Justin Rice, The Bee’s 2014 Player of the Year who has battled a high ankle sprain most of the year, carried the ball 12 times for 154 yards and scored two touchdowns as the Raiders defeated Lathrop 44-6 in a Valley Oak League game Friday night.
Rice, who rushed for 2,146 yards as a junior, has 412 yards this season, well off last year’s pace. However, he’s averaging 10.6 yards per carry, right in line with his average of 11.2 per attempt in 2014.
“We ran him a little more, but didn’t overdo it,” said Central Catholic coach Roger Canepa, whose team improved to 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the VOL. “He got out of there healthy, so he should be rockin’ and rollin’ from here on out.”
After Rice staked Central Catholic to a 14-0 lead with runs of 29 and 11 yards, linebacker Kekupa’a Freehauf made it 21-0 on a 29-yard fumble recovery. Daron Bland closed out the first quarter scoring with a 32-yard interception return. Bland had another interception later in the game in his own end zone to thwart a Lathrop scoring opportunity.
Raiders kicker Bryce Wade made it 31-0 with a 38-yard field goal just before halftime.
Running back Montell Bland (11 yards) and quarterback Hunter Petlansky (32 yards) had second-half TD runs for Central Catholic, which travels to Tracy to take on Kimball next week.
The Raiders, three-time defending Sac-Joaquin Section and state Division IV champions, are 5-0 for the first time since 2005, when former coach Mike Glines guided the Raiders to a 12-0 season.