High School Football

Lopez: Three local coaches get first win; Modesto schools send statement in WAC.

Julian A. Lopez
Julian A. Lopez

In the first three games of the season, Modesto High had struggled to put together a complete game.

Against Patterson on Sept. 13, the Panthers allowed 35 points in the first half but zero in the second.

That changed on Friday as the Panthers beat Franklin, 48-0, for the school’s first win of the year.

“Our message was lets play a complete game,” Modesto coach Dylan Miller said Saturday morning. “We felt like we did that.”

Modesto scored on its first offensive possession and junior defensive end Sebastian Saucedo blocked a punt and junior tight end Oscar Tamayo returned it for a touchdown in the second quarter.

Junior running back James Hayes had over 100 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

“They didn’t have an answer for JJ,” Miller said. “He’s hard to tackle and sees the game at a level that not everyone does.”

The win was also the first of Miller’s career.

“It was a fun night and we were able to handle business,” he said. “Hopefully we continue that trend because it was an enjoyable sight.”

Miller wasn’t the only first-year coach to win on Friday as Brett Butler (Modesto Christian) and Lance Weckerle (Pitman) also earned their first victories.

The Crusaders scored 20 second half points in their 34-22 win over Riverbank while the Pride scored 16 in the final quarter to beat Monterey, 36-33.

Merzon wins 200th: While three local coaches won their first career game, Oakdale’s Trent Merzon won his 200th in a 42-14 win over East Union.

Since he became Oakdale’s coach in 2000, Merzon has led the Mustangs to four CIF Sac-Joaquin Section titles and one state championship (2016).

Hilmar’s Frank Marques won his 150th career game on Sept. 14.

Former Escalon coach Mark Loureiro is the section leader with 281 career victories, according to Cal-Hi Sports. Other leaders in the southern part of the section are Central Catholic’s Roger Canepa, won his 245th on Friday, and former coaches Wayne Schneider at Tracy at 224 and former Central coach Mike Glines (207).

Modesto schools send statement in the WAC: Will the Western Athletic Conference title be decided by a Modesto team?

After one week, it appears so as Beyer, Davis, and Johansen all won.

Beyer beat Los Banos, 14-7 behind strong defensive play while senior quarterback Elijah Diaz had five touchdowns in the Spartans’ 48-27 win over Mountain House. Johansen beat Pacheco, 21-20, scoring the game-winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

Each Modesto team has favorable matchups next week when they all face teams without wins.

Beyer hosts Ceres and Davis is at MJC against Los Banos while Johansen travels to Mountain House.

Big league games next week: There are a couple of league games with big implications next week.

In the Trans-Valley League, Hilmar (1-0, 5-0) hosts Escalon (4-0). The Cougars are the No. 1 ranked small-school team by the Bee and the Yellowjackets are No. 2.

Hilmar beat Escalon in the regular season and CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI Semifinals last year.

After their 38-27 win over Ripon, several Hilmar coaches and players already were discussing the upcoming game.

The top two teams in the Southern League will face off as Ripon Christian (1-0, 3-1) hosts Denair (1-0, 3-1).

Denair’s only loss last year were to the Knights on its way to a section and state title.

They have combined to outscored opponents, 272-95.

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Julian A. Lopez has been covering local sports for The Modesto Bee since August 2018. He graduated from Arizona State in 2016 with a BA in Journalism.