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MC coach faces his alma mater

Modesto Christian football team's offense. Head coach Mike Parsons
Modesto Christian football team's offense. Head coach Mike Parsons Modesto Bee

Modesto Christian High football coach Mike Parsons is in for a bit of a roller coaster this week.

His Crusaders play his alma mater, Chowchilla, on Friday night in Salida. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.

"I still have very close ties to Chowchilla," Parsons said at Monday's weekly meeting of the Modesto Quarterback Club at Hero's Sports Lounge in downtown Modesto. "It's my alma mater; I coached there.

"Their defensive coordinator, Alex Pittz, was in my wedding."

To top it off, both teams are off to strong starts. It's a big game beyond the emotional ties.

The Crusaders are 2-0 with easy victories over Orestimba and Capital Christian. Chowchilla also is 2-0 with victories over Coalinga and Le Grand.

"They run the Cox Box; they call it the Double Wing down there. They'll run the ball right at you," Parsons said. "And on defense, they play the 3-3-5 and they fly around. (MC quarterback Isaiah Burse) will have to run for his life."

Parsons said Chowchilla is bringing two busses of rooters with its players.

"We're expecting standing-room only," Parsons said. "You'd better show up early."

CENTRAL'S NEW HERO -- Roger Canepa had an interesting first two weeks as Central Catholic's head coach. The Raiders lost ugly to Cardinal Newman in their season opener, then preseason all-Sac-Joaquin Section kicker Andrew Kelly quit the team two days later. Central and its new kicker, Sebastian Hernandez, hit the road in Week 2 to play Sutter, a Northern Section power that hadn't lost a varsity game in three years.

"There were 6,000 people there, and 5,999 of them hated me," Canepa said.

The Raiders jumped out to a 21-0 lead, then Sutter came back to take a 28-27 lead with three minutes left. No problem. Central Catholic drove the length of the field, stalling at the Sutter 3-yard line with four seconds left. Hernandez's kick split the uprights for the victory.

"That was the great thing," Canepa said. "Our new kicker really came through. It was his first field goal attempt, and it couldn't have come at a bigger time."

Hernandez was mobbed by his teammates after the game, chanting his name as they left the field.

"We were behind against Cardinal Newman, and we didn't know how to come back," Canepa said. "But this week, we stayed calm. We really learned from the Cardinal Newman game."

DOWNEY'S BIG TEST -- Downey is off to a 2-0 start after victories over Golden Valley and Ceres, but head coach Jeremy Plaa said Friday night's game at home against Pitman is where it gets interesting.

"We view this game as our first true test," Plaa said. "(Pitman) is big, fast and strong.

"It's our first of three consecutive games against teams that made the playoffs last year. We go Pitman, Patterson and Lincoln (of Stockton). This three-game stretch is where we'll see where we're truly at."

Bee staff writer Will DeBoard can be reached at or 578-2300.