MODESTO -- Oakdale and Central Catholic opened the season ranked No. 1 in The Bee's large- and small-school rankings, but formidable foes and some early struggles knocked both legendary schools from their spots.
When The Bee reveals its Stanislaus District rankings Wednesday, Oakdale and Central Catholic will be on top again. There's no other option, not after the way the two tore into foes in league openers.
Oakdale, its confidence shaken a few weeks ago when it trailed 35-0 to Oceanside at halftime, was as dominant as ever while routing Sierra 49-7 and Anthony Cota.
Central, which gave up 45 points a week ago and had been faltering in fourth quarters, scored the last 21 points to beat Los Banos 35-14.
The victories make them No. 1 in the polls and league favorites.
We place a lot of value on teams that challenges themselves on the field, which explains why Pitman will remain No. 2. The Pride is 5-0 and pounding everyone it plays, and has a wealth of talented kids.
We'll all find out how potent the Pride is in two weeks, when it's at 3-2 Buhach Colony. BC has lost to Clovis North (5-0) and Serra (3-0).
SHARP CLAWS Waterford's Wildcats are determined to give SL kingpin Le Grand a fight this fall. Junior Dylan Gonzalez's six TDs, including an 85-yard kickoff return, keyed a 61-20 rout of Delhi.
Waterford (3-1), which lost to 3-1 Hughson, led 54-0 before Delhi got on the board with three TDs from Garrett Thomas to Joel Cantu.
The 'Cats visit Gustine Friday and host Le Grand a week later.
SEEING RED Gustine's had its share of struggles since Jeremy Plaa led the Redskins to a section final a decade ago, but the 'Skins were smiling Friday after a 15-10 victory over Turlock Christian.
Marcus Rocha's 1-yard run put Gustine up early, but it was Josh Bettencourt's 13-yard toss to Matt Veilleux and Isiah Figueroa's run for two points that sealed the win.
The Redskins got a break in the third quarter while punting from the end zone: TC blocked the kick, but the ball bounced out of bounds for a safety rather than staying in the end zone for a potential TD.
DOWNS IS UP Turlock raised its record 3-2 behind junior QB Shawn Downs, whose versatility continues to trouble defenses. He hit on 70 percent of his passes (14 of 20) for 222 yards and four TDs in a 54-35 win over Davis the 'Dogs last game before CCC play.
Downs had just eight TD passes total in his first 14 varsity games, and added to his impact with 58 yards on two TDs on the ground.
The biggest game of his career arrives in two weeks, when his 'Dogs host Merced. Both are 3-2 and the winner's in great shape to make the playoffs. The loser faces a long road and would likely need to beat Atwater (3-1) and Golden Valley (3-2) to have a shot.
FIVE OR MORE? Just how many playoff teams might come from the TVL? Four for sure, perhaps five and maybe even a six-pack?
It's looking that way after Modesto Christian's victory over Hilmar, with those two likely joining Orestimba, Escalon and Ripon in the postseason. Six wins, with being league wins, assures a team of a postseason invitation.
A 5-5 record will get you in, too, if you had a respectable schedule.
Before they start worrying about playoff seedings, these teams want to win a league title. The league's two legendary programs start the TVL 0-1 Escalon losing to Ripon and Hilmar to Modesto Christian.
Escalon will be heavily favored at Hughson this week, but Hilmar has unbeaten Orestimba (5-0). The last time Orestimba beat Hilmar?
The folks in Newman will track down an answer this week, just in case. It's been a while: Orestimba had a two-decade playoff drought before snapping that run in 2010.
Hilmar can count on seeing a lot of Steven Machado, a junior back who ran for 317 yards in Friday's win. He remains the top rusher in the section with his 1,155 yards.
FRIDAY'S THRILLS A 9-yard TD pass from Jesse Roberson to Joey Brocchini with 10 seconds to play lifted Summerville to a 35-34 win over Hughson in a battle of previously unbeaten teams.
Tanner Duron (209 yards, 3 TDs) rallied Hughson with TD runs of 67, 8 and 30 yards after the Bears jumped to a 28-7 lead. His last TD and Kyle Kerlee's two-point run put Hughson up 34-28, but Duron got hurt late and Roberson led the Bears on the last-minute drive. ...
Golden Valley surrendered a TD run with 29 seconds to play, but it turned back the two-point run for a 22-20 win over McNair giving the Eagles their first loss. McNair had stopped QB Ridge Bertuccio on fourth down to get the ball. ...
Bradley Clark caught a 34-yard TD on fourth down in the final minute, then Ripon stopped a late drive to upset Escalon 35-34 the Indians first win over their rival in 16 years. Inside 'backers Troy Burth and Tyler Swortfiguer were crucial on defense, while junior Michael Ysit (the No. 3 receiver) had TD catches of 80 and 58 yards.
LANDMARK WIN Mariposa and Le Grand are the measuring sticks for SL teams. You need to beat at least one of those two if you want the league's respect.
Ripon Christian did that Friday, scoring the first 35 points on the way to a 35-14 win over Mariposa. Andrew Brown had TD runs of 22 and 48 yards, and had a TD catch. Clayton Bankers also had two TD catches and two sacks for RC.
The Knights are heavy favorites the next three weeks, then get Waterford and Le Grand two of the final three weeks of the year.
ONE & COUNTING There are no more winless programs in the district, after Gregori rallied past Modesto 20-17 on Nate Phillips' 36-yard TD toss to Alex Labanon.
Modesto led 17-7 at halftime, but Lebanon's 41-yard run cut that to 17-14 in the third. The Jaguars helped themselves with five sacks and three fumble recoveries.
BUFFS' BOUNCE With Sierra falling so hard, it appears Sonora and Manteca are the remaining obstacles in Oakdale's march to a sixth consecutive league crown. If either succeeds, look for them to accomplish the feat on their feet.
Manteca rode workhorse Eddie Smith (200 yards, 29 carries, five TDs) past Kimball 42-25, while Sonora scored the first 21 points and had 50 carries for nearly 300 yards to beat Weston Ranch 41-15.
Richard T. Estrada can be reached at (209) 578-2300 or email@example.com.