Much of the early preseason talk surrounding the new Central California Athletic Leage focussed primarily upon Turlock and Pitman, two refugees from the Central California Conference, and Downey and Gregori, ear's top teams from the now-defunct Modesto Metro Conference.
Now, Modesto High has to be part of any conversation regarding the CCAL, as the Panthers inserted themselves into the fray with a gritty, albeit sloppy, 47-40 victory over Patterson on Friday night at Patteson Coummunity Stadium.
"We're proud of the guys, but we've got a lot of work to do," said second-year Modesto head coach Brett Wagner. "The league's not going to be a joke. We've got a lot of work to do."
Modesto consistently gashed Patteson's defense with a strong running game, spearheaded by three-year varstity starter Zaire Eugene. The 5-10, 190-pound senior rushed for 129 yards and three scores -- he had a 76-yard TD run nullified by penalty -- before he began cramping up in the fourth quarter. James Hayes finished with 83 yards rushing and Daeveon Graves had 124 yards, 94 of those yards coming on one thrilling, touchdown run. Graves also scored on an 86-yard pick-six and then caught a TD pass on a key fourth-and-goal fron inside Patterson's 10-yard line.We knew we had to do a better job of gang-tackling," said Patterson head coach Rob Cozart, whose club falls to 2-2 heading into league play.
"We tried as hard as we could and there was just so many we had guys there in position, but you gotta catch them. They run hard. They run hard and they run angry, and that's what you want out of a running back."
It was Graves' fourth-down score that help Modesto get back on track after nearly blowing a 20-point lead.
Up 34-14 with just seconds left in the first half, Patterson head coach Rob Cozart sent out kicker Adrian Melesio to attempt a 54-yard fied goal. The sohomore's kick probably would've been good from 60 yards out, as the Tigers cut the margin to 34-17 as the horn blew to end the first half.
"We went into the locker room and we were talking," said Eugene, who battled cramps much of the second half. "We knew they were going to come out strong, come out hard."
Patterson then scored on its first possession of the second half on a 1-yard blast by Javier Alvarado to make it 34-24, then narrowed the margin to three when Miguel Alvarez scored on a 29-yard interception return to make it 34-31 with 7:47 remaining in the third quarter.
"I didn't know they were going to come out that hard,but they did," said Eugene, but they did. "So we had to rise to the occasion."
But the Panthers countered with a nice drive that nearly stalled in the red zone, but once again made it a two-score game when Graves hauled in the short TD pass from Alonzo Rodriguez.
"Those momentum swings are crazy, but obviously that was big, to give our defense a little more confidence," said Wagner. "We had a lot of issues with some of the interior line, we had some guys that were sitting out for some discipline things. So, we didn't even really have two of starting D-linemen and starting offensive lineman and we had to pick up the pieces and that's a testament to this team that there were guys that were able to do that."
Patterson opens CCC play next week against Buhach Colony at Dave Honey Stadium in Atwater, while Modesto will travel to Stockton to take on Franklin in a non-conference matchup.
Enochs 28, Central Valley 22, at Ceres -- Eagles quarterback Ben Harless hit Kameron Myers on a 20-yard touchdown pass to give the Eagles a 28-22 victory over the Hawks on the game's final play. Central Valley's Isaiah Hidalgo opened the fourth-quarter scoring with a 55-yard touchdown run to give the Hawks a 22-8 lead. But Enochs stormed back with 20 unanswered points. Quarterback Ben Harless scored on a 4-yard run, then hooked up with Myeers again, this time on a 5-yard scoring strike. Harless' two-point conversion knotted the game 22-22.
With four seconds remaining and the ball on the 20 and having lost their kicker the week before to injury, the Eagles were in no positioin to attempt a 37-yard field goal.
"It was the end zone or nothing," said Enochs head coach James Stacy. "And our quarterback put up a nice ball just that the receiver caught just as he was falling into the end zone."
Central Valley was heading in for what would've been a dagger touchdown, but fumbled near the 10-yard line and Enochs recovered on the 5. The Eagles marched 95 yards and capped the drive on Harless' TD run. Harless had three TD passes in the contest.
Hidalgo also hauled in a 43-yard touchdown strike from Andrew Hernadez, which game the Hawks a 7-0 first-quarter lead.
Pitman 33, Bullard 27 , at Turlock -- Wiht the Knights inside the red zone and poised to score a nail-in-the-coffin touchdown, Chris Avalos came up with a quarterback sack on fourthd down, to set up the game-winnig, 87-yard scroing strike from Treyton Fair to Denzel Steckron Friday at Joe Debely Stadium.
The Pride remained undefeated after the see-saw battle with Bullard. Pitman raced out to a 20-7 lead, with Payton Bass scoring on a pair of tosses from quarterback Treyton Fair, and Jakob Partida running in from 52 yards out during the span. But Bullard took advantage of a Pride fumble and cashed in for a 21-20 lead just before halftime. Pitman regained the lead Fair's 61-yard TD pass to Partida with 2:11 to play in the third quarter, only to see Bullard regain the advantage minutes later.
Sheldon 41, Turlock 28, at Sacramento -- The Bulldogs (2-2) trailed 21-0 at the half, cut the lead to a single touchdown on three different occasions, but couldn't catch Huskies (3-1). Lucas Curtis had scoring runs of 10 and 3 yards, while quarterback Jonah Kosakiewicz twice hooked up with Cameron Sherwood on scoring strikes.
Things don't get any easier for the Bulldogs, who travel to Fresno on Friday to take on undefeated Central, ranked No. 12 in the state by Cal-Hi Sports, and 19th statewide by MaxPreps.
Gregori 48, McNair 19, at Modesto -- The Jaguars evened their record with a convincing win over the Eagles. It was the second consecutive blowout for Gregori, who defeated Beyer 49-0 last week for its first victory of the year after falling to Central California Conference members Buhach Colony and Merced to open season. Gregori rushed for 430 yards, with sophomore Isaac Herman carrying the ball 22 times for 195 yards and three scores. Titus Thiney had 16 totes for 130 and a TD. Marcello Longstretch had five carries for 55 yards. while twin brother Tre Longstreth had a 31-yard pick-six.
Downey 82, Johansen 6, at Modesto -- The Knights rolled against the undermanned Vikings, with freshman quarterback Beau Green throwing four touchdown passes before taking a seat at halftime with the game out of hand.