Modesto, the QB Club’s guests of the week, brought seniors Eli McCabe, Heston Blom, Garrett Bidwell, Veer Kantilal and Julian Luna on Oct. 3, 2022.

QB Club + expanded rankings: Turlock welcomes Downey, reigning CCAL kings

Ron Agostini

MODESTO – The Downey High Knights and the Turlock Bulldogs have sped on a collision course all season. The collision happens Friday night.

The Central California Athletic League’s best teams will meet at Turlock’s Joe Debely Stadium, and the 2022 title probably will go to the victor. This just in: Both teams want the game bad.

“It’s going to be an epic matchup,” Downey coach Jeremy Plaa said at Monday’s lunch meeting of the Modesto Quarterback Club. “We throw it well. They run it well. …This is the one we have circled on the calendar.”

Adding to the showdown is the top form shown recently by both Downey and Turlock.

The Knights (6-0, 1-0) ran away from Modesto 76-8 last week, as senior quarterback Conner Stoddard (1,676 passing yards, 19 touchdowns, 2 interceptions)  orchestrated another lethal Downey passing attack.  Downey has added another important ingredient – a productive running back in Kimoni Ragland – this fall.

‘If we can play our coverage and also offer run support, that will be important for us,” Turlock coach James Peterson in a phone interview Monday. “Downey has been able to run the ball late in games this year.”

Turlock (3-3, 1-0) has improved during a non-league schedule more rigorous than Downey’s. Last week, the Bulldogs dominated Pitman  57-14 for their ninth straight victory in the Harvest Bowl.  Their defense has been strengthened the last three games by running back J.T. Foreman (554 yards, four TDs) now at safety. On offense, quarterback Cole Gilbert throws to 6-foot-2 Joshua Weatherbee, who’s caught four scoring passes.

“Foreman is running at his best right now. He makes our defense better,” Peterson said.

Downey defeated Turlock 38-14 in 2021 to set up the Knights’ CCAL title. The rematch should be special.

“Playing Merced and Tracy will help us. They challenged us to run the ball,” Plaa said. “This is the healthiest we’ve been all season.”

PANTHERS – Modesto, the QB club’s guests of the week, brought seniors Eli McCabe, Heston Blom, Garrett Bidwell, Veer Kantilal and Julian Luna. The Panthers (2-4, 0-1 CCAL) also sparked the meeting’s largest attendance this season. Also there was QB club regular Warren Beckwith (Class of 1956), arguably the No. 1 Panther fan.  The Panthers travel to Gregori Friday night.

NOTES – Gregori (2-4, 1-0 CCAL) and Enochs exchanged the lead nine times before the Jaguars survived in overtime 36-30 last week. Grant Veneman (222 passing yards, 3 TDs, 1 rushing TD) connected with Ayden Powers for the tying TD with 13 seconds left in regulation, and an interception by Landon Gutierrez in OT set up the win.  Aiden Muhammad (28 carries, 293 yards, 3 TDs) starred for Enochs, which welcomes Pitman on Friday night. …

Modesto Junior College’s bye this week is well-timed. The Pirates (1-4) were beaten 29-28 at American River when Nathan Valdez pulled a 27-yard field goal try as the clock ticked to zero. Keith Orona, MJC’s fourth quarterback this season, marched the Pirates down the field before the heartbreaking finish. MJC will begin the defense of its Valley Conference co-title on Oct. 15 against Sacramento. … Grace Davis (2-4, 1-2 in Western Athletic Conference) trailed only 6-0 at halftime before they slumped to a 28-0 loss to Pacheco. The Spartans will travel to Lathrop. …

Central Catholic (2-4, 1-0 Valley Oak League) trailed 7-0, then romped past East Union 62-13. Tyler Jacklich rushed for 250 yards before halftime, and Brooklyn Cheek and Trace Hernandez caught two touchdown passes apiece from Tyler Wentworth. The Raiders bus to Kimball of Tracy as they enter the critical stretch of the VOL season. …

Modesto Christian coach Jerry Grimshaw said receiver Jeremiah Bernard (884 yards, 9 TDs) is starting to get attention from collegiate scouts. He couldn’t save the Crusaders, however, after they yielded two early pick-6 touchdowns during their 48-12 Trans-Valley League loss to Hughson. Up next for MC (5-2, 1-2) is a trip Thursday night to meet an Escalon team in a foul mood after losses to Hughson and Hilmar. …

It’s not getting any easier for Johansen (0-6, 0-3 WAC), which goes to 4-2 Los Banos. The Vikings were overpowered last week by Ceres 40-6, though they trailed only 12-0 at the half. … Big Valley Christian (1-4), the 2021 Central California Athletic Alliance League champion, starts the conference season Friday night on the road against Millennium. The game will be played at West High.  The Lions couldn’t match up with Hamilton, from the Chico area, during a 54-22 loss last week. Sophomore  Matthew Strandwold brought BVC fans to their feet with an interception and touchdown return.      

Large school

1. Manteca 5-0 (d. Kimball, 55-19, home vs. Sierra)

2. Downey 6-0 (d. Modesto 76-8, at Turlock)

3. Oakdale 5-1 (d. Sierra 56-16, at East Union)

4. Central Catholic 2-4 (d. East Union 62-13, at Kimball)

5. Tracy 5-1 (d. Lincoln 40-34, home vs. Tokay)

6. Patterson 6-1 (d. Atwater 63-29, home vs. Central Valley)

7. Turlock 3-3 (d. Pitman 57-14, home vs. Downey)

8. Golden Valley 6-0 (d. Central Valley 56-22, home vs. Atwater)

9. Merced 3-4 (d. El Capitan 62-6, at Buhach Colony)

10. Kimball 3-3 (lost to Manteca 55-19, home vs. Central Catholic)

Small school

1. Sonora 5-1 (d. Calaveras 43-0, at Argonaut)

2. Summerville 5-0 (Amador game canceled, at Bret Harte)

3. Hughson 6-1 (d. Modesto Christian 48-12, at Riverbank)

4. Hilmar 4-3 (d. Escalon 21-20, bye)

5. Escalon 3-3 (lost to Hilmar 21-20, home vs. Modesto Christian)

6. Orestimba 5-1 (d. Mariposa County 49-0, home vs. Delhi)

7. Ripon 4-2 (d. Riverbank 48-0, home vs. Livingston)

8. Ripon Christian 4-2 (d. Waterford 56-27, home vs. Le Grand)

9. Le Grand 5-1 (d. Denair 42-7, at Ripon Christian)

10. Mariposa County 5-1 (lost to Orestimba 49-0, at Denair)