Stagg High offensive lineman Tristen Taylor (center) verbally committed to Eastern Washington Friday. (PHOTO COURTESY OF FACEBOOK)
The first of the top local prep football players have chosen their college.
Tristen Taylor, Stagg High’s 6-foot-7, 310-pound offensive lineman, verbally committed to Eastern Washington yesterday, an NCAA Division I FCS program in the Big Sky Conference with schools like Sacramento State, UC Davis and Cal Poly. Eastern Washington has produced plenty of NFL talent, and in the sports media side of things, ESPN Radio’s Colin Cowherd. Taylor will be on scholarship, he said in a message Friday.
Taylor, listed as one of the top 5 OLs in the Sac-Joaquin Section earlier this season by Cal-Hi Sports, has helped keeped Stagg’s offense flying despite a difficult 2-6 start to the season.
St. Mary's sophomore Dewey Cotton (left) had six catches for 124 yards and a nine-yard touchdown run at Tracy Friday. (CALIXTRO ROMIAS/THE RECORD)
Noah Righetti was near perfect in the first half of his Rams’ win over the Bulldogs Friday. Righetti, St. Mary’s High football’s senior quarterback, completed his first seven pass attempts for 190 yards and two touchdowns, and finished with a 12 for 16 night with 240 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.
And St. Mary’s trucked Tracy 49-29 to gain sole possession of first place in the Tri-City Athletic League.
Here is a complete quarter-by-quarter progression of the game and statistical breakdown for both teams:
St. Mary’s (7-1, 3-0 TCAL) received to open the game, and scored on an eight-play, 80-yard drive, capped by Righetti’s 30-yard strike to sophomore wide receiver Keaton Hampton for a 7-0 lead. Tracy (5-3, 2-1 TCAL) came right back, as Brandon Russell scored on an explosive 35-yard sweep. But quarterback Michael Brown, the holder on the extra point, was tackled trying to run – hard to tell if it was a bad snap or a fake try. Tracy trailed 7-6.
The Rams scored again, this time with a seven-play, 80-yard drive, with Righetti hitting sophomore Dewey Cotton for a wide, wide, WIDE open 61-yard wheel route. Marcell Spady ran into the end zone from a yard for a 14-6 edge.
St. Mary’s Javonte Norman intercepted Brown on the ensuing possession, and Righetti hit Hampton again, this time on a 41-yard seam route for a 21-6 lead.
Tracy took a drive from late in the first to early in the second, and went to St. Mary’s 35. But on 4th and 11, Norman tipped away a deep pass from Brown for a turnover on downs.
And the Rams, again, dominated, with an eight-play, 67-yard drive capped by Spady’s 2-yard TD run for a 28-6 lead.
The Bulldogs took it to St. Mary’s territory again, but a tipped pass by a defensive lineman landed in the hands of Rams linebacker Khalil Hodge, who took it all the way back to the Tracy 9. On the first play, Cotton took a sweep right for a touchdown and a 35-6 lead with three minutes to half.
Tracy got itself a lifeline, as Russell ran back a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to make it 35-14 St. Mary’s at the break after Jason Nelson’s two-point conversion run. St. Mary’s Myles Cunningham recovered a fumble near half.
Cunningham got a crucial third-down sack of Brown on the first drive, and after the punt, St. Mary’s Spady fumbled as Tracy’s Donovan Haro recovered. But again the Rams stood strong, as Cutler Salmon got a third-down sack. St. Mary’s then went on a six-play, 52-yard drive, as Righetti found Hampton for a third touchdown, this time from 12 yards for a 42-14 lead.
It was vastly impressive for Hampton, who beat out two Tracy defensive backs for the catch.
Tracy responded with its best drive of the night, a 13 play, 98-yard drive, capped by Brown’s 19-yard touchdown pass to Alvarado. Nelson ran in another conversion to cut the Ram lead to 42-22. Alvarado intercepted Righetti on the next possession, and two plays later, Brown hit Russell for a 62-yard TD to cut it to 42-29 with a little over five minutes left.
That’s when St. Mary’s milked the clock beautifully, feeding Spady six times for 43 yards, and he finished it with his third touchdown of the night.
ST. MARY’S (7-1, 3-0 TCAL)
Noah Righetti: 12 of 16, 240 yards, 3 TDs, INT
Marcell Spady: 23 rush, 127 yards, 3 TDs, fumble lost
Tavonne Johnson: 8 rush, 55 yards
Dewey Cotton: 3 rush, 15 yards, TD
Noah Righetti: 6 rush, 10 yards, sacked once
Dewey Cotton: 6 rec., 124 yards
Keaton Hampton: 3 rec., 83 yards, 3 TDs
Jake Dunniway: 2 rec., 17 yards
Demetrius Ferguson: 1 rec., 16 yards
Total Offense: 457 yards (240 passing, 217 rushing)
TRACY (5-3, 2-1 TCAL)
Michael Brown: 9 of 19, 136 yards, 2 TDs, 3 INTs
Nate Jones: 16 rush, 119 yards
Brandon Russell: 4 rush, 58 yards, TD
Michael Brown: 15 rush, 41 yards, sacked twice
Jason Nelson: 5 rush, 18 yards
Jake Alvarado: 3 rush, 8 yards
Courtney Hawkins: 1 rush, 7 yards
Brandon Russell: 1 rec., 62 yards, TD
Jake Alvarado: 6 rec., 58 yards, TD
Joshua Clarke: 2 rec., 16 yards
Total Offense: 387 yards (251 rushing, 136 passing)
St. Mary's High sophomore Dewey Cotton (front) holds onto the football for a 61-yard first down reception on a wheel route at Tracy Friday. (PHOTOS BY CALIXTRO ROMIAS/THE RECORD)
Picking a Player of the Game for St. Mary’s-Tracy, The Record’s Game of the Week, is no easy task.
Both the Rams and Bulldogs had players who changed the game with their explosiveness, their athleticism and their huge plays. But at the end of the play, it seemed like every time Dewey Cotton touched the ball was good news for St. Mary’s.
Cotton, a dynamic, 5-foot-4, 145-pound sophomore, had a game-high six catches for 124 yards for the Rams, and a nine-yard touchdown run as well. His skill set made him a nightmare matchup, even for the talented Tracy secondary.
And that’s why Cotton, a major weapon who’s developed quite a bit this season, is my Player of the Game for the Rams’ 49-29 win at Wayne Schneider Stadium.
NOAH RIGHETTI (St. Mary’s QB, Sr.)
Righetti was on-point for this game, with one mistake, an interception to Tracy’s Jake Alvarado. But he went 16 of 24 for 240 yards and three touchdowns. As of right now, he’s the best quarterback in The Record’s coverage area.
NATE JONES (Tracy RB, Sr.)
Jones, quietly but potently, persisted to take 16 carries for 119 yards. On a first-quarter kickoff, Jones nearly had an 89-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, but an illegal block negated it and sucked the life out of a raucous crowd.
MARCELL SPADY (St. Mary’s RB, Sr.)
Spady’s triumphant return to his hometown meant a 23-carry night for a game-high 127 yards and three touchdowns, including the clinching 4-yard TD run in the fourth. He was a great contender for player of the game, and Cotton edged him just by a hair.
BRANDON RUSSELL (Tracy LB/WR, Sr.)
Russell did it all for the Bulldogs last night, with a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, a 35-yard touchdown run on a sweep and a 62-yard TD reception from quarterback Michael Brown.
KEATON HAMPTON (St. Mary’s WR, So.)
Hampton, a sophomore like Cotton, was magic everytime he touched the ball. He had three receptions for 83 yards, all touchdowns, of 30, 41 and 12 yards from Righetti.
MYLES CUNNINGHAM (St. Mary’s DE, Sr.)
Cunningham, also from Tracy, had a sack and recovered a fumble on a solid night.
That makes me 90-25 this season, a winning percentage of .783.
Here are my picks for this week:
LINCOLN 28, Tokay 13
The Trojans will run the ball with authority, and while Tigers wide receiver L.J. Reed will have some success, Lincoln’s secondary like Cameron Crump will hang tough. Lincoln wins by a couple scores on a senior night.
WEST 28, Lodi 26
The Flames have home field advantage and senior tailback Chance Trammell is due for a big game, but the Wolf Pack nearly topped Lincoln last week, a team Lodi lost to by 24 points.
West keeps its playoff hopes healthy and improves to 6-2.
ST. MARY’S 28, Tracy 17
This is going to be a great game from beginning to finish, and the Rams pull away just slightly at the end. Tracy could easily win this game, but the Rams’ defensive front seven negate the Bulldogs rushing attack enough to give their offense a chance to get in rhythm.
If Tracy can create turnovers by picking off St. Mary’s quarterback Noah Righetti or forcing a fumble or two, it would be instrumental. But I see the Rams improving to 7-1, 3-0 TCAL.
St. Mary's High football has beaten Tracy in at least six straight dating back to 2002. (THE RECORD FILE PHOTO)
It’s been a long, long time since Tracy High football has beaten St. Mary’s, Bulldogs coach Matt Shrout told me Tuesday. In fact, he think it’s been since his team’s stadium’s namesake, Wayne Schneider, was coach in the mid-’90s since it’s happened.
According to MaxPreps and Cal Preps, the Rams have beaten the Bulldogs in at least six straight dating back to 2002. They used to be San Joaquin Athletic Association foes, and before that Tracy was in the Valley Oak League. Now, they have a Tri-City Athletic League battle Friday at 7:15 p.m. in Tracy.
Here’s a look at the four recent games, detailed by MaxPreps, from the past decade of action.
ST. MARY’S 34, TRACY 6 (Nov. 9, 2012)
The Rams closed out the regular season at home with a drubbing of the Bulldogs.
Junior quarterback Kaleb Parrish threw for two touchdowns and 124 yards, and had 90 rushing yards and another TD. Tracy quarterback Luke Hannah, who was sacked three times, had the Bulldogs’ only score on a rushing TD.
ST. MARY’S 56, TRACY 26 (Nov. 16, 2007)
St. Mary’s knocked Tracy out of the section playoffs in a rout, as junior quarterback Cody Vaz went 14 of 21 for 230 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Brandon Warren ran for 131 yards and two more touchdowns, and Pat Jemerigbe and Gerome Surrell combined for 11 catches, 187 yards and three TDs.
Bulldogs senior Tim Celestine was mighty, taking 21 carries for 246 yards and three touchdowns, but it wasn’t enough.
ST. MARY’S 47, TRACY 13 (Oct. 7, 2005)
St. Mary’s didn’t turn in stats for this game, but Tracy’s Stephen Lytle and Curtis Worth ran for the team’s only two touchdowns.
ST. MARY’S 30, TRACY 16 (Oct. 1, 2004)
Willie Tuitama, who went on to quarterback Arizona, went 16 of 25 for 208 yards, a touchdown and an interception for the Rams. Anthony Carruesco had 103 rushing yards and two TDs for St. Mary’s. Justin Guest had an interception return for a touchdown for the Bulldogs.
Chavez High tailback Priest Jennings (right) stiff arms Sierra's Marcos Castillo during their game Sept. 12. (CALIXTRO ROMIAS/THE RECORD)
It was a big week for San Joaquin Athletic Association football.
Both of the local entrants on the latest Cal-Hi Sports State Stat Stars are from the SJAA, in Chavez senior running back Priest Jennings and Stagg sophomore wide receiver and defensive back Cutrell Haywood.
St. Mary's High's Javonte Norman (right) stiff arms Tracy's Brandon Russell during their freshman football game in 2011. (PHOTO FROM THE TRACY PRESS)
I’m not sure many seats will be left at Wayne Schneider Stadium come Friday at sundown.
Tracy High football (5-2, 2-0 Tri-City Athletic League) hosts St. Mary’s (6-1, 2-0 TCAL) at 7:15 p.m., in a showdown that could decide the future league champion. Lincoln (4-3, 2-0 TCAL), of course, could have something to say about that.
The Bulldogs haven’t beaten the Rams in about two decades, probably since the stadium’s namesake Schneider was coach, Tracy coach Matt Shrout told me Tuesday. St. Mary’s looks to keep on a track to a high seed in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoffs.
STRENGTH VS. STRENGTH
St. Mary’s defensive front seven is one of the best in the section, anchored by state tackles leader Khalil Hodge (129; 18 per game). And, Tracy runs the veer, and senior tailback Nate Jones is the real deal and a defending Sac-Joaquin Section 100-meter dash champion.
Something’s gotta give.
The Bulldogs’ secondary is also one of the best units in the section. Senior safety Jake Alvarado has five interceptions and cornerbacks Will Alexander and Joshua Clarke can play. Well, the Rams have been on fire throwing the ball, and quarterback Noah Righetti went 18 of 23 for 243 yards and four touchdowns last week.
Something’s gotta give there, too.
EMOTIONLESS AND UNDER STRESS
Tracy is not only looking for first place in the TCAL and its first win in this series in a long time, but has some extra motivation. Several St. Mary’s players live in or are from Tracy, and the players are quite familiar with each other. That makes this a very familiar, personal, emotional matchup.
Whichever team can put all that aside and focus on protecting the football and cashing in on opportunities has the upper hand.
St. Mary’s senior tailback Marcell Spady is one of those players who hails from Tracy. He was out last week from injury, but he’s back, and if he’s at the top of his game running between the tackles, it gives the Rams an inherent edge. With that, they could avoid attacking that Tracy secondary every play.
Keaton Hampton and St. Mary's High football are up to 13th in the latest MaxPreps NorCal Top 25 rankings. (MICHAEL MCCOLLUM/FOR THE RECORD)
Another edition of the NorCal football Top 25 rankings is out, brought to you by MaxPreps and The Sacramento Bee’s Joe Davidson, and two local teams stay strong in there.
St. Mary’s (6-1, 2-0 Tri-City Athletic League) advanced to 13th from 14th after skunking Tokay 32-0 in its homecoming Friday. And Sierra (7-0, 4-0 Valley Oak League) remained at No. 24 after a pivotal 31-20 home win over VOL foe and No. 25 Oakdale.
Looking around at the rest of the Top 25, Oakdale stayed at No. 25, just tied with Elk Grove-Franklin now. St. Mary’s beat No. 15 Los Gatos 35-32 at home earlier this year, and lost at No. 17 San Francisco-St. Ignatius 28-24 in double overtime.
St. Mary’s travels to Tracy (5-2, 2-0 TCAL) for a crucial league game Friday at 7:15 p.m. — I’ll be there tweeting live updates — while Sierra hosts East Union (3-4, 2-2 VOL). Timberwolves coach Jeff Harbison has never lost to EU.
It's a homecoming for Marcell Spady and several of his St. Mary's High football teammates Friday at Tracy High.
Both St. Mary’s and Tracy High football took a tour of some of the Bay Area’s best talent this preseason. The Bulldogs (5-2, 2-0 TCAL) fell in heartbreakers to Oakley-Freedom and Concord-Clayton Valley Charter, while the Rams (6-1, 2-0 TCAL) edged Los Gatos, thumped Santa Rosa-Cardinal Newman and lost a gut-wrenching, double-overtime, Saturday afternoon game at San Francisco-St. Ignatius.
Now, the two meet for the reason they developed such tough preseason schedules: a run at a Tri-City Athletic League championship.
Tracy hosts St. Mary’s Friday at 7:15 p.m. in The Record’s prep football Game of the Week. I’ll be there tweeting live, and our own Kevin Hecteman will be on-site running our weekly live football chat.
For now, here are a couple players to watch for both teams.
KHALIL HODGE (St. Mary’s LB, Sr.)
How can I not talk about the state leader in tackles? St. Mary’s Hodge has 129 of them through seven games, an average of 18 per contest.
He heads the Rams’ nasty defensive front, and will have to contain Bulldogs tailback Nate Jones and quarterback Michael Brown.
BRANDON RUSSELL (Tracy WR/LB, Sr.)
Russell shouldn’t even be marked down at one position. He’s a wide receiver and a running back. He’s a linebacker, a cornerback and a safety, basically. He’s a stud on both sides of the ball.
And on defense this week, he must contribute in coverage on St. Mary’s wide receivers like Demetrius Ferguson and Javonte Norman, and help stop the rushing attack: headed by Tracy native and St. Mary’s senior Marcell Spady.
MARCELL SPADY (St. Mary’s RB, Sr.)
Speaking of Spady, he’s one of several Tracy natives on this team.
And he’s returning from injury as he missed last week against Tokay.
Spady is a beast out of the backfield, but the Bulldogs will have some motivation against a familiar face.
NATE JONES (Tracy RB, Sr.)
The Bulldogs have a ton of talent, a lot of leaders and are focused on selfless football.
But Nate Jones is the heart and soul of this team, it seems like.
And Jones, whenever he gets a glimmer against that St. Mary’s defense, will need to have a big play or two to make this happen at Wayne Schneider Stadium.
Tracy High football is back in the mix, on a five-game winning streak after losing to two Bay Area powers (Oakley-Freedom and Concord-Clayton Valley Charter) to open the season.
Here’s a look at the Top 25 for Week 8, with the rankings, the team, last week’s ranking in parenthesis and overall record. Local teams are bolded:
SAC-JOAQUIN SECTION TOP 25
1. Folsom (1) 7-0
2. Sacramento-Grant (2) 7-0
3. Rocklin (3) 7-0
4. Carmichael-Jesuit (4) 6-1
5. Elk Grove (5) 5-2
6. St. Mary’s (6) 6-1
7. Vacaville (10) 5-1
8. Sierra (8) 7-0
9. Merced (10) 5-2
10. Oakdale (9) 6-1
11. Sacramento-Inderkum (11) 7-1
12. Granite Bay (12) 5-2
13. Elk Grove-Franklin (13) 5-2
14. Loomis-Del Oro (15) 3-5
15. Elk Grove-Monterey Trail (14) 5-2
16. Modesto-Central Catholic (17) 5-2
17. Sacramento (18) 6-1
18. Modesto-Downey (21) 7-1
19. Rio Linda (22) 6-1
20. Manteca (23) 5-2
21. Modesto (NR) 6-2
22. Napa (25) 5-2
23. Tracy (NR) 5-2
24. El Dorado Hills-Oak Ridge (16) 4-4
25. Turlock-Pitman (19) 5-1
St. Mary’s (6-1, 2-0 TCAL) finally pitched a shutout with that nasty defensive front seven, downing Tokay 32-0 for its second TCAL win. The Rams get their toughest TCAL test, traveling to Tracy, which hasn’t beaten St. Mary’s in around two decades.
Sierra (7-0, 4-0 VOL) stood strong at No. 8 after beating Oakdale 31-20 at home, the first time the Timberwolves have beaten the Mustangs at home in 19 varsity seasons. Mark Paule Jr. ran for 210 yards and three touchdowns, and he leads the section with 28 total rushing TDs.
Manteca (5-2, 2-2 VOL) roundhoused Kimball 55-7 to redeem itself from the Levi’s Stadium loss to Oakdale. Junior quarterback Dakarai Charles sparkled, going 5 for 5 passing for 115 yards and two touchdowns, and rushing for 85 yards and another TD.
Tracy (5-2, 2-0 TCAL) is on a five-game winning streak, and overcame a slow start at the Grape Bowl to beat Lodi by two touchdowns.
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
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
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