Lots of the area’s top teams hit the road in Week 3.
Central Catholic takes a trip out of state to Reno for a matchup with the No. 6 team in the state, Bishop Manogue. And a week after making a trip to Fresno, Escalon makes a nearly three-hour trip to the Bay Area to take on Windsor. Hughson stays local for its road matchup against much larger school Pitman. Gregori takes its third straight trip to the Merced area for a matchup against 2-0 Atwater.
Downey looks to advance to 3-0 this season in its third straight nonleague home game. The Knights will then hit the road for three straight Friday nights. Johansen has been the surprise of the first two weeks, going 2-0 with a narrow win over Orestimba last week. The Vikings are home this week, looking to remain perfect against Bear River.
Ripon and East Union are a pair of 1-1 teams looking to pick up their second win in the young season.
Hughson (2-0) at Pitman (1-1) at Turlock High, 7 p.m.
Hughson plays the first of two CCAL schools in its preseason Friday when it travels to Turlock High to take on Pitman. The offense was dynamic and the defense was stingy in the first two games against Ceres High and Central Valley. The Huskies will possibly get their best test this week against the Pride, which beat Central Valley in Week 1, 29-7. Hughson enters the weekend with an eight-game win streak dating back to last season. Head coach Shaun King said the goal of this year’s preseason was to schedule tougher, bigger schools to match up with schedules other TVL schools play. If they want to advance to 3-0, they will have to come out strong and cut down on the penalties — two things King said have been key talking points during the early stages of the season.
Escalon (2-0) at Windsor (0-0), 7 p.m.
The road warriors prepare for another long Friday trip. After going down to Fresno last week and knocking off the powerful Buchanan, Escalon goes to the Bay Area to take on Windsor High. The Cougars won an emotional, physical game in Week 2, beating the Bears on a last-second field goal. Head coach Andrew Beam said the team was sore Monday but has worked this week on fleshing out Friday’s win to prepare for yet another tough opponent. Windsor will be a unique test in that it returns 22 seniors who will be hungry for revenge after losing last season. The team also runs a spread style offense, something different than what Escalon saw last week. Through the first two weeks, Josh Graham has been impressive. He is one of the few Cougars who doesn’t play both offense and defense. After minimal carries in his first two varsity seasons, the senior leads the team with 232 rushing yards and has scored a touchdown.
Central Catholic (1-1) at Bishop Manogue (0-1), 7 p.m.
The Raiders are looking to bounce back after a heartbreaking loss to St. Mary’s in the Holy Bowl. After taking a third-quarter lead, Central Catholic was outscored 14-0 in the fourth quarter, resulting in a loss. The Raiders go from playing one of the top teams in California to a top 10 team in Nevada. Bishop Manogue, according to MaxPreps, is the top team in Reno and No. 6 team in Nevada. The Miners are coming off a 30-14 loss to Jesuit of Carmichael last week and will be looking to get back on track in their home opener. The Raiders know they can score, but the key to this team’s success will be its ability to stop their opponents’ big plays. Bishop Manogue receiver and Nevada commit Ben Scolari will likely be a main focus of the Raiders’ defensive gameplan this week.
Gregori (1-1) at Atwater (2-0), 7 p.m.
For Gregori to get back in the win column against Atwater, coach Lamar Wallace knows the defense needs to have a great week against the Falcons’ read option/Wing-T style offense. Despite stopping Merced and scoring first in Week 2, the Jaguars fell 39-27. This week, Gregori gets back a playmaker in receiver/defensive back Reggieon Foster. It has been nearly two full years since Foster stepped on a football field. As a sophomore in 2021, he was the team’s leading receiver with 411 yards and seven touchdowns. He played in eight games before he broke his collarbone. After fully recovering, he tore his ACL the summer before last season and missed the whole year. Wallace said Foster was cleared about two and a half weeks ago and after going through the section-mandated acclimation period can finally suit up Friday night. When he comes back, he will not play every snap right away. Wallace and the coaching staff will ease him back onto the field.
Merced (1-1) at Downey (2-0), 7 p.m.
Joseph Ramirez went from receiver to quarterback last week and threw for two touchdowns and over 260 yards, and Derrick Kirkendall had a pair of rushing scores to lead the Knights over Lodi. The Knights felt good after putting out the Flames not just because they advanced to 2-0 but because they got some revenge after Lodi upset them at home in the first round of the 2021 playoffs. Starting quarterback Carson Lamb injured his finger in Week 1 and went to the doctor Thursday to see if he could get cleared for Friday. While their first two games were won pretty handily, Jeremy Plaa knows going up against Merced will be the challenge they’re looking for early in their nonleague schedule. Merced’s offensive line will be tested Friday, as Plaa said that based on what he has seen on film, the Merced defensive line could be the best they’ve faced this season. Friday’s game is the Knights’ last home game for about a month. After starting the season with three contests at Chuck Hughes Stadium, they hit the road for nonleague games against Hughson and Tracy and their CCAL opener against Pitman.
Bear River (1-0) at Johansen (2-0), 7:15 p.m.
The Vikings start the season 2-0 for the first time since 2019 and all things are positive on the Johansen high campus. While coach Rod Smith said Johansen would pass the ball more this season, when the run game is working, it does not make sense to go away from it. After team rushing totals of 40 carries and 408 yards in Week 1, five Vikings combined for 53 carries, 434 yards and five touchdowns. Bear River is coming off a bye, so Johansen could only game plan off one week of film, but in a 52-0 win over Kennedy, Bear River caused three fumbles and came away with one interception. Smith speaks highly of his team’s offensive line, which features three guards he believes are the best the school has had since 2008, the program’s last playoff appearance.
East Union (1-1) at Ripon (1-1), 7:30 p.m.
Early in the season 2-1 looks a lot better than 1-2 and both Ripon and East Union are chasing their second win. Ripon wants to bounce back from a tough 43-0 shutout road loss to Sonora in which offensive weapon Xzavier Clark gained just five rushing yards and caught two passes for 19 yards. Quarterback Ty Herrin threw for 75 yards and an interception. If Ripon has one thing on its side it’s home field advantage. The team plays in its home opener Friday night. It is the first home game since beating Rosemont last season in the first round of the playoffs. Ripon was 3-3 at home last season. The team will have to stop East Union’s passing attack led by sophomore quarterback Kirk Simoni who completed 14 of 26 passes for 212 yards and found junior receiver Blake Mount for all four of his touchdowns in a 30-14 win over Tennyson. Mount caught five passes for 130 total yards.