The first week of a football season is generally for working out some wrinkles and preparing for a few weeks down the road when the league season starts.
For Enochs and Beyer high schools, whose campuses are two miles apart on Sylvan Avenue in east Modesto, a hot August night might have provided the backdrop for their biggest game of the year.
Playing in the 13th annual Sylvan Bowl, Enochs dominated the Patriots on both sides of the ball in the second half and cruised to a 28-6 victory at Downey High School.
“For the (players), it’s huge,” Enochs coach James Stacy said of winning the Sylvan Bowl Trophy. “We were at 6-6 between us and Beyer. This now gives us the edge on the Sylvan Bowl Trophy. For them, it’s a huge thing.”
Enochs quarterback Ben Harless scored two touchdowns and the defense blanked Beyer in the second half as the Eagles snapped a six-game losing streak dating back to last September.
For the Patriots, coming off an 0-10 season, it was the program’s 12th straight loss. Its last victory was against Enochs on Oct. 27, 2017.
“The guys at Beyer ... Everyone was talking a lot of mess before the game. We let the play talk,” Harless said. “Half the team you know. That’s what makes it so fun. You guys love each other afterward.”
Harless scored from about 10 yards out in the second half to give the Eagles a 14-6 lead at intermission. Reese Santana gave Enochs a 7-0 lead with a touchdown run and Beyer closed the gap to 7-6 on a touchdown by Darius Murphy.
The second half, however, belonged to the Eagles.
With 5:38 left in the third quarter, the Beyer punter dropped the snap, giving the Eagles a first-and-10 on the Patriots’ 16 yard line.
A play later, bruising running back Christian Cervantes ran hard up the middle for a 9-yard gain down to the 2. Harless would eventually score from a yard out for a 21-6 lead with 3:51 remaining in the third.
On the next series, Beyer ran three plays to set up a fourth-and-5 from its own 32. The Patriots went for it, came up short and Enochs took over.
From there, the Eagles went eight plays, the last a 1-yard run by Cervantes.
On the play before, a 3rd-and-7 from the 11, Harless completed an 11-yard screen pass.
The touchdown, with 11:52 left of the game, effectively ended it.
Harless credited his offensive line and his big running back.
“That man is a tank,” Harless said of Cervantes. “Two-twenty-five, lean, that dude is a stud. ... Goal-line situation ... I don’t want to get in the way of him.”
Despite the loss, Beyer is a young team filled with a junior varsity squad that went 10-0 last year. Stacy expects good things out of the Patriots as they prepare for play in the Western Athletic Conference.
For Stacy, whose team plays in the extremely competitive Central California Athletic League, he had plenty of good takeaways from Friday’s victory.
“These guys needed this boost to know that they can do what we need them to do,” he said. “Everything starts with one play, one game. Winning this game gives them the confidence they need to move on to the next level.”