Joe Cortez: Enochs-Buhach Colony a must-see Thursday matchup

09/03/2014 5:04 PM

10/20/2014 2:42 PM

Just a few years ago, the Modesto Metro Conference’s seven teams, with only two stadiums at their disposal, had to play a game of musical chairs to see who would host games on Friday night, who would travel for a road game, and who would get stuck with a Thursday game.

Not only did the Thursday game virtually guarantee diminished gate receipts, but teams often weren’t at their best with the short week of preparation. Thursday league games, however, became a thing of the past last season with the opening of the city’s third facility – Don Lanphear Stadium on the campus of Gregori High School.

But during the preseason, when MMC teams are playing seven different opponents, as opposed to playing each other in league action, the Thursday game can still rear its ugly head once in a while, as it does this week with Enochs playing host to Buhach Colony.

Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. at Downey High’s Chuck Hughes Stadium.

“I’m definitely not fond of playing on Thursdays and I don’t think any team should have to play on Thursdays,” Enochs coach James Stacy said. “But with our stadium situation, sometimes we have to.

“But it creates a short week and everything’s abbreviated and you have to change your practice plan, not to mention the gate … there’s not as many fans at the game.”

Fans will want to turn out for this game.

The Eagles are coming off a tough 25-20 loss to Turlock, picked by coaches to finish second in the Central California Conference. Buhach Colony was picked to finish third. After winning three straight league crowns and 16 straight conference games, the Thunder was knocked off last season by Merced.

Buhach Colony is coming off a 51-0 whitewashing of El Capitan, playing without seniors during its first varsity campaign, so it’s hard to gauge the Thunder off Week Zero.

“They’ve got a big fullback, who also plays nose guard, and he’s a load and a half to take down,” said Stacy, referring to senior Justin Stefani. “Plus, they’ve got a couple of really quick flybacks and, as usual, they’ve got some good sized linemen up there. The challenge for us will be to stop them from pushing us downfield all night.”

Enochs had a shot to beat Turlock late in the fourth quarter. Trailing 25-12 with about 6 minutes to play, senior quarterback Shawn Munoz rallied the Eagles to a TD and two-point conversion. Enochs’ defense got a key three-and-out and good punt return from junior Michael Whatley to put the ball near midfield. Munoz took advantage of single-coverage on receiver Caden Rico and threw what looked to be a go-ahead, 46-yard touchdown with about 35 seconds to play.

But Rico couldn’t haul it in and Enochs squandered its best opportunity.

For those of you who attended the Turlock-Enochs game, you no doubt know that the scoreboard at Chuck Hughes Stadium wasn’t operational for the varsity game. Well, according to Modesto City Schools, it’s been fixed and will be ready to go for this week’s games.

Cal-Hi Sports recently announced its All-Sac-Joaquin Section preseason team and five players from the Stanislaus District have been named to the first-team defense.

Merced High senior linebacker Jermon Cook (6-1, 215) gained recognition after recording 131 tackles and 7.5 sacks as a junior, while Pacheco senior linebacker Frank Ginda (6-1, 230) garnered attention after an impressive showing at the Nike Sparq combine in Oakland last May.

Patterson senior defensive back Damarrio Hammonds (5-11, 160) had nine interceptions as a junior and already has an offer from Weber State, while Central Catholic senior defensive back Jared Rice (6-5, 215) had seven picks last season. Summerville senior punter Brice Farrell (6-2, 175) also was a first-team pick – punters were placed on the defense – after a junior season in which he averaged 44.9 yards per kick with a long of 56.

Cal-Hi named eight other district players to the all-section second team: sophomore running back Montell Bland and junior quarterback Hunter Petlansky of Central Catholic; junior running back Demetrius Vinson of Gregori; quarterback Tyrone Williams and running back Jabar Byrd of Merced; quarterback Brad Bussard of Ceres; wide receiver/safety Hunter Johnson of Sierra; and defensive back Aundre Sherman of Buhach Colony.

Last week, in The Bee’s annual high school football preview, I wrote a cover story about this perhaps being the Year of the Quarterback, just as last year was the Year of the Running Back. That wasn’t just a ploy to sell papers, either. I really believe there’s going to be some exceptional play from the trigger men this season.

But after the first Friday night of the season, it looks like the running backs still have the edge.

Of the quarterbacks I touted in the preseason edition, Merced’s Williams threw for 400-plus yards in the season-opening loss to powerful Clovis West (Fresno) but he also threw five interceptions. Downey’s P.J. Wilson passed for more than 300 yards, but he threw two key picks late in the game as his Knights lost 36-33 at Pitman.

Enochs’ Shawn Munoz looked good, and nearly engineered a game-winning drive with seconds to play, but the Eagles also lost. Hilmar’s Jonathan O’Brien and Patterson’s Damien Paulo were solid, but unspectacular, in victories. Central Catholic’s Petlansky and Ripon Christian’s Billy Marr were off last week.

The running backs, meanwhile, ran wild.

Calaveras’ Connor Hamilton ran for 287 yards and six touchdowns in a 55-48 loss to McNair (Stockton); Waterford’s Dante Berggren ran for 256 yards and six TDs (including a 99-yarder) in a 37-18 win over Riverbank, and was named the Northern California Offensive Player of the Week by Cal-Hi; Stone Ridge Christian’s Bailey Dahlhoff totaled 243 yards and four TDs in a 37-15 win over Woodland Christian; Gregori’s Vinson, who shined at the Sparq combine last May and put himself on a lot of scouts’ radars, rushed for 228 in a 40-36 loss to Chavez (Stockton); Escalon’s Wesley Dick went for 206 yards in a 47-34 loss to Patterson, which got a 202-yard, three-TD performance from Michael Lawson; Davis’ Jasaiah Millhouse rushed for 203 yards in the Spartans’ 16-6 win over East Union; and Mark Paul of Sierra finished with 202 yards in a 54-7 rout of Ripon.

Shows what I know.

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