Ripon Christian's Sean McGovern, shown here breaking up a pass last fall against Waterford, has been among the most exciting players in the region this season. The do-it-all senior is scoring touchdowns and reeling in interceptions by the bushel. (Wayne Thallander)

Small-School Poll: Are Trans-Valley and Southern league titles on the line Friday?

James Burns

Editor’s note: Comprised of teams from the Central California Athletic Alliance, Mother Lode League, Southern League and Trans-Valley League. Sac-Joaquin Section computer ranking in parenthesis.

1. (1) Escalon (4-0): The Cougars were idle last week. Friday: at Hilmar.

2. (3) Hilmar (5-0): With his predecessor (Treven Crowley) watching, junior quarterback Seth Miguel engineered a 38-27 victory over Ripon with his arm and feet. Miguel had nearly 200 yards of total offense and accounted for four touchdowns in the TVL-opening win. Friday: vs. Escalon.

3. (4) Amador (4-0): The Buffaloes, the only unbeaten team in the Mother Lode League, punctuated their trip to Washington with a 41-0 victory over host Meridian. Amador is on the cusp of breaking into MaxPreps’ state top-100. The Buffaloes are No. 112. Friday: at El Dorado.

4. (2) Ripon (4-1): The Indians suffered three significant injuries that took them out of their TVL opener at Hilmar. Quarterback Nico Ilardi, and two-way standouts Grant Wiebe and Brandon Rainer finished the 38-27 loss on the sideline, bandaged and iced. Friday: at Riverbank.

5. (5) Ripon Christian (3-1): The Knights kicked off their Southern League title defense with a 50-0 shellacking of Waterford, one of the Cinderella programs last fall. Ripon Christian forced five turnovers, including three interceptions, and sacked the Wildcats’ quarterback six times. Friday: vs. Denair.

6. (7) Denair (3-1): The Coyotes defeated Le Grand, 20-12, but penalties and mistakes kept the pesky Bulldogs in the game. After erupting for 20 points in the second quarter, Denair was outscored 12-0 the rest of the way. To beat Ripon Christian and count themselves as a legitimate title contender, the Coyotes must play a complete game. Friday: at Ripon Christian.

7. (8) Calaveras (2-2): Nolan Dart had little impact on the game as a quarterback, but his work on the defensive side of the ball helped Calaveras carve out a 21-19 win at Bradshaw Christian. According to The Calaveras Enterprise, Dart had two interceptions, including a pick-6 in the first half. Friday: vs. Stellar Prep.

8. (10) Livingston (4-1): Sophomore quarterback Rocklin Baptista threw five touchdowns, including two to favorite target Cooper Winton, who finished with 242 yards on nine receptions. The Wolves, the Yogurt Mill Team of the Week, have won four of their first five games and their only loss is to a large-school program. Friday: idle.

9. (6) Hughson (2-3): These are desperate times for the Huskies, who will need to knock off another of the Trans-Valley League’s bluebloods -- Escalon, Hilmar or Ripon -- to become playoff eligible. A forfeit loss to Stagg and last week’s defeat to fast-rising Livingston have punched holes in Hughson’s playoff hopes. Friday: at Modesto Christian.

10. (9) Orestimba (2-2): The Warriors’ offensive woes contributed to a 7-6 loss at Mariposa in their Southern League opener, but the veteran-laden defense has been outstanding -- and a big reason why the Warriors remain a top-10 team. The defense hasn’t allowed a point in two games this fall, including the loss to Mariposa (whose only score came on a pick-6 on the third play of the game). Friday: vs. Le Grand.