Predicting football is a funny thing.
When you’ve studied the teams, players, coaches and tendencies of an area for years, you get comfortable, and you get arrogant enough to pick the score. And, if you really know your stuff, you’re often right.
So when I do predictions for prep football Week 0 now, it’ s with some hesitation. Heck, I haven’t even been here for three weeks yet.
But it’s all part of the fun.
One thing that’ s different this week, though, is I won’t predict the score like I will most of the year. I need to see at least a week or two of how teams look, how their offenses function and which way I should lean.
So without further ado, here are my Week 0 predictions.
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SIERRA over Ripon
These are two returning Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoff teams, and according to my friends over at the Manteca Bulletin, it’s a bit of a rivalry renewed.
Even though Sierra loses quarterback Jake Pruitt – our top all-area QB from a year ago and a MaxPreps all-state selection – it’s got the numbers and the talent to win a close one over the Indians.
Senior wide receiver Hunter Johnson is a force, and got named to the second-team Cal-Hi Sports Preseason all-SJSCIF team. He had 12 touchdowns a year ago. And, just from the eye test, the Timberwolves have good numbers and a very big line to pave the way for offensive production.
CALAVERAS over McNair
Yes, McNair is a much larger school, but coach Curtis Perkins is just beginning to turn the program around. It takes time to build a winning foundation, which Calaveras has in place.
The Redskins, though a D-IV team from San Andreas, are coming off a 9-3 record overall and return Connor Hamilton. This guy is 1,000 yards rushing and 100 tackles in the making, judging from his junior stats.
This should be a thrilling game, but I like the proven small school over the upstart large school here, even on the road in north Stockton.
EDISON over Fair Oaks-Del Campo
The Vikings had a resurgent 2013, going 7-4, and you can bet seniors in quarterback Sean Buligon and tailback and linebacker Ja’ Quan Williams are hungry to prove themselves.
Fair Oaks was a Sacramento-area power, but has tailed off and went 3-7 in 2013.
It won’t be easy for Edison, but they prevail at home.
MANTECA over Santa Clara-Wilcox
Yes, Manteca loses a ton of talent from its section championship season and NorCal bowl run. Tailback Alex Laurel, quarterback Joe Menzel, lineman Billy Sharmoug, they’re “gone all gone” as the dad from “A Christmas Story” would say.
But the Buffaloes will be eager to avenge last year’s 28-27 OT loss at home to Wilcox, and are hungry to prove to the area and the section that 2013 was not an aberration.
Plus, Wilcox loses all of its major playmakers from a year ago. Manteca wins in an upset, and a thriller.
LINCOLN over Stagg
Besides the massive crowds and anticipation for this game, I think the product itself will live up to its billing.
Stagg could easily win this game. Let me say that first.
I just think Lincoln at home, with its experienced, massive and athletic lines (Stagg has those too, but Lincoln’s got the slight edge) with a revamped passing attack, does just enough to win. Maybe, 27-24 or so.
I cannot wait for this game, to see how the Delta Kings look after a 10-2, No. 2 seed in D-I season, and how the Trojans try and right the ship after coach Brian Gray’s first losing season.
7:30 p.m. is kickoff. Let’s get there already.
MODESTO-GRACE DAVIS over East Union
WEST over Lathrop
TOKAY over Hercules
ESCALON over Patterson
LODI over Amador
MODESTO-GREGORI over Chavez
TRACY over Oakley-Freedom
FRANKLIN over Sacramento-Johnson
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