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Football Athletes of the Week

RODNEY PEREIRA

Oakdale receiver

Pereira has been catching balls thrown by Devin Combs since they were youngsters playing in the park. Add four years of high school football, and it's easy why the two have created such a strong bond.

"We were friends when we were little, and I think that carries over when we're playing," said Pereira, a senior who caught 10 passes for 143 yards and two TDs in Friday's 42-39 loss to state-ranked Cardinal Newman. "Devin and I have a lot of confidence in each other."

That confidence extends to head coach Trent Merzon and his playcalling. The key to his 10-catch night, Pereira said, was that Merzon kept the defense guessing.

"They're a smart team, so he kept changing the routes," said Pereira, who has six touchdowns this season. "It wasn't anything tricky, but he had the defense guessing. Then Devin found the window and he'd know I'd be there. That gets back to the two of us being good friends."

-- RICHARD T. ESTRADA


JORDAN BUCHANAN

Turlock Christian linebacker

With little size and plenty of speed, Turlock Christian coach Rusty Lyon revamped his defense this season. The new philosophy gives his linebackers the freedom to attack the ball, rather than waiting for the play to develop. It has helped TC to a 3-0 start and allowed Buchanan to use his greatest asset.

"He's around 5-11, 180 pounds, but he's got really quick feet and good technique when tackling," Lyon said. "We're not real big, but we've good athletes."

Buchanan was in on 12 tackles Friday as TC posted a historic, 10-6 win over Orestimba. It's the first time the Eagles beat a larger school, according to Lyon.

"Jordan's able to hit and wrap, which is essential for a linebacker," said Lyon, who plays Buchanan on the inside of the 4-4 alignment. "He's aggressive hitting the middle and fighting through tackles, and penetrating on sweeps, getting between linemen. That's what we're asking from our linebackers, to be aggressive."

-- RICHARD T. ESTRADA

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