There is movement in the top five.
Two of my local Prep Football Power Rankings leaders lost this week, and another, my No. 1, easily could’ve against a Bay Area power.
So without further ado, let’s take a look at the new top five heading into the final week for nonleague play for the SJAA and TCAL (the VOL, SL, CCAA and MLL are already off and running).
1. ST. MARY’S (1) 3-1
Los Gatos came to the Rams’ house and was beaten for the first time this season.
St. Mary’s thrived behind a late fumble recovery by Jonah Ocon inside the 5, and three touchdown passes from senior quarterback Noah Righetti. The Rams could easily be 4-0, after a double-overtime heartbreaker loss at San Francisco-St. Ignatius in Week 3.
Rams linebacker Daniel Montijo suffered what I believe is a mild concussion at the end of the game and should be out this week.
FRIDAY: at Atwater-Buhach Colony (3-1), 7:30 p.m.
2. MANTECA (2) 3-1, 0-1 VOL
The Buffaloes lost at a lower-division team, sure, but it pushed a two-time defending CIF State Div. IV champion to the brink in losing 29-28 in OT at Central Catholic.
And if Manteca senior Hector Soto hadn’t been hurt just after halftime, he might’ve continued and helped the Buffaloes win in regulation with his angry, impressive rushing attack. Of course, Raiders sophomore stud tailback Montell Bland was out with injury, as junior Justin Rice filled in for a 22-carry, 143-yard, four-touchdown night.
FRIDAY: at Lathrop (2-2, 1-0 VOL), 7 p.m.
3. TRACY (5) 3-2
Tracy’s loss to Cal-Hi Sports Bay Area Top 25 teams in Oakley-Freedom and Concord-Clayton Valley – both by a touchdown – are about as “good” a loss as you can come by. Plus, they have senior tailback Nate Jones – the Sac-Joaquin Section’s reigning 100-meter dash champion – back and healthy.
Senior quarterback Michael Brown is coming into his own, and it may be that Tracy, not Lincoln or Tokay, is the best bet to challenge St. Mary’s in the TCAL. Stay tuned.
4. SIERRA (4) 4-0, 1-0 VOL
I thought long and hard about putting Sierra third, or even second on this list, and maybe they do deserve it.
I’m just waiting to see them against a next-level team. Hey, that’s this Friday! When Sierra hosts Central Catholic for our Game of the Week, and I’ll be there.
The Timberwolves (4-0, 1-0 VOL) are certainly formidable. We’ve talked constantly about junior running back Mark Paule Jr., who’s up to 909 rushing yards and 22 TDs. How about senior linebacker Trevon McCray, who had four sacks at Kimball Friday, or wide receiver Hunter Johnson, a tall, strong threat who had two TD catches against the Jaguars.
FRIDAY: vs. Modesto-Central Catholic (3-1, 1-0 VOL), 7 p.m.
5. LINCOLN (3) 2-3
The Trojans certainly have potential, and two of their losses – at Elk Grove and at Vacaville – are games that any local team could and probably would lose. However, Lincoln should not have lost by 30 this week, given the size on its lines and the talent it has.
Lincoln has the pieces to rise back to second on this list where it once was, and it begins against Lodi on Oct. 10 to open TCAL play.
ON THE BUBBLE: Tokay (4-1) has handled business against teams it should beat, but in its best test so far, against Modesto-Downey, it lost 35-6. Including UCLA-bound L.J. Reed should and will help, but the Tigers still have work to do to enter this top five… West (4-0) is making its school and community quite proud with its electric start, but it won’t get a true barometer either until Oct. 10 when it plays St. Mary’s. Junior Marcel Dancy is one of the local stories of the season, for sure, and has played a major role in every win… Lodi (3-1) has handled business as well, and senior tailback Chance Trammell is coming into his own. In its best test, though, it was hammered on the road at Sonora… Ripon Christian (4-0, 1-0 Southern League) is the small-school story of the year in our coverage area, led by senior rusher Brian Systma. Ripon Christian beat fellow unbeaten Newman-Orestimba 21-20 on the road Friday to stay untouched.
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