Beyer High is realizing the benefits of its rugged early season schedule, and the ultimate payoff could be a Modesto Metro Conference championship if it can maintain its momentum.
The Patriots visit defending MMC champion Johansen tonight -- a game the host Vikings dearly need to preserve their playoff hopes. Kickoff is at 7:30.
Beyer (3-4, 2-0) has a deceiving record, having lost to three of the state's top-ranked teams -- Division I No. 15 Merced, and Division III No. 1 Oakdale and No. 3 Manteca -- that boast a combined 19-2 mark.
Quarterback Jesse White and tailback Surrell Briggs have led the Patriots to impressive wins over Downey (28-7) and Modesto (42-14), and the Patriots are trying not to look ahead to next week's potential battle for first with Davis (5-3, 3-0).
Johansen (2-5, 1-1) has already lost to Davis, so a loss to Beyer would leave the Vikings two games back with two games to go -- and in need of a four-way tie for first to have any shot at the title.
In other featured games:
Two of the Stanislaus District's small-school powers clash when No. 3 Escalon (6-1, 2-0) hosts No. 4 Hughson (6-1, 2-0) and Aaron Stice in Trans-Valley League play. Stice is the district's top rusher (1,151 yards) and has run for at least 122 yards in each game.
Oakdale (6-1, 4-0), coming off its emotional 21-20 win over Manteca, tries to avoid a letdown when it visits East Union (3-4, 1-3) in Valley Oak League action.
Resurgent Modesto Christian (6-1, 2-0), The Bee's No. 5 small school, brings a five-game winning streak into Ripon (2-5, 0-2). MC, led by QB Isaiah Burse (776 yards passing, 410 yards rushing, 13 TDs) can clinch one of the TVL's three playoff berths with a win.
Downey (5-2, 1-1) hosts Modesto (2-5, 0-5) in MMC play. It's a homecoming for Modesto offensive coordinator Frank Bispo, who coached the Knights last season.