw said the Commodores’ offensive line coach A.J. Blazek was scheduled to be on campus Monday. The  Crusaders (5-1, 1-1) continue Trans Valley League action Thursday night at home against Hughson. MC shut out Riverbank 36-0 on homecoming last week, thanks in part to Raymond Corral Jr.’s 140 rushing yards and three touchdowns. …

Gregori (1-4) cut a 21-0 halftime deficit to 21-14 before falling 42-20 to unbeaten Lodi last week at the Grape Bowl. Michael Marsden rushed for 184 yards and two touchdowns for the Jaguars, who meet Enochs (2-3) on Friday night at Downey in the Central California Athletic League opener for both teams. … Downey 5-0) will begin the defense of its CCAL title against Modesto (2-3) at Gregori. The Knights (5-0), who had a bye last week, should be stronger on defense with the return of ends Jack Hinchey and Derrick Kirkendall. Both were injured during the season-opening win over Lincoln. … Modesto completed its 59-27 loss at Sierra last Monday. The game on the scheduled date was stopped late in the first half as fans and students raced out of the Sierra stadium after an alleged gun sighting. …

Johansen (0-5, 0-2) allowed only two field goals after halftime during a 20-6 loss at Mountain House. The Vikings again will pursue their first win Friday night at home against Western Athletic Conference affiliate Ceres. … Grace Davis (2-3, 1-1), the defending WAC champion, gave up three game-deciding plays during its 32-17 loss to Los Banos. Coach Tim Garcia praised junior Jackson Brooks, who played through an injury to kick a field goal and score a touchdown. The Spartans bus to Pacheco on Friday night. … Beyer (0-5, 0-2) has entertained its fans with the play of twins Brock and Blake Gross. Both starred during the Patriots’ 36-14 loss to Ceres. Brock weaved through the Bulldogs’ defense on an 85-yard touchdown dash, and striding next to him into the end zone was Blake. Beyer is on the road at Lathrop.  …

Modesto Junior College’s slow start continued in a 49-14 loss at home to powerful Butte (3-1). The Pirates (1-3), who lost starting quarterback Luke Weaver for the season at San Mateo two weeks ago, entrusted its offense to QBs Cruz Marines and former grayshirt Keith Orona against Butte. Marcus Ordunez, Weaver’s backup when the season began, also was injured at San Mateo.  American River, also 1-3, will welcome MJC on Saturday afternoon.

Large school

1. Manteca 4-0 (bye, at Kimball)

2. Downey 5-0 (bye, at Modesto)

3. Oakdale 4-1 (d. Enochs 51-7, home vs. Sierra)

4. Central Catholic 1-4 (lost to St. John Bosco 65-0, home vs. East Union)

5. Tracy 4-1 (bye, at Lincoln)

6. Patterson 5-1 (d. Merced 24-21, at Atwater)

7. Turlock 2-3 (bye, at Pitman)

8. Kimball 3-2 (bye, home vs. Manteca)

9. Golden Valley 5-0 (d. Sierra 44-21, at Central Valley)

10. Merced 2-4 (lost to Patterson 24-21, at El Capitan)

Small school

1. Sonora 4-1 (bye, home vs. Calaveras)

2. Summerville 5-0 (d. Stone Ridge Christian 34-26, Amador game canceled)

3. Tie, Hughson 5-1 (d. Livingston 41-20, at Modesto Christian)

3. Tie, Escalon 3-2 (bye, at Hilmar)

5. Hilmar 3-3 (d. Ripon 34-14, home vs. Escalon)

6. Orestimba 4-1 (d. Ripon Christian 21-7, at Mariposa County)

7. Mariposa County 5-0 (d. Delhi 7-0, home vs. Orestimba)

8. Ripon 3-3 (lost to Hilmar 34-14, at Riverbank)

9. Ripon Christian 3-2 (lost to Orestimba 21-7, at Waterford)

10. Le Grand 4-1 (d. Waterford 49-35, at Denair)