High School Football

Predictions... Find out who we pick to win league titles

Central Catholic players take the field before the Holy Bowl game with St. Mary’s at Central Catholic High School in Modesto , Calif., August 31, 2018.
Central Catholic players take the field before the Holy Bowl game with St. Mary’s at Central Catholic High School in Modesto , Calif., August 31, 2018. aalfaro@modbee.com

Its been an exciting five weeks of high school football in the Stanislaus District. With some leagues wrapping up non-conference games and some already beginning league play, it is time to predict who I think will win some of the notable leagues.. These are just my predictions and I will probably be wrong.

Division II Central California Athletic League- Downey

Before the season, Downey’s Jeremy Plaa and Gregori’s Jason McCoy told me that nobody in the CCAL is going undefeated and I still believe that to be true. The league, which was already going to be unpredictable, has yet another element added to it with the injury to Knights’ freshman quarterback Beau Green. Green injured his shoulder in Downey’s 20-14 loss to McClymonds last Friday and he could be out for a couple of weeks. Plaa was “hopeful” that Green could play in the league opener against Turlock on Sept. 28, a game I believe will decide the league winner.

Even with the injury to Green, I think the Knights are going to win the CCAL. The Knights have the best receiving core in the league and they will be even more dangerous when senior Javon Gamez returns soon. Gamez has been out all season with a hamstring injury. Junior Robert Rivera and senior Jordan Wilson are a dynamic duo in the backfield and have combined for 675 yards and seven touchdowns.

Turlock played a brutal non-conference schedule and is better than its 2-3 record. Gregori started 0-2 before a three-game winning streak and Modesto has senior running back Zaire Eugene, who has led them to a 3-1 start. Pitman is the only undefeated team in the league at 5-0 but its opponents have combined to win two games. Senior Jakob Partida is averaging 9.9 yards per carry for the Pride.

Division III Valley Oak League- Central Catholic

The Raiders are the clear favorites to win this league and the only way I see them faltering is if they beat themselves, kind of like what they nearly did in their 35-28 win over Manteca last week in which they had six fumbles (two lost) and a couple of other miscues. Central Catholic has the best running back squad in the league with seniors Kyle Jacklich and Dawaiian McNeely headlining the group that is averaging 250 yards on the ground per game and has 15 touchdowns. Junior quarterback Dalton Durossette was named the starting quarterback last week after a back-and-forth battle with junior Kyle Jackson during the non-conference season. Durossette doesn’t have to do much with the run-heavy offense but he has shown the ability to make big plays when needed. Senior Adrian Cuevas leads the team with 28 tackles and when you add McNeely, senior Justin Traina, and junior Sithri Price, the Raiders have one of the area’s best secondary groups.

Oakdale is my big wild card in this league and I will be interested to see how they do when they travel to face Manteca on Sept. 28. Senior Max Moore and sophomore Zeke Saffar have run the ball well for the Mustangs the last couple of weeks. Just like last year, the league title could be decided in the final game of the season when the Mustangs host the Raiders on Oct. 26. Oakdale beat Central Catholic last year to win the VOL title.

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Division IV Western Athletic Conference- Mountain House

The three Modesto schools (Beyer, Davis, and Johansen) are a combined 2-10 and each is struggling in its own way. Beyer and Johansen are struggling with low numbers and having kids transfer while Davis’ season is a big question mark right now with the injury to senior quarterback Xavier Rodriguez. Rodriguez was hurt in the first quarter of the Spartans’ 30-14 loss to Mountain House. He had 1,071 passing yards and 11 touchdowns before the injury and if he is out for a long period of time, it could be a big blow to Tim Garcia’s squad.

Mountain House went 0-5 in the Trans Valley League last year and made the switch to the WAC. The Mustangs are 4-0 and have been led by a balanced rushing attack with three running backs averaging over 69 yards per game. Nobody has been able to stop senior Keenami Maggard, who has six tackles for losses and five sacks.

Division V Trans Valley League- Hilmar

There are three teams in the TVL are undefeated and two more that only have one loss.. So yeah, this league is tough from top to bottom. There are numerous reasons why different teams can win the league: Ripon has a great defense to go along with the offense led by senior quarterback Ryan Daggett. Modesto Christian has given up only 23 points in five games and Andrew Beam’s Escalon Cougars are 4-0. Throw in the 4-1 Hughson Huskies who have allowed nine points or fewer in their last three games and you have four teams who all could win the league.

However, despite losing its TVL opener to Ripon, I am picking Hilmar to win the league. Senior Isaac Sharp is a special player who can score every time he touches the ball. Sharp has 1,015 total yards and 15 touchdowns and has only played two full games due to blowout wins. The Yellowjackets struggled in the red zone in their loss to the Indians and its one area that they have to fix if they want to win the league title. Senior quarterback Ryan Teixeira had a couple of nice throws and runs last week and he will have a chance for a couple of breakout games down the stretch with opposing defenses giving so much attention to Sharp. After their game at Escalon on Friday, the Yellowjackets return home and will host Hughson (Oct. 5) and Modesto Christian (Oct. 12).

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Division VI Southern Athletic League- Orestimba

The last time the Warriors lost a league game was Nov. 7, 2014 to Gustine, 23-21. Orestimba has won 22 straight league games with only two of them being decided by 10 points or fewer. There is a lot of improvement in this league (Denair and Ripon Christian both are 4-0) but I still like the Warriors to win it. Senior quarterback Jacob Bettencourt has 15 total touchdowns and his favorite target has been senior Tyler Vargas, who has 26 receptions for 408 yards and six touchdowns. The Warriors defense is averaging three sacks a game, led by senior Solomon Bell, who has four sacks.

Orestimba plays Ripon Christian (Sept. 28) and Denair (Oct. 5) in back-to-back weeks and that two-game stretch could decide the league title.

What do you think? Did I completely miss on everything or do you agree with some of picks? Email me at jalopez@modbee.com with your thoughts.

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