STOCKTON - The countdown to league play has officially begun.
Most area leagues begin in two weeks, which means there’s two weeks left to fix mistakes, grab wins and gain momentum heading into the second half of the season.
The Lodi and Edison High football teams certainly fit these molds.
“We’re both 1-2,” said Lodi head coach George Duenas. “We’re both looking for a win here to spark us going into league. It’s a big game for both of us.”
The Flames will take on the Vikings at 7:30 p.m. today. The game will be played at Bear Creek High instead of the Grape Bowl with the Lodi Grape Festival in full swing.
The teams meet each other with identical records. Edison started the year with a big win over Vanden, only to be brought back down to earth with back-to-back losses.
The last two weeks exposed sins that the first win hid, Edison coach Booker Guyton said. Now, the Vikings will match up against a rush-happy Lodi team that’s also lost two straight, but nearly upset Stagg in a 41-37 loss last week.
“They like to run a lot,” said senior Nate Banks Roberts, Edison’s leading tackler at 49. “We need to not let them get outside of us. Keep them inside, and rally to the ball.”
On the Lodi sidelines, Flames first-year coach George Duenas said the team has shown encouraging signs with its play so far this season. It’s a young group that’s made mistakes he said, but hasn’t made the same mistake twice.
The Flames still need to work on their red-zone offense, Duenas said, something that may have cost them against Stagg. At the same time, Lodi’s defense will be tasked with keeping Edison’s leading rusher, freshman Raleek Brown and his 289 yards, under control.
The young Viking seems to know as much.
“It feels good to me,” Brown said. “I have to work harder, because I know they’re gunning for me.”
Manteca (2-2) at Central Catholic (3-1), 7 p.m.: The Buffaloes 54-18 blowout win against Tracy in Week 3 was exactly the kind of win they needed to gain some steam heading into tonight’s matchup in Modesto. They are, however, taking on a Raiders team that already squashed St. Mary’s earlier in the season and is off to a strong start overall.
Manteca’s offensive potential shouldn’t be overlooked, with quarterback Ryan Ward and receivers Jorge Cedano and Jacob De Jesus leading a powerful attack.
“We’re going to fight no matter what. That’s what we do, that’s what we’ve always done,” Manteca head coach Mark Varnum said. “Hopefully, we can play like we did (last week), and we’ll see what happens.”
Reno-Damonte Ranch (3-0) at St. Mary’s (0-3), 7 p.m.: The Rams head into their home opener having already endured the program’s worst start since 2005. And, for the third straight week, it might not end tonight.
Damonte Ranch is unbeaten on the season, with an offense led by senior quarterback Cade McNamara (690 passing yards, seven touchdowns) and senior Derrick Knoblock (433 yards, eight scores).
One of the bright spots so far for St. Mary’s has been its young running back tandem. Sophomore Tyrei Washington has 135 yards and 5.2 yards per carry, and junior Taj Morris has 128 yards and a 4.0 rushing average.
Waterford (3-0) at Ripon Christian (3-0), 7:15 p.m.: Fresh off its trip to the Division VII section championship, Ripon Christian hasn’t skipped a beat. The Knights are 3-0, and senior running back Michael Kamps has ran for 399 yards and seven touchdowns.
Waterford is also undefeated so far on the season, with a rushing attack led by seniors Michael Vivo (280 yards) and Jacob Stout (270).
Modesto (2-1) at Franklin (0-3), 7 p.m.: The Yellowjackets are still searching for their first win on the season, though it hasn’t been due to lack of effort on the part of senior Felipe Figueroa.
The senior running back has 471 yards on 45 carries for four touchdowns. He also leads the team in receiving, with seven catches for 82 yards.
The Panthers, meanwhile, have notched wins against Beyer and Patterson before their contest with Franklin.
MORE AREA GAMES
7 p.m. kickoffs: Sonora (0-4) at West (2-2), Sierra (2-2) at Kimball (2-2) Davis (1-2) at Mountain House (3-0), Oakdale (3-1) at East Union (1-3), Arroyo (0-3) at Amador (4-0), Ceres (0-3) at Lathrop (0-3). 7:15 p.m. kickoffs: Fortuna (3-1) at Tracy (2-2), Tokay (0-4) at McNair (1-3). 7:30 p.m. kickoffs: Bradshaw Christian (2-1) at Calaveras (0-3), Hilmar (4-0) at Ripon (4-0).
7 p.m. kickoffs: Delta Charter (0-4) at Turlock Christian (0-4), Chavez (3-1) at Oakland (1-2).