SALIDA There's a banner hanging in the Modesto Christian gym saluting the 1980 football team that won the eight-man state football title.
More players names grace that banner than are listed on the Crusaders' 2013 roster.
The question isn't one of whether these current Crusaders can compete with anyone at the Division 4 level, because that statement was made with Friday night's 51-15 thrashing of Mother Lode League co-favorite Calaveras.
The real question is whether Modesto Christian will have enough bodies to survive the Trans-Valley League.
"I think that's a question a lot of people will be asking after tonight," said Crusaders' coach Steve Gleason. "I know overall some of the TVL schools that traditionally have big numbers are down this year. I'll take these 20 and go and compete against Ripon and Hughson and Hilmar."
They certainly competed against the Redskins, rolling up 479 yards of offense, including 363 on the ground, while picking off six passes.
If the Redskins (1-1) were thinking about hanging close with the Crusaders (2-1,) then wearing them down in the second half, that plan flew out the window when MC got two touchdown passes from Anthony Brooks within a 50-second span late in the second quarter to grab a 28-7 halftime lead.
"No, we couldn't wear them down," said Calaveras coach Jason Weatherby. "And when you think about it, if you have 30 players on a team, how many of them are true players - 20?
"They have about the right number and they play all of them. That's a solid team right there."
Solid and balanced.
Brooks ran for 126 yards and a touchdown, and passed for 116 and three scores. Teammate Andre Edwards rolled up 132 yards on 17 carries before coming off the field with leg cramps in the third quarter.
"We prepared all week for this and hard work pays off," Brooks said. "People put in the time all summer, so when the game time came we were ready. I couldn't find a better group of guys to play with than we have right here."
Edwards got MC on the board with a 38-yard run midway through the first quarter, but Calaveras answered 50 seconds later when Mike Seawell caught a slant from quarterback Justyn Thornberg, skipped past MC's safety and sprinted into the end zone to complete a game-tying 67-yard scoring play.
But that one well-executed play accounted for all but 46 yards of the Redskins' aerial attack. The two Calaveras quarterbacks combined to complete only 5 of 19 passes, which means they completed more passes to Crusaders than they did to Redskins.
"We didn't play very well and we didn't tackle worth a darn," Weatherby said. "I thought we prepared pretty well and had guys in spots to make plays, make tackles, make the block, and just didn't do it."
Modesto Christian went on to score 38 unanswered points, with Austin Deshields reaching the end zone twice on scoring receptions covering 17 and 36 yards, and Windsor Jarrison grabbing a scoring pass from Brooks covering 39 yards.
Gleason, in addition to praising his skill players, was quick to give credit to his offensive line.
"Our offensive line has taken monumental strides in getting better and getting their footwork down," he said. "Traditionally MC has small offensive lines, but this year we have some beef up front and they're starting to take hold."
The Crusaders visit East Union next week before embarking on TVL play, which starts with a home game Sept. 27 against Hilmar.
The MC roster isn't likely to grow, and the Crusaders can't look to the junior varsity for help. Modesto Christian dressed only 14 players for Friday's JV game, and lost two players to injury during the action.
"I'm tired, but we condition a lot," Brooks said. "We run every day in practice knowing we have a small team and that everybody has to play both ways."
But would Brooks consider asking classmates to come out for the football team?
"It's not my job," he said.
Brian VanderBeek can be reached at (209) 578-2150 or follow him on Twitter, @modestobeek