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Shawn Jansen: Offense could dominate Westside's football war

Shawn Jansen

Well, our first full week of the prep football season is in the books.

This much we know...

Merced is still the top dog in the area.

Rubal Sangha might shatter every Los Banos receiving record.

And Buhach Colony has itself quite a running back in sophomore Corey Chapman.

Let's take a quick moment to look back at what we learned and what we can expect as we head into Week Two.

We have to start with the Westside War.

The Dos Palos-Los Banos rivalry might be the biggest in the area.

Everyone is well aware of "The Streak" -- Dos Palos has won 11 straight games over its seething neighbor.

Will this finally be the year Los Banos breaks through?

"Most of our guys grew up with the rivalry," Los Banos coach Dennis Stubbs said. "Their parents played in the rivalry.

"Trying to get that monkey off your back is just added pressure.

"It's not just the rivalry, it's 11 years in a row. That's a lot of weight on our young guys' shoulders."

Call it a hunch, but I don't think this year's game will be much like Dos Palos' 7-2 win last year.

Maybe it's because DP (1-1) has scored 85 points in its first two games and Los Banos (1-1) has tallied 83.

In other words, expect a lot of points.

"You're probably not going to win many years with seven points," Dos Palos coach Mike Sparks said.

"Maybe if we were a baseball team. A lot of times you'd be happy with seven runs.

"But we're also going to be trying to control the ball and keep them off the field with their receiver (Sangha), quarterback (Erik Martin) and big offensive line.

"They feel they have a potent offense and the points they scored in their first two games proved that."

Fans at the Westside War game will get to see two of the top receivers in Merced County.

Sangha is putting up "Showman" type numbers.

The LB senior has caught seven touchdown passes in two games and returned a kickoff 95 yards for a score.

"The guy is amazing," Stubbs said. "I'd tried telling people last year.

"He started the year slowly and came on the scene as the go-to guy in the fourth or fifth game."

Meanwhile, all Dos Palos' Hector Gomez did was haul in nine catches for 251 yards and two touchdowns in last week's 38-34 loss to Kingsburg.

Moving down the road for minute, they're still celebrating in Gustine.

And for good reason.

Friday's 38-12 win over Riverbank snapped a 19-game losing streak and made a winner of Manuel Bettencourt in his debut as Gustine's new head coach.

Felix Figueroa racked up 180 yards rushing and three touchdowns to lead the way.

Gustine's last win came two years ago with a 27-7 win in a season opener -- also against Riverbank.

"A lot of these kids -- even coming up through JV -- have never won a game in high school," said Bettencourt, who was born and raised in Gustine.

"I know it had been 19 in a row at the varsity level, so it was pretty special.

"It was nice to see these kids experience that."

Merced had plenty to celebrate about after a 61-22 thumping of Madera.

It's not a stretch to say Merced could have scored 100 points in a terribly one-sided game -- even though Merced superstar Bernard Bolden sat it out to rest a gimpy ankle.

Coach Rob Scheidt started pulling his starters midway through the second quarter with his team ahead 48-6.

The first team played just one series in the second half, which lasted just one play as running back Stephon Mathis broke a 33-yard touchdown run.

Here's the scary part.

Merced's offense will only get better as the players and coaches get more familiar with the new spread looks they've added.

Oh, yeah -- and Bolden will be back.

Shawn Jansen is a Sun-Star sports reporter. He can be reached at 385-2462 or via e-mail at sjansen@mercedsun-star.com.

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