TURLOCK Any concerns regarding the inexperience of Oakdale and Turlock, teams counting on underclassmen, were dealt with a week ago.
Oakdale crushed defending state Division 4 champ Modesto Christian 56-20, while Turlock got past Downey 33-20.
Those wins not only moved both up in The Bee rankings, they set up tonight's battle between the longtime rivals with No. 4 Oakdale (1-0) visiting No. 7 Turlock (1-0) at renovated Joe Debely Stadium.
Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m., and it will be broadcast on KEFC 100.5 FM in Turlock and kefc.net.
The slick artificial field got rave reviews following its debut last week, as players said it allowed them to plant and cut better than on grass.
While much of the news has focused on Oakdale's promotion of five sophomores to varsity, it was senior A.C. Brown who got MC's attention. His two bruising TD runs helped Oakdale to 49 straight points.
That took some of the pressure off sophomore QB Spencer Thomas, but Turlock will present more of a physical obstacle than the Crusaders.
Turlock was a woeful 0-10 a year ago, but the Bulldogs believe a roster infused with talent from a 10-0 JV team can carry them into the playoffs.
It's a player who didn't suit up last year, though, who could be the key for Turlock.
Ricky Fuentes broke his leg before the 2009 season, but returned for Week 1 of this season and ran for 170 yards and a TD on nine carries. He also scored on a 48-yard reception.
"Fuentes is outstanding! He plays at a different speed on Friday night," Turlock coach James Peterson said. "I did not realize just how special he was until we played Downey."