Four weeks remain in the regular season of the high school football season. Here are the games to watch this week:
Gregori (4-2, 1-0) at Pitman (6-0, 1-0), 7 p.m. at Joe Debely Stadium
As I wrote in my column Thursday, it’s unusual for a game that features two teams that are a combined 10-2 to be termed as a must-win game. But that’s what we have here.
“They are very well-disciplined,” Gregori assistant coach Jimmy Oliver said. “We used to scrimmage against them and we know a lot about them. They have a good sound defense.”
Pitman beat Enochs 38-6 last week while Gregori defeated Modesto, 47-14. Pitman beat Gregori, 43-9 in 2011, the Jaguars’ inaugural season.
Merced (6-0, 2-0) at Buhach Colony (5-1, 2-0), 7 p.m.
The Central California Conference championship is on the line when these two teams face off.
“This is high school football,” Merced coach Rob Scheidt told the Merced Sun-Star, “For the kids, this is one opportunity to play in a big game. You want the atmosphere to be electric. You want your guys to create great memories so they can look back and remember the excitement in the crowd and the energy on the field.”
The Bears, the Bee’s No. 2 team in the large-school rankings, have outscored opponents 107-6 in league play this year. Buhach Colony is averaging 326 rushing yards per game.
The teams have split the last two meetings.
Hughson (5-2, 2-1) at Hilmar (5-1, 1-1), 7:30 p.m.
The loser of this game will be virtually eliminated for a chance at winning the Trans-Valley League.
Hughson hasn’t beaten Hilmar since 2014. The Yellowjackets were on a bye last week while Hughson beat Riverbank, 42-0.
Hughson will try to control the clock with a strong running game led by senior Carlos Arreola, who rushed for 90 yards in the Huskies’ 29-19 loss to Hilmar last year. Senior Bryan Millan had a kickoff return for a touchdown for Hilmar in last year’s win.
Turlock (3-3, 1-0) at Modesto (4-2, 0-1), 7 p.m. at Downey High School
After a disappointing loss to Gregori last week, the Panthers host the Bulldogs in a Central California Athletic League matchup.
“We got to check our character and get back to the drawing board,” Modesto coach Brett Wagner said.
Turlock has won seven of the last eight meetings, including a 14-7 win last year.
“The kids are angry (with last year’s result),” Wagner said.
Turlock snapped a two-game losing streak with a 30-24 win over Downey last week.
Weston Ranch (1-5, 0-2) at Central Catholic (6-0, 3-0), 7 p.m.
Central Catholic led 41-0 at halftime last week in its 48-7 win over East Union. Head Coach Roger Canepa was able to play his second-team for much of the second half. The Raiders welcome the Cougars, who they have outscored 115-19 in the last two meetings.
Friday’s game is Homecoming Night at Central Catholic.
Los Banos (3-3, 2-1) at Johansen (2-4, 1-2), 7 p.m.
After a 21-6 win at Ceres last week, the Vikings return home to face the Tigers, who fell to Mountain House, 26-17.
“Hopefully we can get another win,” Vikings coach Scott Sacuskie said. “It (win over Ceres) was a great morale booster.”
The two wins are the most in a season for Johansen since 2011.
Ripon Christian (6-0, 3-0) at Gustine (4-2, 2-1), 7:15 p.m.
After a big win at home over Orestimba last week, the Knights travel on the road to face the Reds, a team they haven’t beaten since 2013.
Gustine lost to Denair, 49-14 last week.
Lathrop (2-4, 2-1) at Davis (1-5, 0-3), 7 p.m. at Modesto Junior College
It’s been a tough ride in the Western Athletic Conference for the Spartans so far. The good news is that they have scored 86 games in three games but the bad news is they have allowed 133.
“They are big and athletic but we like our matchups,” Spartans coach Tim Garcia.
One area where the Spartans have the edge is at quarterback. Senior Xavier Rodriguez threw for a school-record 473 yards last week and has 2,131 yards and 20 touchdowns this year.
Oakdale (5-2, 2-1) at Sierra (3-3, 2-1), 7 p.m.
After a 19-14 loss to Manteca last week, the Mustangs travel to face the Timberwolves. Oakdale has won the last three matchups and needs a win if they want any shot of still winning the Valley Oak League title. Sophomore running back Kimoni Stanley has 711 rushing yards and six touchdowns for Sierra this year and rushed for 102 yards and a touchdown in the Timberwolves’ 55-7 loss to Central Catholic on Sept. 21.
Denair (5-1, 2-1) at Orestimba (4-2, 2-1), 7:15 p.m.
The Warriors are in a precarious situation after suffering their first Southern League loss since 2014 last week against Ripon Christian.
The Coyotes are off to a 5-1 start and will look to improve off of last year’s 58-20 loss to Orestimba.