AHL is hot issue for Thunder

The old saying goes like this: “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire”

And the Stockton Thunder may have found the Flames which will ignite a move to a higher league.

The hot rumor is that the NHL’s Calgary Flames will purchase the Thunder and move it up to the American Hockey League. This would make the Thunder the hockey equivalent of a Triple A team in baseball such as the Sacramento River Cats.

Neither side will confirm or deny it. And even if true, a transfer to the AHL is complicated and could take a few years to pull off. But this would be a very good thing for Stockton hockey.

The team would be run by an NHL franchise, which is a great situation. And the AHL game is simply better than the ECHL. Good ECHL players get promoted to the AHL, whose stars can move up to the NHL.

Things should get much clearer in the next month. But there seems to be a lot of truth to these rumors, and it would be a welcomed move.

FRIDAY’S GAME
The Thunder played hard and tried to come from behind again. Idaho won 3-2.

The game started late because the ref wqas late getting to the arena, so comments from the players and coach Rich Kromm did not appear in the game story. So here’s a few:

Kromm talking about early special teams goals which gave Idaho a 2-0 lead: “One was a shorthanded opportunity where our defense got caught flat footed and weren’t able to recover and the other was just a simple missed pass that went right on their tape. We handed that one to them and without those mistakes I think we walk away with a win”

Forward Mike Pereira about his third period goals: “I don’t know what happened exactly. I was chasing a guy to the back of the net and ended up just getting the loose puck. We were trying to emphasize getting action in front of the goalie’s eyes and [Adam] Phillips made a great play getting it through. I didn’t get much on it but it was enough I guess.”

FIGHT NIGHT
Stockton’s Alex Mallet showed an interesting and affective style in his second-period fight with Gaelan Patterson. Mallet unloaded at least 10 quick left-handed jabs before unloading a big overhand right. Little doubt who won that one.

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Hoops Notebook: Bruins, Rams, Trojans rolling

Bear Creek's Andre Green (right) rises up for a shot in the McDonald's Classic Saturday at Delta College. (CRAIG SANDERS/SPECIAL TO THE RECORD)

Quietly, but impressively, it’s been a heck of a sports season for Bear Creek High school.

Bruins volleyball won its first ever league championship, sweeping through the San Joaquin Athletic Association unbeaten, while the football team finished at .500 and was a win away from a playoff berth.

Bear Creek girls basketball has been tough to beat early on, and boys basketball is undefeated and just won the 5th annual McDonald’s Classic tourney, hosted by Edison.

Andre Green scored 19 points last night and Brandon Moss and John Berna added 13 points each as Bear Creek topped Lathrop 66-56 to improve to 9-0. I’ll be at the Tokay-Bear Creek boys game Wednesday at 7 p.m.

*****

St. Mary’s girls basketball, ranked second in the state by Cal-Hi Sports to start the season, and 10th in MaxPreps’ latest national Xcellent 25, overpowered its opponents at the Iolani Classic tourney in Hawaii.

The Rams averaged 83 points a game in dismantling Honolulu-Roosevelt, Honolulu-Iolani and Konawaena of Kealakekua, Hawaii, and are 3-0.  Junior Kat Tudor and heralded freshman Aquira DeCosta are leading the way, averaging 15 points a game each. DeCosta (15.0 PPG) is slightly ahead of Tudor (14.7) in that category. Scarily, DeCosta, already 6-foot-2, is averaging 10 rebounds a game.

St. Mary’s boys basketball is thriving as well, at 6-2 with a tough schedule, led by Lance Coleman II‘s 22 points per game.

*****

A little down the street, Lincoln girls basketball is performing well too, 5-1 thus far after beating visiting Oakland 62-49 Thursday. In that game, talented sophomore Zahria Hendrix unloaded 23 points, hit 9-of-9 free throws and sank four 3-pointers.

****

Look out for Sierra boys basketball in the VOL, Bear Creek in the SJAA and St. Mary’s and Tracy in the TCAL. Brookside Christian and Elliot Christian are both talented small-school teams in the CCAA as well. The Weston Ranch and Manteca girls in the VOL, Lincoln and St. Mary’s in the TCAL and Bear Creek in the SJAA are worth watching as the season unfolds.

CONNECT WITH THOMAS LAWRENCE

Twitter: @RecordPreps

Facebook: Thomas Lawrence

Email: tlawrence@recordnet.com

Phone: 209-546-8272

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Best of the Best: Local Football Stat Kings of 2014

Sierra High tailback Mark Paule Jr. (20) finished with 45 rushing touchdowns in 2014. (CALIXTRO ROMIAS/THE RECORD)

High school football season has come and gone. The Record’s All-Area Football team is in the works, but for now, here’s a look at the leader in statistical categories (passing yards, passing TDs, rushing yards, rushing TDs, receiving yards, receiving TDs on offense; tackles, sacks and interceptions on defense).

OFFENSE

PASSING

Yards and TDs

OSAI BROWN (McNair, Sr.) Brown finished third in the Sac-Joaquin Section and second among juniors with 3,229 passing yards, adding an area-best 33 touchdown tosses with 15 interceptions. Look out for him and returning wide receivers Sharif Van Hook and Sean Hamilton to contend for an SJAA title next season.

RUSHING

Yards and TDs

MARK PAULE JR. (Sierra, Jr.): Paule surpassed the 2,000 yards mark in Sierra’s season ending Division III quarterfinal loss to Rio Linda, finishing with 2,024. He also led the Sac-Joaquin Section with 45 rushing touchdowns (MaxPreps has him at 43, but I think it’s missing ones against Central Catholic and Oakdale).

RECEIVING

Yards

SEAN HAMILTON (McNair, Jr.): Hamilton was seventh in the section and second among juniors at his position with 1,119 receiving yards, to go with 68 catches total and 11 TDs.

TDs

STEPHEN GUDINO (St. Mary’s, Sr.): Gudino sped toward the top of this list as the year progressed, finishing with 12 TDs, tied for fifth in the section. What’s so impressive about that is he had five heading into Week 10. Then he had two each against Lincoln, River Valley and Rocklin, and another at Elk Grove in the Div. II semifinals.

***

DEFENSE

Tackles

KHALIL HODGE (St. Mary’s, Sr.): This one’s no surprise. Hodge led the United States of America, according to MaxPreps, with 262 total tackles: that’s about 19 a game. What a season, and he’s got NCAA D-I FCS offers from Sacramento State and Weber State of the Big Sky Conference.

Sacks

WILL KAMPS (Ripon Christian, Jr.): Kamps showed up big time for the Knights, finishing with 16 total sacks though 12 games.

Interceptions

JAKE ALVARADO (Tracy, Sr.): Alvarado did it all for the Bulldogs, including hauling in nine interceptions, tied for third in the section and best in Div. I.

CONNECT WITH THOMAS LAWRENCE

Twitter: @RecordPreps

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Email: tlawrence@recordnet.com

Phone: 209-546-8272

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St. Mary’s girls ranked nationally by MaxPreps

St. Mary's girls basketball and Angel Johnson are ranked 10th in MaxPreps' latest Xcellent 25 list. (PHOTO COURTESY OF MAXPREPS)

St. Mary’s girls basketball is already in the limelight.

The Rams, who dropped 98 points on Honolulu-Roosevelt Thursday in a Hawaii tourney, were ranked second in the state in Cal-Hi Sports’ preseason rankings. Now, St. Mary’s is 10th in MaxPreps’ Xcellent 25 national girls hoops rankings.

St. Mary’s (1-0) moved up to 10th from 13th on the prior list. The Rams have one of the most touted freshmen in the nation in Aquira DeCosta, and junior sharpshooter Kat Tudor, who has received collegiate interest from across the Pac-12.

Below are the Xcellent 25 rankings (Note, these were released before St. Mary’s played its first official game Thursday).

*****

1. (2) McEachern (Powder Springs, Ga.), 5-0

2. (6) Oakland (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), 6-0

3. (NR) Long Beach Poly (Calif.), 4-0

4. (3) Chaminade (West Hills, Calif.), 8-1

5. (8) Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.), 7-1

6. (9) Potter’s House Christian (Jacksonville, Fla.), 11-1

7. (15) Neumann-Goretti (Philadelphia), 2-0

8. (10) Rock Bridge (Columbia, Mo.), 3-0

9. (11) Blackman (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), 6-1

10. (13) St. Mary’s (Stockton, Calif.), 0-0

11. (12) Long Island Lutheran (Brookville, N.Y.), 1-0

12. (4) Myers Park (Charlotte, N.C.), 6-1

13. (14) Bedford North Lawrence (Ind.), 8-0

14. (7) Elizabethtown (Ky.), 3-1

15. (NR) Bishop McNamara (Forestville, Md.), 4-0

16. (NR) Montini (Lombard, Ill.), 8-0

17. (1) Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.), 3-1

18. (22) Northside (Fort Smith, Ark.), 6-0

19. (21) Gonzaga Prep (Spokane, Wash.), 2-0

20. (16) Leavenworth (Kan.), 0-0

21. (18) Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.), 2-1

22. (20) Braintree (Mass.), 0-0

23. (23) Lawrence North (Indianapolis), 4-0

24. (24) Millennium (Goodyear, Ariz.), 7-0

25. (25) Miami Country Day (Fla.), 11-0

CONNECT WITH THOMAS LAWRENCE

Twitter: @RecordPreps

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Email: tlawrence@recordnet.com

Phone: 209-546-8272

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By the Numbers: Sac-Joaquin Section Football Playoffs

Sac-Joaquin Section football’s championship weekend provided some shock and heartbreak for St. Mary’s football. Tracy had that, too, but after its incredible underdog run through the playoffs, No. 1 Folsom proved too much for any team in the area. Probably even Grant, who it plays Friday in a NorCal Division I bowl.

To take a look back at an incredible postseason, I’ve created a “By the Numbers.”

4: Tracy football trailed in all four playoff games. It gave up a nearly-immediate touchdown at home before eventually beating Turlock 21-19 in the first round. It trailed Jesuit 38-27 after three quarters on the road in Carmichael in the quarterfinals, but won the fourth 21-0. It was losing at Granite Bay, too, before a stunning 27-21 overtime win. And of course, it never led in the final against Folsom.

To have trailed in all four games and won three, though, against Turlock, Jesuit and Granite Bay, shows the kind of intestinal fortitude this team had.

5: Stephen Gudino, St. Mary’s senior wide receiver, was underrated most of the year, and shined with five touchdown receptions in the playoffs: two each against River Valley and Rocklin and another at Elk Grove in the semifinals.

69: Elliot Christian faced Brookside Christian in the Division VII semifinals and dropped 69 points. Sierra also scored 69 points in thumping Rosemont to open the Div. III playoffs.

1: With Elliot Christian’s victory, it earned the program’s first-ever playoff win. This season, it also won its first league championship.

3: Granite Bay had a field goal lined up, tied with Tracy at 21 near the end of regulation. But Bulldogs coach Matt Shrout used all three of his timeouts, eventually icing the kicker and sending the game to overtime.

56: St. Mary’s, ruled an underdog by some in its home quarterfinal against Rocklin, hung 56 points en route to a running clock fourth quarter.

7: In Elliot Christian’s win over Brookside Christian, senior Dominic Spadafore posted a career-high seven rushing touchdowns.

220: In Folsom’s 55-7 Div. I title game win over Tracy, quarterback Jake Browning threw six touchdowns to reach a new national record of 220.

68: Against a vaunted Elk Grove rushing attack, St. Mary’s defense held the Thundering Herd to 68 first-half rushing yards and no points.

2: St. Mary’s, which lost 21-14 to Grant in the Div. II championship, had two touchdowns that almost were: a Marcell Spady run near the goal line and 4th and goal, and a pass from Noah Righetti to Dewey Cotton where Cotton dove for the end zone but was ruled short. MaxPreps took the photo below, which seems to indicate Cotton should’ve received a touchdown.

CONNECT WITH THOMAS LAWRENCE

Twitter: @RecordPreps

Facebook: Thomas Lawrence

Email: tlawrence@recordnet.com

Phone: 209-546-8272

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Mat Matters: California Wrestler Preseason Top 40 Rankings

Kimball senior Reese Chew (left) is ranked No. 12 in the 138-pound class in the state by The California Wrestler. (TRACY PRESS FILE PHOTO)

As hard as it is to believe, winter sports season has taken over.

And high school wrestling is beginning. The California Wrestler, one of the top coverage sites for the sport, has a top-40 rankings for each weight class in the state. There are 10 local wrestlers who have made those lists, and I’ve broken that down here.

NOTE: The Record’s coverage area includes all TCAL and SJAA schools, and the VOL minus Central Catholic and Oakdale. We also cover Ripon and Escalon from the TVL, and focus on Calaveras and Linden in the MLL. There are no small schools involved in these rankings, at least locally.

***

113

No. 11

GREG VILORIA (West, sophomore) – Last year, Viloria won the TCAL title and three more tournaments.

No. 28

AARON RUGNAO (Bear Creek, junior) – Rugnao won the SJAA 106 title last year.

120

No. 16

ALEX OLIVERA (Lincoln, junior) – Olivera took home the SJAA and Sac-Joaquin Section Div. 1A in 113s, and went 2-2 at the CIF State finals in Bakersfield.

138

No. 12

REESE CHEW (Kimball, senior) – Chew finished seventh in the section, and went 2-2 at state.

195

No. 23

A.J. CAMARENA (Escalon, senior) – Went 2-2 at the SJSCIF meet last year and made it to the quarters.

220

No. 17

YATES HUNTER (Lincoln, senior) – Hunter, more than just a talented fullback, went 2-2 in the SJSCIF 220s bracket.

285

No. 28

JARRED KIRK (Calaveras, senior) – Kirk went 0-2 at sections a year ago.

No. 29

CLINT SCHALLBERGER (Tokay, senior) – Advanced to the SJSCIF quarterfinals in 2014.

No. 35

TRISTAN SMITH (Ripon, junior) – Smith went 1-2 at the section finals last year.

No. 38

HECTOR SOTO (Lodi, senior) – In the top 40, and plenty to prove (in a good way).

CONNECT WITH THOMAS LAWRENCE

Twitter: @RecordPreps

Facebook: Thomas Lawrence

Email: tlawrence@recordnet.com

Phone: 209-546-8272

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Complete Statistical Breakdown: St. Mary’s-Grant and Tracy-Folsom

St. Mary's senior Dwight Jackson stands heartbroken after his team's 21-14 section title game loss to Grant. (CRAIG SANDERS/SPECIAL TO THE RECORD)

I’ve already released my Players of the Game for St. Mary’s-Grant and Tracy-Folsom Sac-Joaquin Section championship games. Now, here’s a look at each game’s individual statistical breakdown. Thanks to the good folks at Sacramento State for the St. Mary’s-Grant stats. Tracy-Folsom is all my own.

SAC-JOAQUIN SECTION DIVISION II FINAL

Grant 21, St. Mary’s 14

ST. MARY’S (12-2)

Passing

Noah Righetti: 9 of 20, 129 yards, INT, sacked twice

Rushing

Marcell Spady: 13 rush, 44 yards

Tavonne Johnson: 5 rush, 22 yards

Noah Righetti: 7 rush, 15 yards

Receiving

Demetrius Ferguson: 4 rec., 78 yards

Dewey Cotton: 3 rec., 23 yards

Keaton Hampton: 2 rec., 28 yards

Total Offense: 210 yards (129 passing, 81 rushing)

GRANT (14-0)

Passing

Donovan Brown: 7 of 15, 183 yards, TD, INT

Rushing

Deondre Whittington-Grays: 18 rush, 94 yards, TD

Donovan Brown: 8 rush, 45 yards, TD

Mike Green: 9 rush, 44 yards

DeShawn Collins: 6 rush, 20 yards

Receiving

Ariyon Huff: 4 rec., 126 yards, TD

Xavier Cox: 2 rec., 36 yards

Gerald Brown: 1 rec., 21 yards

Total Offense: 386 (203 rushing, 183 passing)

*****

SAC-JOAQUIN SECTION DIVISION I CHAMPIONSHIP

Folsom 55, Tracy 7

TRACY (10-4)

Passing

Michael Brown: 6 of 14, 34 yards, TD

Rushing

Nate Jones: 12 rush, 93 yards

Jake Alvarado: 2 rush, 20 yards

Jason Nelson: 3 rush, 17 yards

Michael Brown: 18 rush, 4 yards, sacked 6 times

Brandon Russell: 3 rush, 0 yards

Receiving

Nick Tobeck: 2 rec., 16 yards

Nate Jones: 1 rec., 13 yards, TD

Jason Nelson: 2 rec., 3 yards

Josh Clarke: 1 rec., 2 yards

Total Offense: 168 yards (134 rushing, 34 passing)

FOLSOM (14-0)

Passing

Jake Browning: 29 of 43, 387 yards, 6 TDs, INT

Rushing

Bryan Weldy: 9 rush, 63 yards

Bailey Laolagi: 5 rush, 53 yards

Tre Green: 10 rush, 8 yards

Jake Browning: 1 rush, 1 yard, TD

Receiving

Cole Thompson: 5 rec., 153 yards, 2 TDs

Josiah Deguara: 9 rec., 103 yards, TD

Jake Jeffrey: 7 rec., 57 yards, 2 TDs

Bailey Laolagi: 3 rec., 26 yards

Tre Green: 2 rec., 23 yards

Parker Boone: 2 rec., 14 yards, TD

Bryan Weldy: 1 rec., 7 yards

CONNECT WITH THOMAS LAWRENCE

Twitter: @RecordPreps

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Email: tlawrence@recordnet.com

Phone: 209-546-8272

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Helmet Stickers: Prep Football Championship Edition

St. Mary's senior Demetrius Ferguson (right) dives into the end zone to complete his kickoff return for a touchdown Friday. (BRIAN BAER/THE SACRAMENTO BEE)

It was incredible weekend for San Joaquin County high school football. And, specifically, the Tri-City Athletic League.

St. Mary’s, the outright TCAL champ, and Tracy, the league’s runner-up, both played in Sac-Joaquin Section championship games at Sacramento State’s Hornet Stadium. Tracy fell 55-7 to a juggernaut of a Folsom team Saturday in the Division I final, after St. Mary’s lost a 21-14 heartbreaker to Grant on a cold, rainy Friday night.

DEMETRIUS FERGUSON (St. Mary’s WR, Sr.)

Ferguson provided the most electric play of the night to open the second half. The New Mexico State commit took the kickoff back 94 yards for an incredible touchdown, giving the Rams their only lead: 14-7. He also led St. Mary’s with four catches for 78 yards. Ferguson caught a 46-yard pass from quarterback Noah Righetti on the final possession, bringing the Rams to Grant’s 6-yard line and giving them a chance late.

NATE JONES (Tracy RB/LB, Sr.)

Jones, who had just one carry in the first half, finished with 12 carries for a game-high 93 yards against Folsom. He also caught a 13-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Michael Brown for Tracy’s only score, and had a 6-yard run and fumble called a turnover and touchback. This replay, though, seems to indicate Jones was in.

KODI THRUSTON (St. Mary’s CB, Sr.)

Thruston has been an underrated cover cornerback for St. Mary’s all year, and did it again Friday. He blocked a Grant field goal, preserving a 7-all time, and got an interception near halftime.

JAKE SERRATO (Tracy DB, Sr.)

Serrato has a story to tell his grandkids about.

When Folsom quarterback Jake Browning, after thriving at the University of Washington, thrives in the NFL, wins a couple Super Bowls and makes the Hall of Fame, Serrato can say, “Hey, I intercepted that guy.”

Serrato, falling backward, nabbed Browning’s fifth interception of the year, in the first half.

CONNECT WITH THOMAS LAWRENCE

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Phone: 209-546-8272

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Championship Gameday Glance: Tracy-Folsom

Tracy High football's (from left) Josh Clarke, Jake Alvarado, Nate Jones, coach Matt Shrout, Haiden Hall and Brandon Russell, are ready to fight for the school's first section title since 1987. (CALIXTRO ROMIAS/THE RECORD)

The day Tracy High football fans have been waiting for since the Reagan administration is here.

Tracy (10-3) plays in its first Sac-Joaquin Section championship game since 1987, as the No. 7 seed, facing No. 1 Folsom (13-0) in the Division I title bout at 7 p.m. at Sacramento State’s Hornet Stadium.

NOTE: I’m not using “Bulldogs” because both teams are Bulldogs.

WHO: No. 7 Tracy (10-3) vs. No. 1 Folsom (13-0)

WHERE: Sacramento State’s Hornet Stadium

WHEN: 7 p.m. today

TICKETS: $12 for adults, $8 for students and seniors, children 5-and-under free

*****

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Jake Alvarado (Tracy WR/S, Sr.): Alvarado seems to be at the apex of every big play for Tracy. He has nine interceptions and can score as a rusher or receiver.

Jake Browning (Folsom QB, Sr.): You probably know this name. Browning has over 4,500 passing yards, with 76 touchdowns, a state record for a single season, and four interceptions.

Nate Jones (Tracy RB, Sr.): This is the player Tracy coach Matt Shrout calls the heart and soul of the team. He has 1,300 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns, and you can bet Tracy goes to him often, trying to grind out long drives to keep Browning and company off the field.

Cole Thompson (Folsom WR, Sr.): Thompson, one of several viable targets for Browning, is talented and smart — he’ll study and play football at Harvard.

*****

X-FACTOR: One of Tracy’s major strong suits is its secondary, with Alvarado, Josh Clarke and Will Alexander, among others, and it needs to use that to throw some different looks at Browning and company. Folsom never punts, writes The Sacramento Bee’s Joe Davidson, so Tracy must stand up when it gets a fourth down.

CONNECT WITH THOMAS LAWRENCE

Twitter: @RecordPreps

Facebook: Thomas Lawrence

Email: tlawrence@recordnet.com

Phone: 209-546-8272

Ask a Question: ask.fm/RecordPreps

 

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St. Mary’s-Grant Player of the Game: Demetrius Ferguson

St. Mary's senior Demetrius Ferguson sits and catches his breath after running back a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. (THOMAS LAWRENCE/THE RECORD)

Before the Sac-Joaquin Section football Division II championship game Friday night, St. Mary’s senior Demetrius Ferguson stood alone, listening to music on headphones and dancing and bouncing around, getting in his zone.

His focus translated to the big stage, too, as the senior wide receiver had a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to open the second half. And Ferguson had a team-high four catches for 78 yards.

Ferguson’s 44-yard reception from quarterback Noah Righetti in the final minutes was pivotal, giving St. Mary’s a final chance before it fell just short, 21-14 to Grant.

And that’s why the talented Ferguson is my Grant-St. Mary’s Player of the Game.

Ferguson finished his senior season with team highs of 41 catches and 828 yards, with 10 total touchdowns. He’s verbally committed to NCAA Division I New Mexico State.

HONORABLE MENTION

DONOVAN BROWN (Grant QB, Sr.)

Brown was absolutely beastly on the championship stage, with the game-winning, 1-yard touchdown run on a 4th and goal in a tie game in the fourth quarter, and a pivotal 41-yard playaction touchdown pass to Ariyon Huff. That TD pass was responding to Ferguson’s kickoff return, which swung back much of the momentum to the Pacers.

St. Mary's cornerback Kodi Thruston bats down a pass in the first half against Grant Friday. (CRAIG SANDERS/SPECIAL TO THE RECORD)

KODI THRUSTON (St. Mary’s CB, Sr.)

Thruston has been one of the Rams’ most underrated players all year. He and Lazarus Ford did an amazing job in the secondary making plays. And Friday, Thruston blocked a Grant field goal and intercepted Brown late in the first half to send the game tied at 7 into halftime.

CONNECT WITH THOMAS LAWRENCE

Twitter: @RecordPreps

Facebook: Thomas Lawrence

Email: tlawrence@recordnet.com

Phone: 209-546-8272

Ask a Question: ask.fm/RecordPreps

 

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    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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