MODESTO — Downey High believes it's peaking at the right time of the season, a point difficult to counter.
The Knights certainly won't be getting disagreement from Beyer.
With a share of the Modesto Metro Conference championship and the guarantee of a playoff berth at stake, Downey played flawless offensive football in rolling to a 49-18 victory over the Patriots at Gregori High.
"Most of all, we wanted the co-MMC championship," said Downey senior Mario Sanchez. "That was most important, even more than making the playoffs. We were just worried about this game.
"The coaches did a great job of game-planning and getting ready for the game. It's good to see us playing like this heading into the playoffs."
Sanchez had the kind of all-around game generally reserved for basketball point guards. He caught six passes for 119 yards and three touchdowns, he ran 13 times for 94 yards and a score, and he even threw a touchdown pass of 38 yards to Tristan Best.
"Mario does his thing like this every night, which opens everything up for me," said quarterback P.J. Wilson. "That's what makes us a good offense."
The Knights (7-3 overall, 5-1 MMC) sprinted past good and lapped great in an eye-opening first half. In rolling to a 35-0 lead at intermission, Wilson completed 13 of 15 passes for 280 yards. He finished 16 of 18 for 314.
"Everything worked," said Downey coach Jeremy Plaa, in claiming at least part of the MMC title for the second straight season. "We talked as a staff last week about how we're just starting to peak as a team.
"Last year we had a great team with injuries at the end of the season, so we peaked around week eight or nine. There's a lot of luck involved in that, but we're happy to be playing another week."
Ever since the Sac-Joaquin Section went to its current playoff format with the 2007 season, every team winning six or more games has made the playoffs. The pairings for the postseason will be announced today, but it appears that six wins will not guarantee an extra game this season.
So Beyer (6-4, 4-2) huddled after the game perhaps for the final time as a team. The players knew it, and the tears in their eyes were proof.
"The hardest thing is not knowing because you can't have proper closure with your seniors," said Patriots coach Bill Flesher. "Is this the last game, or isn't it? We'd certainly love to play again.
"This senior class is enjoying their first winning season ever at Beyer, and that's something for these guys to talk about."
Despite falling behind and losing by a margin wide enough for the final quarter to be played with a running clock, the Patriots were far from hapless. They stuck to their ground game and rolled up 351 rushing yards, with Jay Green carrying 16 times for 129 yards and Paul Fagbamila adding 106 yards on 11 carries.
But they also turned the ball over twice on fumbles, once on an interception, and had their steam stolen when their opening drive of 16 plays was stalled on a fourth-and-goal at the 2.
"We just did a lot of things you can't do in a championship game," Flesher said. "If we got some momentum going, maybe that would have helped us."
But then, any Beyer offensive success would have forced Downey to continue its aerial assault, which appeared all but unstoppable.
"The line gave us great protection and Mario was running the ball, which opens it up for the passing game," Wilson said. "Everybody did their job tonight."
Brian VanderBeek can be reached at (209) 578-2150 or follow him on Twitter, @modestobeek