The Central Catholic High football team has found the silver lining in a soft October schedule.
The second-ranked Raiders are unbeaten and remain on course for a Week showdown with No. 1 Oakdale.
Central Catholic is also as healthy as it has been all season. Senior quarterback Theo Azevedo returned to the huddle during Friday’s 42-6 victory at Lathrop.
“We’re taking it one game at a time,” Central Catholic coach Roger Canepa said. “We tell them every week, ‘You have to take it one game at a time.’ Everyone knows who we play in Week 10, but we’ve got to go week to week.”
Azevedo has missed the last five games with a shoulder injury. He left the Sept. 8 victory at St. Mary’s, replaced by sophomore Kyle Jackson.
Jackson was 5-0 as a starter. He has struggled with the pass, completing just 42.4 percent of his passes for 282 yards and four touchdowns, but the 5-foot-11, 195-pounder is a nightmare in space for linebackers and defensive backs.
Jackson scored his third rushing touchdown of the season with a 12-yard sprint in the second quarter.
Canepa views Azevedo’s return as a blessing. In his mind, two is better than one.
Azevedo entered Friday’s game in the second quarter with the Raiders well ahead of the Spartans. He captained the offense to the finish, throwing one interception in five passes.
“He threw some good balls, but had that one pick,” Canepa said. “We’re trying to get all of that cleaned up so that we have two capable quarterbacks for the stretch run.”
It may not matter who is under center for the Raiders (7-0, 5-0), who triggered a running clock in the third quarter.
Dauson Booker went over the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his career. The senior rushed for 138 yards and two touchdowns on just 10 carries and now has 1,045 in just seven games.
Booker scored on runs of 20 and 63 yards.
Dawaiian McNeely also scored two rushing touchdowns. He opened and closed the scoring for Central Catholic.
The defense got into the end zone, too. Justin Traina returned an interception 18 yards as Central Catholic continued its domination of the Valley Oak League.
In five VOL games, the Raiders boast a 40-point average margin of victory.
“Defensively, we played well. We ran the ball. We had a pick-six and I thought we played good offensively,” Canepa said. “Theo got some reps.
“We’re trying to clean up little things and stay healthy. Right now, the key is to get better and not get injured. We need to stay focused and not look past anybody.”
Central Catholic hosts Kimball Friday for its homecoming game.