Gregori opens stadium with convincing victory over Chavez

ragostini@modbee.comSeptember 6, 2013 

— Don Lanphear didn't care how the yards came — on the ground, through the air, by stagecoach, whatever.

As long as the yardage was earned and the game won, he would crease a smile below that moustache. Which means Lanphear, the man for whom Lanphear Stadium was dedicated Friday night, no doubt loved every second of Gregori's 39-13 victory over Chavez of Stockton.

"We had Don talk to our team last year. We wanted our kids to know the man behind that name on the scoreboard. That was important to us," Gregori coach Jason McCoy said. "He is a humble man and a great man. It is an honor to have Don Lanphear Stadium here at Gregori."

The Jaguars' effort matched the moment. They punished the Titans for 440 yards on the ground, a number that would have eclipsed 500 if not for a slew of penalties. Gregori didn't gain a single yard passing and attempted only one.

Bet Lanphear liked the physicality of that.

Tyler Janitz, born 13 years after Lanphear coached Grace Davis into the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I finals (1984), best illustrated Gregori's dominance. The rangy junior, a big part of the Jaguars' 8-2 junior varsity team a year ago, embodied that oh-so-football term — running downhill.

He steps with patience and understated power, gathering momentum deep into the game. His teammates followed suit. When it was over, Janitz totaled 171 yards and two touchdowns on only 12 carries.

"We got a good thing going here. We have a family out here," said Janitz, whose post-game excitement almost left him breathless. "The line rushed downfield, we hit the gaps, I pointed to the line and said, 'If it weren't for you guys.' "

The Gregori students rushed onto the field to greet their heroes at game's end. Everyone among the crowd estimated at 2,500 seemed to grasp the night's historic theme. Gregori's first game in its own house, a venue framed by berms tucked into the western corner of its sprawling campus, produced the desired result.

Lanphear, surrounded by former players wearing jersies numbered by their graduation year, rolled onto the premises in a red sports car. Modesto City Schools dignitaries, friends and fellow coaches honored one of the city's most successful and most personable coaches.

Gregori's Wing-T attack — one part deception and four parts sledgehammer — pounded for five straight touchdowns. Alex Labanon, Janitz's senior mate, ripped for a pair of touchdowns and 90 yards on 13 attempts. Carlos Fernandez, another junior, accounted for 84 yards on 12 carries. The Jaguars tore open a 13-7 halftime lead with scoring marches of 79, 70 and 55 yards during the third quarter.

The night belonged to the home team, as the script mandated, and McCoy screamed the kind of sentiment afterward that Lanphear felt more than once.

Said McCoy to his team, which was 3-7 in 2012, "Doesn't it feel good to win a game?"

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