Homecoming is supposed to be happy and spirited with queens, kings, floats, bands and fun.
It was all of that Friday night for the Modesto Panthers except on the football field.
While the Panther students celebrated, the student-athletes again paid some Modesto Metro Conference dues in a 49-10 loss to Enochs at Chuck Hughes Stadium. Enochs (5-3, 4-0) advances to its showdown against Downey next Thursday night while Modesto (1-6, 0-3) seeks any kind of positive reinforcement.
Two 10-minute stoppages were needed to treat injured Panthers Vernard Jordan (knee) and Nick Anderson (concussion). The shoulders beneath the Modesto shoulder pads sagged. A team already laboring on the injury front was further weakened.
"To see your friends injured is not easy," Modesto coach Rod Long said. "You feel for those guys, but you can't let it creep into your head. You have to stay focused and play hard."
The injuries did not factor into the outcome. Enochs, stronger in all phases, dodged an early Modesto field goal by putting three touchdowns on the scoreboard within a 2:52 span of the second quarter.
Sophomore quarterback Shawn Munoz, improving seemingly with each snap, ignited the Eagles by rushing for 127 yards and three touchdowns. He also tossed 66 yards to Efrem Grimes, who shook a tackle near the Enochs bench and crossed the field into the end zone.
Munoz faked out virtually the entire defense on an option keeper and raced 45 yards for a touchdown one minute into the second half. That made it 36-3, Munoz's night was done and the officials wound the clock to game's end.
"He's still got a lot of sophomore in him, but he's getting a lot more comfortable in our offense," Enochs coach James Stacy said.
The Eagles coasted, however, through a sloppy first quarter. Modesto, led by junior quarterback Tiki Tonga and running back Lovell Collins, took the opening kickoff and marched to a short field goal by Carlos Garcia.
In fact, its lead fell a yard short of 10-0. Hiram Hernandez made a nice catch of Tonga's 39-yard pass inside the 5-yard line but fumbled when he was hit by Sam Herring. Trey Cooper recovered in the end zone for a touchback and a handy wake-up call for Enochs.
"That (a 10-0 Modesto lead) would have shocked everybody," Long said.
Enochs stabilized with a big dose of Grimes, its explosive 198-pound senior. His twin big plays the 66-yard catch-and-run and a 56-yard sprint past the Modesto bench came barely a minute apart and fueled the Eagles' 29-point second period.
"We came out with no momentum," Cooper said. "Everybody denied it, but we were looking ahead. Next week is our game."
Sluggish start aside, Enochs outgained Modesto 457-252. Grimes contributed with 110 rushing yards on only four carries. Cooper, the team's hustling safety, replaced Munoz at quarterback and rushed for the team's final touchdown.
"We were slow during a couple of practices this week," Stacy said. "We hit the gear and got into the rhythm we needed to be in."
Modesto supplied a late thrill for its fans when Tonga found Lovell Collins on a pretty 27-yard TD strike. A handful of students sang the alma mater after the final gun.