MANTECA - The East Union football team polished off an unbeaten nonleague schedule in its home opener by beating West 49-14 on Friday at Dino Cunial Field.
East Union has now gone 3-0 in nonleague play in two consecutive seasons.
The Lancers (3-0) outscored their three opponents (Ceres, Modesto-Johansen and West) by a combined 154-34. East Union hosts Lathrop in their Valley Oak League opener at 7 p.m. Friday, while West (0-4) entertains Ceres-Central Valley at 7:15 p.m.
But even as the Lancers celebrated their victory, there was talk among team leaders and coaches about how the 2016 campaign hopefully won't be a repeat of last year's 3-0 start that ended with seven consecutive VOL losses.
"We're 3-0 going into league, but 3-0 means nothing," East Union coach Willie Herrera said. "You have to be ready to go next week. The VOL is a grinder. It's the 'black and blue' league."
After beating West, Lancers senior quarterback Jack Weaver spoke to the team in the postgame huddle, Herrera said.
"At the end of the game you have your leader step up and remind everybody that next week is super serious for us," Herrera said. "This is not the highlight of our season tonight."
Friday's game was full of highlights, however, for Weaver as he threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more. He was 8 of 13 for 94 yards and no interceptions. He also ran for 68 yards on 13 carries, but his 22-yard touchdown scramble was the best of the bunch.
Nonetheless, Weaver could only talk about how this year will be different.
"We put ourselves in a 3-0 position last year and we wanted to do that again," he said. "It puts you in a good position for the rest of the year. Two of our league opponents played (West) and barely beat them. So we wanted to come out and make a statement to the rest of the VOL that we're here to stay this year."
Weaver's offense collected 486 total yards while the defense held West to 273 yards. With its stingy defense, East Union had good field position on nearly every possession. In fact, five of its seven touchdown drives began inside West territory.
Its first possession began on the West 20-yard line after the Lancers' kickoff team forced a fumble to open the game. Weaver found Jake Harries with a 4-yard touchdown pass on fourth down for the first score.
"(The fumble) sets the tone," West coach Steve Anastasio said. "(East Union) played well and we didn't. Our numbers are thin and that makes it tough, but we'll come back next week and just keep fighting to get that win."
The Lancers led 27-14 at halftime after three more touchdowns by Luis Cortez, Mason James and Weaver. West earned its two scores on a 7-yard rush by quarterback Jake Hiltachk (11 of 21 for 183 yards, no interceptions) and a 10-yard pass to receiver Emmanuel Turner.