Helmet Stickers: Prep Football Week 7

Chavez High running back Priest Jennings (right) leads the Sac-Joaquin Section with 1,377 rushing yards. (CALIXTRO ROMIAS/THE RECORD)

At this point in the season, names of top football performers sounds really familiar. You hear pretty much every week, from my coverage and elsewhere, that St. Mary’s linebacker Khalil Hodge leads the state in tackles, and that Sierra running back Mark Paule Jr. has more rushing yards and TDs than anyone in the section.

And every now and then, we get a curious case like Cutrell Haywood’s.


Haywood, a sophomore, played just his second varsity game for the Delta Kings Friday in a 55-20 win over McNair: Stagg’s first victory this season.

And he didn’t just play well, he was astounding, with three touchdown catches and four, count ‘em, four, interceptions. Most players in the state don’t get four interceptions the entire season. And those four interceptions came against McNair’s Osai Brown, one of the top junior passers in the section and state.

Haywood lead’s off my Week 7 edition of “Helmet Stickers” – celebrating the best in local Friday night football.


Brown was a dual threat again for the Bulldogs in a 35-21 win over Lodi, with 119 rushing yards on 20 carries and a touchdown, and a 5-of-7 passing night with 94 yards and an aerial TD.


Walker, a workhorse for the Trojans, was the key to Lincoln’s 14-6 win at West Friday. He had 21 carries for a game-high 198 yards and the game-sealing touchdown.

NOAH RIGHETTI (St. Mary’s QB, Sr.)

Righetti is really finding his stride down the stretch, and went 18 of 23 for 243 yards and four touchdowns in St. Mary’s 32-0 shutout of Tokay on homecoming Friday.


Charles’ stock is rising in terms of Sac-Joaquin Section quarterbacks, and in a 55-7 win over Kimball, went 5 of 5 passing with 115 yards and two touchdowns, with 85 rushing yards including a 31-yard TD.


Jennings already led the section in rushing, and just added to it with his 20-carry, 249-yard, two-touchdown performance in a win over Edison Friday. This guy’s breakaway speed and agility is incredible. And he’s humble to boot.


Buligon didn’t have gaudy stats Friday, but an amazing 30-yard TD run, 69 rushing yards despite being sacked five times and took a gnarly hit to the helmet only to return healthy a couple drives later.

JACK WEAVER (East Union QB/LB/DB, So.)

Weaver may’ve been an underclassman, but he was Superman for the Lancers Friday, with three touchdown passes, a rushing TD, and forcing the game-clinching fumble in a 28-21 VOL win over Lathrop.

MARK PAULE JR. (Sierra RB, Jr.)

Paule leads the section with 28 rushing touchdowns, by far, and is second behind Jennings with 1,329 yards after posting 217 yards and three touchdowns in the Timberwolves’ huge 31-20 home win over Oakdale Friday. It’s Sierra’s first home win ever over Oakdale, it’s 7-0 overall and 4-0 in the VOL and Paule is a huge reason why.


Williams had two second-half carries against McNair. And they both displayed why he’s so dangerous. They were touchdown runs of 70 and 80 yards. This guy is a beast, and Chavez needs to be wary of him when they square off Nov. 7 to finish the regular season.


Calton, in the shadows behind seniors Christian May and Wesley Dick, was the star in Cougars coach Mark Loureiro’s section-record clinching 262nd win, 41-34 over Hilmar Friday. Calton had 13 carries for 171 yards and a TD.


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Prep Football Power Rankings: Week 8

Sierra High quarterback Devin Nunez had a key touchdown pass to Hunter Johnson in Friday's win over Oakdale. (MICHAEL MCCOLLUM/FOR THE RECORD)

An autumn chill is finally here. That’s how you know high school football season is in its homestretch in Northern California.

There are three weeks left in the regular season, and several mammoth games remaining: St. Mary’s-Tracy, Sierra-Manteca and Lincoln-Tracy are all in the next two weeks.

My high school football power rankings are back, and this time, in addition to my usual top 5 – filled with large- and medium-sized schools – we’ll have a small-school power rankings. The only rule for the small schools for our coverage area is that they must have less than 1,000 students.

Here we go:

1. ST. MARY’S (1) 6-1, 2-0 TCAL

The Rams have done nothing but defend their top spot since beginning TCAL play, outscoring West and St. Mary’s by a combined 64 points. They beat Tokay 32-0 on homecoming Friday for their first shutout of the season.

Quarterback Noah Righetti seems to have found a rhythm, firing four touchdown passes Friday. St. Mary’s gets what could be its toughest league game Friday, heading to Tracy, last week’s No. 3.

ON FRIDAY: at Tracy (5-2, 2-0 TCAL), 7:15 p.m.

2. SIERRA (2) 7-0, 4-0 VOL

Another week, another historic win for the Timberwolves.

Sierra, which opened in 1994, got its first-ever home win over Oakdale, 31-20 Friday night. Junior running back Mark Paule Jr. scored three more touchdowns to make his season total 27 through seven games played.

Left on the schedule is East Union, Manteca and Weston Ranch. That Manteca game, on Halloween, is on the road, and the biggest test between Sierra, an outright VOL title and a shot at the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs.

ON FRIDAY: vs. East Union (3-4, 2-2 VOL), 7 p.m.

3. TRACY (3) 5-2, 2-0 TCAL

The Bulldogs started slow at Lodi this week but handled business eventually, winning by two touchdowns.

Tracy will have to get its passing game going against a tremendous St. Mary’s front seven this week. As fast as Nate Jones is, he may not have much room to run.

ON FRIDAY: vs. St. Mary’s (6-1, 2-0 TCAL), 7:15 p.m.

4. LINCOLN (4) 4-3, 2-0 TCAL

The Trojans got a heck of a scare Friday in Tracy, fending off upstart West 14-6 despite dominating statistically. Lincoln cannot afford to miss on opportunities in its final two games against Tracy and St. Mary’s.

ON FRIDAY: vs. Tokay (4-3, 0-2 TCAL), 7:15 p.m.

5. MANTECA (5) 5-2, 2-2 VOL

Manteca took out its frustrations from the Levi’s Stadium loss to Oakdale by pouring out 55 points in a thrashing of Kimball on Friday.

The Buffaloes’ most impressive win, though, was still Week 0 at Santa Clara-Wilcox. Manteca must show something against Sierra in two weeks to help its playoff seeding.

ON FRIDAY: vs. Weston Ranch (2-5, 1-3 VOL)

ON THE BUBBLE: West (5-2, 0-2 TCAL) is worthy of some applause, I didn’t think it would be able to stack up to the TCAL’s best even after that great preseason, and it nearly beat Lincoln, a team with a whole lot of talent… Chavez (5-2, 2-0 SJAA) proved to be the class of the San Joaquin Athletic Association by doubling up Edison 40-20 Friday. Tailback Priest Jennings (1,377 rushing yards, leading the SJSCIF) is for real…


1. ESCALON (5-2, 2-0 TVL)

The Cougars’ losses, at home against a school about double its size in Patterson, and a tough road game to Grass Valley against Bear River, are both excusable.

Escalon is experienced, and its Wing-T offense is clicking behind senior rushers Wesley Dick and Christian May. Cougars coach Mark Loureiro has more wins (262) than any other coach in Sac-Joaquin Section history, plus three state titles.

ON FRIDAY: at Riverbank (1-6, 0-2 TVL), 7:30 p.m.

2. RIPON (3-4, 2-0 TVL)

Ripon had a grueling preseason, but has started preseason play by handling Hilmar and Riverbank. That means the Indians have a real shot at the playoffs, though Modesto Christian’s inclusion in the TVL makes life difficult.

ON FRIDAY: at Modesto Christian (6-1, 2-0 TVL), 7:30 p.m.

3. CALAVERAS (3-4, 2-1 MLL)

Calaveras tested itself in the preseason and was beat up, but has a chance to finish in the two spot behind Sonora in the MLL, though Amador is 3-0 as of now and in second place. Senior Connor Hamilton is one of the best small-school tailbacks in the section.

ON FRIDAY: vs. Summerville (5-3, 2-2 MLL), 7:30 p.m.

4. RIPON CHRISTIAN (5-2, 2-2 SL)

The Knights are grinding through their Southern League schedule, with losses at Le Grand, last year’s Div. V champion, and at Gustine, an on-the-rise likely playoff team.

ON FRIDAY: at Denair (2-5, 0-4 SL), 7:30 p.m.


The Eagles are on a six-game winning streak since losing their opener, and have a chance to be CCAA champions and have home game(s) in the Div. VII playoffs. Senior tailback Dominic Spadafore is one to watch.

ON SATURDAY: vs. Brookside Christian (4-3, 3-0 CCAA) at Lincoln High, 7 p.m.


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Local Football Scoreboard and New League Standings: Week 7

Sierra High football is in uncharted territory, unbeaten and alone in first place in the VOL. (MICHAEL MCCOLLUM/FOR THE RECORD)


Sierra 31, Oakdale 20
Chavez 40, Edison 20
St. Mary’s 32, Tokay 0
Lincoln 14, West 6
Bear Creek 42, Franklin 12
Stagg 55, McNair 20
Tracy 35, Lodi 21
Escalon 41, Hilmar 34
Ripon 52, Riverbank 6
Sonora 55, Linden 7
Manteca 55, Kimball 7
Elliot Chr. 54, Turlock Chr. 16
East Union 28, Lathrop 21
Cent. Cath. 42, Weston Ranch 0
Summerville 34, Argonaut 6
Amador 56, Bret Harte 21
Gustine 23, Ripon Christian 7
Brookside Chr. 36, Big Valley Chr. 6


1. Chavez 2-0 (5-2)

T2. Bear Creek 1-1 (2-5)

T2. Edison 1-1 (2-5)

T2. McNair 1-1 (2-5)

T2. Stagg 1-1 (1-5)

6. Franklin 0-2 (1-6)


T1. Lincoln 2-0 (4-3)

T1. St. Mary’s 2-0 (6-1)

T1. Tracy 2-0 (5-2)

T4. Lodi 0-2 (4-3)

T4. Tokay 0-2 (4-3)

T4. West 0-2 (5-2)


1. Sierra 4-0 (7-0)

T2. Central Catholic 3-1 (5-2)

T2. Oakdale 3-1 (6-1)

T4. East Union 2-2 (3-4)

T4. Manteca 2-2 (5-2)

T6. Lathrop 1-3 (2-5)

T6. Weston Ranch 1-3 (2-5)

8. Kimball 0-4 (1-6)


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Stats and Breakdown: Chavez tops Edison

Chavez High wide receiver Lamar Housely (center) had a touchdown catch against Edison Friday. (CALIXTRO ROMIAS/THE RECORD)

Chavez High football is on the brink of history.

The Titans (5-2, 2-0 San Joaquin Athletic Association) are a win away from their second winning season in program history (the school opened in 2005), three wins away from the winningest season ever, and two wins away from the first-ever league championship in program history.

It’s an exciting time for the black, white and gold.

Chavez doubled up Edison 40-20 on Friday, behind another enormous night from senior tailback Priest Jennings, the Sac-Joaquin Section’s rushing leader at 1,377 yards.

Here’s my quarter-by-quarter breakdown of the game, with a complete statistical look as well:


Edison received the ball and Chavez’s Angel Meza sacked Vikings quarterback Sean Buligon to end the first drive. The Titans got it, Jennings had three carries for 65 yards and two first downs and quarterback Julius Davila hit wide receiver Lamar Housely on a 12-yard fade for a touchdown and a 6-0 lead.

The Vikings (2-5, 1-1 SJAA) returned the favor on their next drive, as Buligon dragged several tacklers into the end zone with him for a 2-yard plunge and a 6-all tie.


Chavez got it back, starting with a Jennings’ 28-yard first-down run in the first quarter, and finished with a 1-yard plunge from Davila after a first-down pass to Danny Lopez-Goodacre. Chavez led 12-6 after another failed two-point conversion.

Chavez’s Serrill Galloway made a huge third-down tackle on a Buligon keeper, and the Titans got it back to score again.

It was Jennings on a dazzling 79-yard touchdown run where he showcased his breakaway speed and his ability to break tackles mercilessly. The Titans led 20-6 after a completed two-point conversion pass to Lopez-Goodacre.

Edison showed some guts the next drive, fighting back from a 1st and 31 to score as Buligon avoided a sack and showed his athleticism on a 30-yard TD run. The Vikings’ kick failed, and they trailed 20-12.

Chavez scored once more before half on James Rankins’ 5-yard run, and another two-point hookup from Davila to Lopez-Goodacre for a 28-12 halftime lead.


Both teams traded punts to open the half. Then the Titans’ Housely returned a huge punt all the way to the Vikings’ 4-yard line.

On the first play, Jennings  burst into the end zone for a 34-12 lead.

Edison drove into Chavez territory on its next drive, but Buligon fumbled on third down and the Titans’ Noah Wallen recovered.

Quickly, the Titans struck for a final time, as Davila hit James Reed on a gorgeous 35-yard deep post for a touchdown. Chavez sacked Buligon on its next drive, but a personal foul penalty kept the drive going.

And Kiante Bell scored a touchdown on a 29-yard sweep, zig-zagging his way to the end zone. It was the final score of the night. The teams played to a scoreless fourth-quarter stalemate.


EDISON (2-5, 1-1 SJAA)


Sean Buligon: 2 of 7, 48 yards


Sean Buligon: 18 rush, 69 yards, 2 TDs, 5 sacks

Kiante Bell: 4 rush, 44 yards, TD

Ja’ Quan Williams: 7 rush, 23 yards

Jaelin Ivy: 5 rush, 20  yards

William Lewis: 7 rush, 14 yards

Juwuan Small: 1 rush, 3 yards

Shariq McNeal: 1 rush, 0 yards


Kiante Bell: 1 rec., 24 yards

Devon King: 1 rec., 24 yards

Total Offense: 221 yards (173 rushing 48 passing)

CHAVEZ (5-2, 2-0 SJAA)


Julius Davila: 6 of 10, 98 yards, 2 TDs


Priest Jennings: 20 rush, 249 yards, 2 TDs

Ira Williams: 10 rush, 47 yards

Tyrone Tyrone: 7 rush, 28 yards

James Rankins: 2 rush, 6 yards, TD

Julius Davila: 6 rush, 0 yards, TD, 1 sack


James Reed: 2 rec., 45 yards, TD

Danny Lopez-Goodacre: 2 rec., 34 yards

Lamar Housely: 2 rec., 19 yards, TD

Total Offense: 428 yards (330 rushing, 98 passing)


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Edison-Chavez Player of the Game: Priest Jennings

Chavez High tailback Priest Jennings (left) runs the ball as Edison's Kiante Bell tries to bring him down by his hair Friday at Titans Field. (CALIXTRO ROMIAS/THE RECORD)

As I watched Priest Jennings take an incredible, long touchdown run down the sideline Friday night, I could only think of the words of Mark Jackson, an NBA commentator, the former coach of the Golden State Warriors and an NBA point guard in the ’90s.

“Mama, there goes that man!”

Jennings tore apart Edison in Chavez’s 40-20 win, one which put the Titans (5-2, 2-0 San Joaquin Athletic Association) in the driver’s seat for a league championship run. Its best remaining test is against Stagg on Nov. 7 to close the regular season.

The senior Jennings had 20 carries for 249 yards, with two touchdown runs of 79 and 4 yards, and upped his Sac-Joaquin Section-leading rushing total to 1,377 yards through seven games.

That’s why Jennings is an obvious choice for my Edison-Chavez Player of the Game.

“Was that amazing, or what?” Ward said on Jennings’ long TD run.

Congratulations, Priest. Now, for some other great performances:



Buligon played like a grown man for the Vikings. He took 18 carries for 69 yards, with touchdown runs of 2 and 30 yards. It’s amazing he even gained positive yardage, as he took hit after hit and was sacked five times.

When the Vikings fought back from a 1st and 31 situation late in the first half, Buligon finished it with an improbably30-yard TD run, breaking multiple tackles and tearing down the right sideline.


Davila wasn’t perfect Friday, going 6 for 10 for 98 yards and two touchdown passes, but he often threw the ball like a college quarterback would. Like the beautiful, high-arching 12-yard touchdown fade to Lamar Housely, and the on-point 35-yard deep post to James Reed for another touchdown.

He’s an unselfish leader for this team, Ward said, and it’s showing.


Week 0: Mark Russell (Lincoln WR, Sr.)

Week 1: Marcell Spady (St. Mary’s RB, Sr.)

Week 2: Mark Paule Jr. (Sierra RB, Jr.)

Week 3: Nate Jones (Tracy RB, Sr.)

Week 4: Justin Rice (Central Catholic RB, Jr.) and Hector Soto (Manteca RB, Sr.)

Week 5: Hunter Johnson (Sierra WR, Sr.)

Week 6: Michael Brown (Tracy QB, Sr.)

Week 7: Priest Jennings (Chavez RB, Sr.)


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The Record’s Football Player of the Year List: Week 7

St. Mary's High senior Khalil Hodge (3) leads the state with 110 total tackles. (CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD)

It’s getting to the high school football season homestretch, and recently, I released a Midseason MVP Watch List in my weekly preps column.

Each week now (usually earlier in the week) we’ll do a watch list to see which players are in the running. I’ll separate them into offense and defense. How we will select MVPs, and how many there will be, is still in the works.

Here’s a look at a few names on both sides of the ball who are as good as it gets in the area.

NOTE: There is a select group of schools that I’m choosing from. This includes the entirety of the TCAL (St. Mary’s, Lincoln, Lodi, Tokay, West, Tracy) and SJAA (McNair, Bear Creek, Franklin, Stagg, Edison, Chavez), and some from the VOL (Kimball, Manteca, Sierra, East Union, Lathrop, Weston Ranch), MLL (Calaveras and Linden), TVL (Escalon and Ripon), CCAA (Elliot Christian, Brookside Christian and Millennium) and Ripon Christian from the SL.




Jennings leads the Sac-Joaquin Section with 1,128 rushing yards and is averaging over 10 yards per carry. He’s a machine with long touchdown runs, and a quiet force on that team.


The Eagles have had their ups and downs, but Brown’s numbers have been phenomenal. He’s second in the section behind Folsom’s Jake Browning and first among juniors with 2,164 passing yards, with 21 TDs.

MARK PAULE JR. (Sierra RB, Jr.)

Paule had 112 rushing yards and another touchdown in the Timberwolves’ win at Sierra last week, and he now has 1,112 yards and 24 touchdowns through six games. He’s quite versatile, and isn’t afraid to take a direct snap in a jumbo package.

More Names to Watch: Marcell Spady (St. Mary’s RB, Sr.), Demetrius Ferguson (St. Mary’s WR, Sr.), Lester Williams (Stagg WR, Sr.), Lavante Bushnell (Stagg QB, Jr.), Sean Buligon (Edison QB, Sr.), Hunter Johnson (Sierra WR, Sr.), Dakarai Charles (Manteca QB, Jr.), Chance Trammell (Lodi RB, Sr.), Michael Brown (Tracy QB, Sr.), Nate Jones (Tracy RB, Sr.)


KHALIL HODGE (St. Mary’s LB, Sr.)

Hodge was the Rams’ top returning tackler, with just over 100 as a junior. Well, he’s already surpassed that, and leads the state of California with 110 total tackles. For the record, that’s 18 per game. That’s over four per quarter. That’s a whole lot.


McCray has 42 tackles and five sacks and his ability to pursue the ball carrier is among the best I’ve seen covering high school football. One of those players where the eye test is so much better than his cumulative statistics.


Cunningham, a 6-foot, 208-pounder, must move wonderfully off the end and leads St. Mary’s with 7.5 sacks. He also had two pivotal fumble recoveries as the Rams rallied to pound West last week.


Alvarado is an absolute ball hawk for the Bulldogs, and is tied for the section lead with five interceptions after nabbing two more last week at Tokay.

More Names to Watch: Brandon Russell (Tracy S/LB, Sr.), Cutler Salmon (St. Mary’s DL, Sr.), Javonte Norman (St. Mary’s DB, Sr.), T.J. TiaTia (Lincoln DL, Sr.), Marcel Dancy (West DB, Jr.), Dom Pisano (Manteca DB, Sr.), Ronaldo Tijero (Manteca DB, Jr.).


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Friday Prep Football Predictions: Week 7

Chavez High football hosts Edison Friday in The Record's high school Game of the Week. (CALIXTRO ROMIAS/THE RECORD)

This version of The Record’s Game of the Week is one of the toughest I’ve had to predict thus far.

My high school football Friday predictions are back, with links to all of your week’s coverage and our weekly “Quick Hits” preview video. In Week 6, I went 12-3 to improve to 76-24 this season, a winning percentage of .760.

Our Game of the Week is a San Joaquin Athletic Association battle between Edison (2-4, 1-0 SJAA) and Chavez (4-2, 1-0 SJAA), kicking off at 7:15 p.m. Friday at Chavez in Stockton.

Both teams can run the ball very well. If you combined Edison quarterback Sean Buligon and Chavez tailback Priest Jennings last week, they had 452 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. Yep, not too shabby.

The question is, which defense can stand up in the SJAA? Its offensive players are putting up numbers like Oregon against Southwest North Dakota State.

Here are my week’s predictions, leading off with that Vikings-Titans matchup.

CHAVEZ 43, Edison 41

The Titans win a thriller, in one of the best games in this league this year.

Jennings will reel off a couple of 30- or 40-plus yard touchdown runs, and Buligon will keep a beating and keep on eating up yardage for the Vikings.

It’s the defensive playmakers who must rise to the occasion, like Chavez’s Darryl Kapule and Sergio Fernandez and Edison’s Ja’ Quan Williams and Kiante Bell. Chavez gets a slight edge because of home field, and because it has a bit more balance on offense behind senior quarterback Julius Davila and a great receiver in senior Lamar Housely.

SIERRA 24, Oakdale 22

The Timberwolves’ defense is up to the task of stopping the Mustangs’ Wing-T trio of Frankie Trent, Brock Whiting and Darus Nelson.

Linebacker Trevon McCray comes up huge. Oakdale will be expecting plenty of Mark Paule Jr., but I expect Sierra wide receiver Hunter Johnson to make some huge catches like he did in the Timberwolves’ win over Central Catholic Oct. 3.

LINCOLN 31, West 17

The Wolf Pack hang with the Trojans, but Lincoln has just too many guys – Mark Russell, Ronald Walker, Chris Cannady, etc. – who can run the ball effectively.


ST. MARY’S over Tokay

TRACY over Lodi

STAGG over McNair

BEAR CREEK over Franklin

ESCALON over Hilmar

RIPON over Riverbank

SONORA over Linden

LATHROP over East Union

MANTECA over Kimball

CENTRAL CATHOLIC over Weston Ranch

GUSTINE over Ripon Christian

ELLIOT CHRISTIAN over Modesto-Big Valley Christian



Monday: Local Prep Football Scoreboard/Schedule

Tuesday: Tracy-Tokay Player of the Game, Stats and Breakdown: Oakdale downs Manteca at Levi’s Stadium, Prep Football Power Rankings: Week 7, Sac-Joaquin Section Top 25 Rankings

Wednesday: Helmet Stickers: Prep Football Week 6, Players to Watch: Edison at Chavez, Latest NorCal Bowl Rankings, Sierra, St. Mary’s in MaxPreps NorCal Top 25

Thursday: X-Factors: Edison at Chavez, Latest Cal-Hi Sports State Stat Stars, Three Things to Know – Oakdale-Sierra

Friday: Prep Football Predictions, Week 7


Sunday: Manteca football’s trip to Levi’s Stadium, Oakdale hammers Manteca in second half for VOL win

Tuesday: Lincoln volleyball wins all-time thriller against rival St. Mary’s

Friday: Column on Chavez High football’s academic helmet stickers, Weekly high school football preview and capsules


Manteca football’s Levi’s Stadium experience

Oakdale football downs Manteca 42-21 at Levi’s

Lincoln volleyball shocks St. Mary’s, with celebration footage

Tracy football trounces Tokay at the Grape Bowl


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Three Things to Know: Sierra’s showdown with Oakdale

Sierra High football meets as a team during its 44-42 win at Oakdale in 2009, clinching a share of the Valley Oak League title with the Mustangs. (HIME ROMERO/THE MANTECA BULLETIN)

The Valley Oak  League champion, Sac-Joaquin Section Division III top seed and potentially, which team will qualify for a NorCal Div. II bowl game could all be decided tomorrow night at Daniel Teicheira Memorial Stadium in Manteca.

Sierra (6-0, 3-0 VOL) hosts Oakdale (6-0, 3-0 VOL) at 7 p.m. in a battle of unbeatens, of teams with great, at times smashmouth and at times unpredictable offenses, and pain-inducing defenses.

Our good friend Black Hat Football will be there, but for now, here are three things to know heading into this matchup.


Sierra opened in 1994, so it’s relatively young, but the Timberwolves have beaten the Mustangs just once: a 44-42 win at Oakdale in 2009. That was the year the Timberwolves and Mustangs split the VOL crown.

That was Oakdale’s only league loss, but Sierra slipped up in a tough road trip to Sonora.

Sierra coach Jeff Harbison was in his fifth year, and now he’s in his 10th, and you know he’d love to get one at home in Manteca. You know, plus the first place in league thing.


This isn’t just one of the best games in the area, but in Northern California.

Sierra is ranked 24th, and Oakdale 25th, in the latest MaxPreps NorCal Top 25, composed by The Sacramento Bee’s Joe Davidson.

These two are also in the top 10 of both MaxPreps’ and Cal-Hi Sports’ NorCal Div. II bowl rankings, another reason why this game is so pivotal for both teams.


Sierra High football obviously likes to run the football. That’s why junior tailback Mark Paule Jr. has 1,005 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns through five games played. However, how they’re going to do it, and when they’ll incorporate the passing game, will be interesting.

Last week in a 37-7 win over Lathrop, sophomore Marcos Castillo started at quarterback ahead of usual senior Devin Nunez, and acted as a running threat. He scored on a 30-yard touchdown run. Sierra might feed Paule on zone read runs, let Paule take a direct snap out of a shotgun, jumbo package or have Nunez throw it to talented senior wide receiver Hunter Johnson. Or who knows, Mr. Castillo, a passing, running, catching, tackling, field-goal kicking Renaissance man, could be under center.

Oakdale does a bit of everything well on defense, and it will be fascinating to see how they act on offense, too.

Manteca coach Eric Reis said last week that the Mustangs always do “fancy boy” stuff against every other team, but have a “meat and potatoes”, up-the-middle rushing attack against them. So, what do coach Merzon and company have planned for the Timberwolves? More up-the-gut stuff from fullback Frankie Trent? Power runs with Brock Whiting? Playaction passes? Sweeps with Darus Nelson? Who knows.


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Brown, Jennings, Buligon named Cal-Hi Sports stat stars

McNair High quarterback Osai Brown (left) is second in the Sac-Joaquin Section with 2,164 passing yards. (ROGER WOO/THE RECORD)

This year has seen no shortage of local football players on Cal-Hi Sports’ state stat stars list.

The latest edition, released today, has three area players, in Osai Brown, Priest Jennings and Sean Buligon.

Take a look into their weeks:


Brown got back to his dynamic aerial ways in a 42-18 win at Franklin to open San Joaquin Athletic Association play Friday, going 18 for 22 with 419 passing yards and six touchdowns, and rushing for over 70 yards as well.

He’s second in the section and tops among juniors in the SJSCIF with 2,164 passing yards, good for seventh in the state as well. Brown and McNair (1-5, 0-1 SJAA) head to Bear Creek (1-5, 0-1 SJAA) this week.

Chavez High tailback Priest Jennings (right) stiff arms Sierra's Marcos Castillo during their game Sept. 12. (CALIXTRO ROMIAS/THE RECORD)


As you’ll see tomorrow if you read my weekly high school football preview, Jennings has been quietly dominating for Chavez all season. He leads the section with 1,128 rushing yards.

And Friday, he posted 235 yards and three of the Titans’ six touchdowns in a 42-28 win over Bear Creek at home.

Edison High quarterback Sean Buligon (right) runs in his team's win over Stagg Friday night. (CALIXTRO ROMIAS/THE RECORD)


Buligon carried the Vikings on his shoulders Friday, taking 25 carries for 219 yards and five, count ‘em five, touchdowns in a 48-46 shootout win over Stagg. He and Edison (2-4, 1-0 SJAA) head to Chavez (4-2, 1-0 SJAA) for a Friday game at 7:15 p.m.


Twitter: @RecordPreps

Facebook: Thomas Lawrence

Email: tlawrence@recordnet.com

Phone: 209-546-8272

Ask a Question: ask.fm/RecordPreps

Posted in High school football, High School Sports | Leave a comment

X-Factors: Edison at Chavez

Chavez High quarterback Julius Davila fires a pass against Sierra earlier this season. (CALIXTRO ROMIAS/THE RECORD)

It’s a little bit far-fetched to say Friday’s game between Edison High football (2-4, 1-0) and Chavez (4-2, 1-0) will decide the San Joaquin Athletic Association champion.

Or, maybe not.

The Vikings poured out 540-plus rushing yards in outgunning Stagg 48-46 last Friday to open SJAA play, and Chavez posted 42 points on Bear Creek for its second straight victory.

I’ll be at their game tweeting live Friday from Chavez High starting around 7 p.m., but for now, here are three X-Factors for the matchup: The Record’s high school football Game of the Week.


The SJAA isn’t going to have a shortage of points this year. Just look around.

Chavez running back Priest Jennings leads the Sac-Joaquin Section with 1,128 rushing yards. McNair quarterback Osai Brown leads all juniors in the section with 2,164 passing yard. Stagg quarterback Lavante Bushnell and wide receiver Lester Williams are putting up huge numbers. Last week, Edison quarterback Sean Buligon had five touchdown runs, 25 carries and 219 yards.


This is not a league for the fans of 6-3, Bears-Browns games from 1932. This is about modern, high-scoring offenses. Get the ball last, and you might win.

So whichever team can muster just enough defense to make a key stop or two Friday may have the edge.


It’s easy to lose track with Chavez just how good the passing game can be when it gets going.

Julius Davila, the Titans senior quarterback, threw for 1,900 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior. This year, partially because of Jennings’ prowess, he has 872 passing yards, seven touchdowns and four picks.

If he gets in rhythm, with receivers like Lamar Housely and Danny Lopez-Goodacre, Edison could be in trouble.


Edison was the first football camp I visited as The Record’s prep sports reporter, and immediately, they told me they wanted to be the school’s first league champion since 1977. Chavez is a pretty darn new school, as it opened in 2005 and does not have a football league title yet.

In fact, the Titans haven’t had a winning season since 2007, when fifth-year coach John Ward wasn’t in charge yet. Two more wins in SJAA play will change that.


Twitter: @RecordPreps

Facebook: Thomas Lawrence

Email: tlawrence@recordnet.com

Phone: 209-546-8272

Ask a Question: ask.fm/RecordPreps

Posted in High school football, High School Sports | Leave a comment
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    Bob Highfill

    Bob Highfill has worked in The Record's sports department since 1990. He has covered a variety of sports, including high schools, Pacific and professional sports. In 2006, he was named sports editor. Bob is a graduate of Lincoln High and the ... Read Full

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    Linesburgh has been a member of The Record's sports department since 1988. A native of Wantagh, N.Y., he has covered the Stockton Thunder hockey franchise since its inception in 2005 and has spent more than two decades reporting on motorsports and ... Read Full

    Thomas Lawrence

    Lawrence became a prep and general assignment sports reporter for The Record in August 2014. He has covered high school, college and professional sports and more in his career. From November of 2011 through summer 2014, he covered college and prep ... Read Full
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