Five members of the Johansen High Vikings: Front, from left: Tek Garcia and Alex Vuittonet. Back: Robbie Buantello, Samuel Vasquez and Anthony Alves. (Ron Agostini)

QB Club: Johansen Vikings seek improvement, win opener for first time in four years

Ron Agostini

Five members of the Johansen High Vikings, the special guests at the season’s first Modesto Quarterback Club lunch meeting, appeared to be in good spirits.

They should be happy. Their 46-12 victory last week over Modesto accounted for the Vikings’ first season-opening win since 2019, the last time the program enjoyed a winning season.

“Our slogan is ‘No excuses,’” coach Rod Smith said. “We’re going to ride with that all year.”

It’s not easy to win at Johansen, which owns only four victories the last two years. But there are favorable signs: A new weight room, and the reinstallment of a freshman football team for the first time in 12 years.

The Vikings built their momentum last week on the shoulders of running back Tek Garcia, who dented the Modesto defense for 215 yards and two touchdowns. That was a large chunk of Johansen’s 415 yards on the ground, while 6-foot-3 quarterback Joe Carranza threw for two touchdowns.

“We plan on throwing the ball a little more than last year,” Smith said, in reference to Johansen’s 1-9 season.

Not all the news was favorable. Senior running back Aeric Amerel was lost for the season due to a fractured ankle incurred early in the game.

Johansen will be satisfied to go one step forward at a time. The Vikings will welcome 1-0 Orestimba to Dan Gonsalves Stadium on Friday night.

LAMB – The list of quarterbacks at Downey reads like a decade-long honor roll:  Aaron Zwahlen, P.J. Wilson, Brett Neves, Bryce Peterson, Bryce Gouker and Conner Stoddard. All prolific, all successful in the Knights’ thrill-a-minute offense.

 It looks like there soon might be an addition to that list. Carson Lamb, a junior, made his first varsity start memorable – 293 passing yards and five touchdowns, plus a TD on the ground during Downey’s 50-33win over Lincoln of Stockton.

Lamb’s accurate arm and lively feet were noticed during Downey’s preseason scrimmage, and he carried those attributes into opening night. The Knights put 43 points on the scoreboard before halftime to hold off a performance by Lincoln’s next-level running back Jordin Thomas (230 yards, 4T Ds). Lamb and Joseph Ramirez connected for two touchdowns.

“(Lamb) is the next in line,” coach Jeremy Plaa predicted.“His accuracy was special.”

Downey meets Lodi (0-1 )in the second of three straight home games.

NOTES – Enochs’ 28-0 win over Beyer was the Eagles’ fifth straight in the Sylvan Bowl series. Aiden Muhammad rushed for 150 yards for a ground game that produced three touchdowns. The defense yielded only 164 yards. Enochs takes on Liberty of Brentwood (the season opener for Liberty) Thursday night at Johansen. … Gregori’s defense, anchored by Marcus Sims, allowed only three points during its 40-9 win at Buhach Colony.  The Jaguars will travel to 0-1 Merced. …Central Catholic at St. Mary’s no doubt is one of this week’s featured games. Other than some sloppy penalties, the Raiders looked good during their 42-12 thrashing of Merced, while the Rams belted Clovis West 38-28. …

There will be playoffs to cap the inaugural girls flag football season. Will De Board, the assistant commissioner of the Sac-Joaquin Section, said 30 teams – split into two divisions – will qualify. … Modesto Junior College, seeking a third straight Valley Conference title and another trip to the NorCal playoffs, prepare for the season Wednesday with a scrimmage at City College of San Francisco. The Pirates, ranked 15th nationally by JCGridiron, will open Friday night, Sept. 1, at Laney. In a switch, MJC’s home games will begin this season at 1 p.m. …

Modesto's chances against Johansen melted on two turnovers deep in Johansen territory. The Panthers, another program boosted this season by the return of freshman football, will bus to El Capitan this week. ...The public is invited to attend the QB Club meetings. Lunch costs $15 at Denny’s on McHenry Avenue near Doctors Medical Center.  Modesto Christian will be honored next Monday at noon.