High school football games to watch: Escalon, Oakdale prepare for Top 10 matchup

League play has arrived in the Western Athletic Conference. Davis searches for its first win this season in a road contest against Mountain House. Other Stanislaus District WAC league openers include Johansen at Pacheco, Ceres at Lathrop and Los Banos at Beyer.

In nonleague action, Downey travels for the second time this season. The No. 10 team in the Sac-Joaquin Section according to MaxPreps visits the section’s No. 24 team, Tracy. The Knights will have to find ways to defend the Bulldogs’ elaborate run schemes. Pitman hopes to recover from a three-game skid on the road at Hilmar, which beat Atwater in a nail-biter last season.

Arguably the matchup of the weekend is a Stanislaus District Top 10 showdown between a pair of run-first programs. Though they won’t have to travel over two hours this week, Escalon’s road journey continues at Oakdale. The Mustangs and first-year coach Garrett Martin are unbeaten after blowing out Sheldon last week. The Cougars are looking to bounce back after losing to California High of San Ramon in Week 4.

Davis (0-3) at Mountain House (1-2), 7 p.m.

Davis first-year coach Trevor Mew is happy with the team’s effort, saying his players are doing the right things. Mew also emphasized the need to eliminate mistakes. Against Bear River in Week 4, the Spartans showed fight. After falling down 17-0, they cut it to a 17-13 game by halftime. They will hope for a faster start in their Western Athletic Conference opener against Mountain House. Mew is preparing his team for the Mustangs’ combination of speed on the outside and size on the line. Mountain House’s record may be deceiving. After beating McNair, its most recent games were losses to two-time Central California Conference champion Patterson and last season’s Tri-City Athletic League’s second-place finisher, Tracy.

Pitman (1-3) at Hilmar (2-2), 7 p.m.

The Pride won their first game 29-7 over Central Valley but have dropped their last three contests. After showing great promise on offense in their first matchups, Pitman hasn’t scored above 24 points in its three losses. This week in their final nonleague game, the Pride look to turn around their season against reigning TVL champion Hilmar. The Yellowjackets once again are led by Caden Bailey, who scored their only touchdown in a narrow 8-7 win over Atwater last week. Bailey, a junior, and senior Logan Cardoso have combined for 859 of the team’s 915 rushing yards and have scored all eight touchdowns. Again, Hilmar will look to benefit from its home crowd, hosting its third straight game. A win Friday night will lift the Yellowjackets above .500 on the season and give them a 2-1 record in the recent homestand.

Escalon (3-1) at Oakdale (3-0), 7 p.m.

Escalon is looking to bounce back from its first loss this season. After averaging more than two hours per road trip over their first four contests, the Cougars will likely welcome a 15-minute drive down the road for their final matchup before starting Trans-Valley League play. While quarterback Donovan Rozevink is capable of getting guys on the outside involved through the passing game, Escalon is a run-first operation. Friday night’s matchup will be a battle of the Wing-T’s. Josh Graham’s 547 yards and five touchdowns lead the Cougars’ rushing attack.

Garrett Martin is feeling more comfortable with everything that comes with being a head coach but will admit that he’s still adjusting to calling offense after being the Mustangs’ defensive coordinator the past few seasons. Even still, Oakdale enters Week 5 at 3-0. While the noise around this week’s matchup with 4-AA state champion Escalon is that this will be a chance to see where this year’s team stands heading into league play, Martin doesn’t like putting that much pressure on one game out of a 10-game season. The Mustangs know the test Escalon poses with its experienced quarterback and a group of running backs that picked up right where last season’s group left off, but if leading rusher Wes Burford, quarterback Tommy Chance, defensive end Gavin Gleason and Jacob Kindrick continue their strong play, they have a shot.

Stone Ridge Christian (4-0) at Modesto Christian (2-1), 7 p.m.

After three straight road games and a bye, Modesto Christian finally has a home game and it’s going to be a good one. First, the Crusaders are hosting a “Concert in the Country” before the game from 4 to 6 p.m. After that, the Ross Widemon-Jeremiah Bernard show starts. The quarterback-receiver duo have combined for 462 yards and eight touchdowns on 16 receptions. Bernard, a Cal Poly commit, opened the season with a four-reception, four-touchdown game and has been the main contributor to the Crusaders’ offense since. In his first season as the full-time starting quarterback, Widemon has continued to improve. He has thrown 11 total touchdowns to just four interceptions and is the team’s leading rusher with 117 yards and a score. They will have to be at their best Friday against unbeaten Stone Ridge and its stingy defense, which has allowed just 33 points on the season. In their last two wins, they allowed a total of six points. Offensively, the Knights average 44 points a game.

Downey (4-0) at Tracy (3-0), 7 p.m.

The Knights’ schedule doesn’t get any easier as they play their second straight road game against an undefeated team. Last week, they narrowly escaped Hughson with a six-point victory, proving they can win both clean, error-free games and they can do just what is necessary to squeak out a victory. Downey’s defensive line has been great all year and will have to combine its football IQ with its power and speed this week against Tracy’s elaborate run schemes. Downey knows Tracy is fast and physical. The Bulldogs have more than three times more rushing yards than passing yards and haven’t thrown for a touchdown but rushed for 14 scores at about the midway point of the season. Against Hughson, Zeke Toledo came up with four big second-half pass deflections to keep Hughson scoreless. Last season, the Knights won 24-13, beating a Tracy team that went on to finish second in the Tri-City Athletic League. In the prior three matchups with Tracy since 2006, Downey is 2-1. This is a matchup between two teams in the Sac-Joaquin Section Top 25 as Downey is the No. 10 team and Tracy No. 24 according to MaxPreps.

Tokay (3-1) at Gregori (3-1), 7:15 p.m.

The Jaguars beat Livermore last week in an emotional evening as they honored former coach Richard Baroda, an Army veteran who passed away last year before the game. They put together a complete performance as Michael Marsden rushed for three touchdowns and they forced a fumble, blocked a field goal and came away with eight tackles for loss. Jaxx Baroda, Richard Baroda’s son, had a second-half interception — his second in as many weeks. This week, that defense will need to have another strong showing against Tokay and its high-scoring offense. The Tigers shut out their first two opponents, beating Chavez 39-0 and Bear Creek 63-0. Tokay is averaging 46 points a game so far this season. Baroda, Trey Webb, Isaac Vasquez and the Gregori secondary will have to limit receivers Jeremiah Rodriguez (178 yards, 3 TD) and Lino Ruiz (71 yards, 2 TD) if the Jaguars are to advance to 4-1 overall and 2-0 at home.