X-Factors: Stagg-Lincoln Football Showdown

Lincoln High football coach Brian Gray breaks his team out of practice Wednesday. Lincoln hosts Stagg Friday at 7:30 p.m. (THOMAS LAWRENCE/THE RECORD)

There’s plenty to love about Lincoln High football’s Spanos Stadium.

The artificial turf that feels like pristine, real grass. The old-school bleachers and modern press box looming above the new field. And, my favorite part, the fans in the stands are right on top of the players on the sidelines.

And that should be a heavy presence on both sides Friday  night.

Lincoln hosts Stagg at 7:30 p.m. to open the high school football season, as Stockton (and maybe San Joaquin County’s) premier matchup.

Stagg is coming off a 10-2 season, and a No. 2 seed in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs. Lincoln was 4-1 in league but 4-7 overall last year, and was  blasted in the first round of the D-I playoffs by Sacramento-area power Folsom and QB Jake Browning (Washington commit).

With that in mind, here are three X-Factors for Friday’s game:

MEN IN THE TRENCHES

At Lincoln’s practice today, I heard their linemen affectionately called “The Big Dogs” by an assistant.

And the Trojans’ and Delta Kings’ “big dogs” will be instrumental Friday night.

Especially when Stagg has the ball, as 6-foot-7, 310-pound offensive lineman Tristen Taylor must protect against a gnarly Lincoln line: with Rodney Jones, Eric Leapaga, Jermiah Mendoza and Jordan McMiller.

Whichever team wins the war in the trenches should have the upper hand to having a comfortable rhythm on offense and a season-opening win.

YOUTH UNDER CENTER

Both starting quarterbacks, Stagg’s Lavante Bushnell and Lincoln’s Colby Dickson, are juniors and new to guiding a team Week 0.

Dickson, though, was already a quarterback, while Bushnell is a converted wide receiver.

How Bushnell is able to cope with pressure from the Trojans, because yes, it’s coming, and use his speed to his advantage should determine if Stagg can win this thing.

Both guys have great senior wide receivers to throw to, in Lincoln’s Mark Russell and Stagg’s Lester Williams.

DISTRACTIONS 

While this is not an arch rival-type game (see: St. Mary’s-Lincoln or Franklin-Edison), the smack talk has been flying on social media and I assume throughout both schools this week.

Couple that with the atmosphere at Spanos Stadium, and the outlying crowd and chatter could have an affect on this game.

Whichever team stays above the noise Thursday and, more importantly, Friday night, has a mental edge that is much more important than you might think.

WEEK ZERO COVERAGE

MONDAY: Players to Watch (Stagg-Lincoln), Locals Honored by Cal-Hi Sports, MaxPreps

TUESDAY: Week Zero Local Schedule

WEDNESDAY: X-Factors (Stagg-Lincoln)

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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    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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