Butte will give Modesto Junior College football team another tough test

ragostini@modbee.comOctober 3, 2013 

The Butte College Roadrunners of Oroville used to be known as Aaron Rodgers' school.

They're still proud of their most famous former player, of course, but they attach their name today to winning football. Butte wins year in and year out, and this year is no different.

The Roadrunners (4-0), ranked No. 2 in California with an offense that is No. 1 in rushing (347 yards per game) and tied for first in least points allowed (7.8), feature their usual far-flung roster.

How far-flung? They've brought together players from 17 states and four countries.

The Modesto Junior College Pirates welcome Butte, community college football's version of the U.N., to MJC Stadium on Saturday night.

"Butte doesn't seem to have any weaknesses. They're very strong," MJC coach Sam Young said. "They can get real big and run straight at you or come at you with little guys with speed and spread you out. Their personnel is outstanding."

Butte displayed its talent during last week's 45-3 thrashing of San Joaquin Delta. The Roadrunners outrushed the Mustangs 409-20 and even scored on a long-distance quarterback sneak by quarterback Tommy Stuart.

Modesto (2-2) braces for a difficult matchup. Five opposing running backs have dented the MJC defense for at least 100 rushing yards, and the Pirates allowed 399 rushing yards during last week's 49-32 loss at San Mateo.

The Pirates' sophomores find hope, however, in their collective memories. They extended Butte — which eventually finished 10-1 — with arguably its best effort of the 2012 season. Only a fumble inside the 1 during the game's final minute prevented overtime during Modesto's 45-38 loss.

Problem is, the Pirates absorbed a physical pounding on San Mateo's firm synthetic surface last week. Several are injured, including quarterback TeeJay Gordon (turf toe), who's passed for six touchdowns and rushed for five.

Though the Pirates have lost two straight, they still have averaged 40.2 points per game, sixth best in the state. Much of that is due to Gordon's versatility.

"He hasn't been running early this week," Young said. "He'll be a game-day decision."

Backup quarterbacks Chris Souza and Zach Johnson both work as wide receivers and kick returners. Souza suffered a cracked bone in his shin last week, but he has taken part in practice.

Johnson, a freshman from Tracy's Kimball High, is the other option at QB.

"Zach is taking the bulk of the snaps this week," Young said. "We'll rally around him."

Running back Anthony Cota (shoulder) might see action, but slot Ricky Fuentes (knee) will miss his second straight game. Regardless of the Butte outcome, MJC will look forward to next week's bye.

"We're making progress, but the injuries are adding up," Young said. "We have a few weapons missing. I still feel there are ways for us to move the ball."

NOTES— Saturday night's game begins at 6 o'clock. ... Inside linebacker Brandon Camara, sidelined by injury since the season opener against Merced, is expected to play.

Bee staff writer Ron Agostini can be reached at ragostini@modbee.com or (209) 578-2302. Follow Ron via Twitter, @modbeesports.

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