What kind of team will Merced be?
Stephon Mathis received the answer he wanted Friday night.
The senior running back scored four touchdowns as Merced crushed Madera 61-22 in the season opener at Stadium '76.
"We wanted to come out, set the tone and find out what kind of team we are," said Mathis, who racked up 160 yards on just 12 carries.
"I think we're a pretty good team."
Merced scored 34 points in the first quarter alone with one of its top weapons, Bernard Bolden, standing on the sideline.
"It's kind of what I expected because I know what we're capable of," said quarterback Allen Huddleston who tossed two touchdown passes and ran for another score in his first career start.
"I know we're capable of more because Bernard wasn't out there. That's one more weapon."
Madera (0-2) was in over its head for the second straight week.
Last week, it was a 69-10 thumping against Fresno Edison.
It was a score many Merced players and coaches had on their minds with Merced facing Edison in two weeks.
"I think it's only natural," Merced coach Rob Scheidt said. "I believe Madera is a well-coached team. I know they are down in numbers.
"The important thing is we wanted to jump out quick and remind them of last week.
"Our guys did a good job of that."
Huddleston and Mathis weren't the only stars.
Eddie Beavers hauled in two touchdown throws and Patrick Franey made some clutch catches, including an 18-yard touchdown.
However, Merced knows the three week gauntlet of Napa, Edison and Loomis Del Oro begins next week.
Merced travels to Napa to face the defending Sac-Joaquin Section Division I champs on Friday.
"We know it's going to get much tougher," Beavers said. "We need to have a big week of practice."
Shawn Jansen is a Sun-Star sports reporter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.