Central Catholic slowed the game down, dominated time of possession, and escaped the Holy Bowl with a victory that sent tremors throughout the region.
The final score: the unheralded Raiders 20, the much-talked-about Rams 7, and it shouldn't have been that close. Central Catholic fumbled going into the end zone and had a field goal blocked that prevented this game from becoming a blowout.
"The score wasn't indicative of how we controlled the game," Central Catholic assistant coach Leroy Rocha said at Monday's Modesto Quarterback Club at Coach's Corner, 950 Oakdale Road, Suite E. "We like to say, 'Defense wins championships,' so we spend 60 percent of our time in practice on defense."
On Friday, it paid dividends across enemy lines.
Never miss a local story.
Central Catholic neutralized St. Mary's speed, dominated the Rams' smaller front and forced five turnovers, producing a final result rarely experienced by the St. Mary faithful. For the first time in six years, the Rams' vaunted offensive attack was limited to single digits on the scoreboard. The last team to muzzle St. Mary's: De La Salle, September 2011.
"St. Mary's has all that speed," Rocha said. "What do you want to do: Get in a track meet with them? Or turn it into a heavyweight fight, blow for blow?"
The victory has forced many to reconsider the pecking order in the Sac-Joaquin Section. In MaxPreps' computer rankings, Central Catholic has climbed to No. 3 in the section behind only Folsom and Oak Ridge of El Dorado Hills, and No. 30 in the state.
Locally, the Raiders have moved into a tie for No. 2 with Manteca, which walloped Enochs.
We'll let these two figure it out. They meet Sept. 22 in their Valley Oak League opener in Manteca, following byes.
Here's a look at the rest of The Bee's large- and small-school power rankings:
Comprised of teams from the Central California Conference, Modesto Metro Conference, Valley Oak League and Western Athletic Conference.
1. (1) Oakdale (2-1): The Mustangs aren't penalized for a 45-29 loss to state-ranked Folsom. Instead, Oakdale's place atop this poll is strengthened because of what we learned on Friday evening, and it's this: To beat these senior-laden Mustangs, you're going to need serious Division I talent. Next: Bye.
t2. (2) Manteca (3-0): After playing to the final buzzer in thrilling victories over Valley Christian of San Jose and Christian Brothers of Sacramento, the Buffaloes eased into their bye week with a program-wide shutout of Enochs. Next: Bye.
t2 (3) Central Catholic (2-0): The Raiders climb into a tie with Manteca after stunning state-ranked St. Mary's in their Holy Bowl rivarly. Senior running backs Booker Dauson and Coleby Garrett ran wild on the hobbled Rams, who played without touted sophomore quarterback Noah May (shoulder). Next: Bye.
4. (4) Downey (3-0): The Knights completed a grueling stretch to start the season with a 61-25 victory over Tokay at Lodi's Grape Bowl, its third straight road game. Downey will make its long-awaited home debut Friday, and with junior quarterback Bryce Peterson, The Blue Crew can expect fireworks. Peterson completed 18 of his 28 passes for 309 yards and accounted for four touchdowns against the Tigers. Next: vs. Pitman.
5. (6) Gregori (3-0): The Jaguars completed the "Tour of Merced" with a 35-6 victory over El Capitan. With the win, Gregori has beat all three Merced city schools, including Golden Valley and Merced. Mason Medrano had three touchdowns in the latest win for the Jaguars. Next: at McNair.
6. (6) Turlock (1-2): Turlock was beaten by Tracy for the first since 2014, surrendering "The Dogbone" to its budding rival. The Bulldogs won't have long to lick their wounds, though, because there's another rival waiting on deck. Next: vs. Modesto.
7. (8) Pitman (1-2): The Pride lost a slugfest with Pleasant Grove of Sacramento, 29-28, a game that required three overtimes. Next: at Downey.
8. (9) East Union (2-0): The Lancers started slowly in a Homecoming victory over Johansen, but used a botched punt by the Vikings to ignite their offensive attack. For the second straight game, East Union racked up more than 550 yards of total offense. Next: at West.
9. (10) Los Banos (3-0): Behind another monster effort by junior running back Antonio Lopez, the Tigers spoiled their former coach's return. Now the coach at Golden Valley, Dennis Stubbs had no answer for Lopez, who has back-to-back 200-yard games. Next: vs. Dos Palos.
10. (7) Modesto (2-1): The Panthers tumble in the poll after underestimating Patterson in a 34-21 loss. Modesto was unraveled by two pick-6 interceptions. "We find ways to beat ourselves," first-year coach Brett Wagner said. "We understand that and have a lot to learn." Next: vs. Turlock.
Others: Merced (1-2), Patterson (2-1), Buhach Colony (1-2).
Comprised of schools from the Central California Athletic Association, Mother Lode League, Southern League, and Trans-Valley League.
1. (2) Calaveras (3-0): Calaveras pulverized Modesto Christian for the second straight season, and with Sonora's early struggles in mind, coach Jason Weatherby's team looks like the team to beat in the Mother Lode League. Calaveras scored 42 unanswered points against the Crusaders. Next: vs. Union Mine.
2. (3) Orestimba (2-0): After having a contact wiped out because of the heat, the Warriors enjoyed a productive week last week: The Warriors picked up 10th contact (Esparto High), filling the void created when Pacific Grove pulled out of their Week 1 contest in the 11th hour, and then won the road at El Molino. Next: at Esparto.
3. (1) Hilmar (2-1): Quarterback Tristan Crowley left last week's loss to Gustine with a sprained ankle and is listed as questionable for Friday's clash with Sonora. Junior Ryan Teixeira was 8 of 22 for 129 yards and a touchdown in relief; he'll get most of the snaps this week, according to coach Frank Marques. Next: at Sonora.
4. (5) Sonora (1-2): Kane Rodgers' return sparked the Wildcats, who snapped a three-game losing streak dating back to last season. Defense has to be a concern. Sonora is giving up nearly 36 points per game. Next: vs. Hilmar.
5. (nr) Gustine (2-0): Oliver Perez vaults Gustine into the top-5 with a stunning upset of former No. 1 Hilmar. Perez rushed for 306 yards and three touchdowns, spearheading a lethal ground attack. Brandon Garbez also topped 100 yards for Gustine, a darkhorse in the Southern League. Next: vs. Modesto Christian.
To contact reporter James Burns, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter @jburns1980.