Tony Franks has been head coach of St. Mary's High School's football team for the past 13 seasons.
You'd think he would've seen it all by now.
"I experienced a first last week," said Franks, who got home at 4:45 a.m. after his Rams traveled 480 round-trip miles last week to beat Stockdale (Bakersfield) 34-27. "For the first time, my morning paper was already in the driveway when I got home.
"Normally, I get up Saturday morning, stagger out to get my newspaper and then read it over a cup of coffee. This time, I read about the game before I went to bed."
This week, Franks will get to enjoy his regular Saturday morning routine as St. Mary's hosts to Central Catholic in the annual Holy Bowl.
Then again, maybe Franks won't enjoy it so much if the Raiders have anything to do with it.
Central Catholic, which defeated the Rams 28-21 last season en route to the Division 4 state championship, is coming off its own impressive road victory 49-13 over powerful Placer in Auburn. Running back Matt Ringer, who toiled in the shadows of Ray Lomas and Rey Vega last season, rushed for 187 yards and four touchdowns and completed an option pass for a 45-yard TD in his debut as a starter.
"If you want to be a great football program, you've got to play great football teams," said Raiders head coach Roger Canepa, whose team takes on McClymonds (Oakland) next week in a rematch of last year's NorCal final. "There's no way any small school in the state plays the schedule we do."
That's a philosophy shared by Franks.
"It's not that we schedule difficult games as much as great games," said Franks, whose team travels to take on national powerhouse De La Salle (Concord) next week. "We want to provide great opportunities for high school football players to play great high school football games."
Against Stockdale, the Rams looked anything but great. They fell behind early and committed five turnovers.
"Stockdale had three turnovers so the turnover ratio was minus-2," said Franks. "But a couple of our turnovers were just horrific. We fumbled on their 1-yard line, going in for a touchdown, and another was a scoop-and-score from about midfield.
"But we kept battling and eventually got to a point where we felt like we were in control."
The Rams are led by quarterback Kaleb Parrish, a 6-foot-4, 205-pound senior who is one of the top-ranked QBs in the state. Running back Javante Norman, WR Jaelin Ratliff and WR/DB Bryan Pascual also might have cost Canepa a little lost sleep this week.
"Hey, I lose sleep worrying about the bus showing up on time," joked Canepa. "Parrish throws the ball well and he can run. He's a runner. Last year, we did a really good job of containing him."
A meaty preseason slate can only help the Raiders in their quest for another Sac-Joaquin Section Division 4 title, but it could be hazardous in their bid for back-to-back state titles. Though they qualified for a regional bowl with two losses last season, that's not always guaranteed.
The surest way back to the Home Depot Center in Carson where CC beat Santa Fe Christian (Solana) 66-7 for the state title Dec. 14 is to win them all.
Other featured games tonight:
BEYER at GOLDEN VALLEY The Patriots were a pleasant Week Zero surprise, piling up 57 points against West (Tracy). Golden Valley gave defending Modesto Metro Conference champ Downey all it could handle last week ... at Chuck Hughes Stadium. This will be a good measuring-stick game for the Pats, allowing them to see how they match up against a common opponent.
SIERRA at DAVIS (Johansen) Spartans quarterback Zach Magaña was impressive in his varsity debut, completing two-thirds of his throws for 333 yards and three TDs against East Union. He'll try to do as well against another Manteca school in Davis' home opener.
MODESTO at STAGG The Panthers head to Stockton to take on the Delta Kings. It'll be interesting to see how they fare against a Division 1 opponent. Modesto rolled up 74 points on Ceres last week, getting big games from quarterback Tiki Tonga (216 passing, 122 rushing), Antonio Perez (225 rushing, four TDs) and Frankie Calderon (three interceptions).
ENTERPRISE at OAKDALE The Hornets are making the long trip from Redding to face an Oakdale team that almost never loses in The Corral and is coming off a 1-point loss to Turlock. Probably not the best week to be a Hornet.
HUGHSON at WATERFORD The Huskies are poised for a big season, and they kick off tonight against Waterford, coming off a 27-15 loss to Riverbank.
RIPON CHRISTIAN at ELLIOT CHRISTIAN The Knights travel to Lodi as coach Randy Fasani, the NFL quarterback who played at Stanford, makes his head coaching debut.
ENOCHS at BUHACH COLONY (Saturday) These teams combined to give up 135 points last week. The Thunder lost 67-30 at San Ramon Valley; the Eagles lost 68-8 at Pitman.
Central Catholic live on www.nfhsnetwork.com.Complete high school schedule: Page C4