It's been a while since the words "fun" and "Modesto Metro Conference" have been appropriate to use in the same sentence during football season. But that's changed with an influx of creativity when it comes to creating offensive schemes. And it's not only Downey that has introduced new elements into its offense:
Modesto High, doing a much better job mixing the run with the pass, rolled up 48 points in a surprising romp over Johansen Friday night. The Panthers' Andre Barry might be the best receiver in the district not wearing a Downey uniform, and the duo of James Ingram and Arquel Rogers mean there is always a fresh running back.
Beyer is a scoring machine with Justin Usiak under center, but the junior was injured Friday and left a game for the second time this fall. He threw for 290 yards before leaving.
Enochs, 0-4 and average 12 points two weeks ago, had 48 to top Beyer in Friday's MMC opener and has a total of 75 points in its last two games.
Davis, which has no rival in the MMC when it comes to talent, runs in a crew of backs to pile up yards. If it can integrate outstanding receiver Lance Castaneda in the offense — he was virtually invisible this week — the Spartans could find some playoff success.
This week's best game is likely to be Modesto (3-3, 1-0) vs. Davis (4-2, 1-0) at Downey. It's a difficult matchup for the Panthers, considering Davis' overwhelming advantages in depth and talent, but it's a game Modesto can win if it duplicates Friday's error-free outing in the 48-13 win over Johansen.
VOL SHOWDOWNS — The Valley Oak League, the Stanislaus District's top circuit and one of the best medium-school leagues in the state, will feature one gargantuan showdown each of the final four weeks. It starts Friday, with No. 2 large-school Sierra (6-0, 3-0) looking to extend its best-ever start with a victory as it visits No. 3 Sonora (5-1, 2-1).
A potential battle of unbeatens was spoiled when Sonora fell 37-13 to Manteca. The loss wasn't a stunner — the Buffs have been a dominant program for a decade — but the final score was. Sonora was allowing only 15 points a game and scoring 31, but still provided no match for Manteca.
In the final three weeks of the regular season, the big games will involve No. 1 Oakdale (6-0, 3-0). It hosts Manteca (4-2, 2-1) and Sierra, then visits archrival Sonora in Week 10. The Mustangs have scored 55 or more points three times this season and are outscoring their foes 43-10.
STATS WATCH — Downey's Jason Lee was the nation's No. 6 passer after five games, and he could climb higher after throwing for 451 yards in Thursday's 35-24 loss to Davis. Lee is now averaging 386 passing yards a game. The national leader going into this weekend's games was Texan Josh Dorman (388 passing yards a game).
Lee shattered school records with 38 completions and 67 attempts, and set the single-season mark with 2,315 yards with four games left. He has 20 touchdown passes, and the school mark is 21.
He's not the only quarterback who went off this week: Central Catholic's Dylan Swartz and Linden's Austin Alvarez each threw four touchdown passes, and Mariposa's Jarrett Leonard and Summerville's Zach Roberson threw five apiece.
LOPSIDED LEAGUES — It didn't take long for the traditional small-school powers to take charge in league play. In the Trans-Valley, Western Athletic and Southern leagues, the combined scores of winners vs. losers was 417-70 — or an average score of 46-8. They included 63-0, 60-13, 44-0, 42-0, 50-14, 55-19 and 40-7. The only "close" games were 32-13 and 31-14.
It's become an annual dilemma, as powers such as Escalon, Patterson, Modesto Christian, Central Catholic and Mariposa overwhelm weaker league opponents. It puts all the emphasis in a few games — Hilmar at Central and Mariposa at Le Grand on Friday, and Patterson at Central and Escalon at MC on Nov. 6.
WEEK 10 BATTLE? There's still plenty of football to be played in the Central California Conference, but it's difficult not to look ahead at a potential championship game on the final night of the regular season. That's when Pitman (4-2, 2-0) visits defending champ Merced (2-4, 2-0) at Merced College — they're the only teams without a conference loss.
The once-woeful Bears have won two in a row, with three-point wins over Los Banos (6-3) and Buhach Colony (33-30). Meanwhile, the utterly impressive Eric DeAnda set a school record with 303 yards rushing against Buhach Colony. Wendell Mathis, who later went on to Fresno State and the Minnesota Vikings, had the old record of 281 yards.
Merced's next three opponents are a combined 6-12, while Pitman has contenders Atwater and Los Banos, then Golden Valley in Week 9.
AROUND THE SECTION — Worlds collided Friday, as Del Oro "upset" Granite Bay 27-21 in OT. Both were 5-0 and Nos. 3 and 2, respectively, in The Sacramento Bee poll. Del Oro is No. 1 in the CalHiSports.com Division 2 Bowl poll, while Oakdale is No. 4 and Sierra is No. 8. ... Tracy (6-0) ended a 14-year losing streak by beating Lincoln 37-21. Tracy will be favored in its remaining games, and a 10-0 record could give it the No. 1 seed in the Division I playoffs.
CALAVERAS 18, AMADOR 12, at Sutter Creek — Monti Wilson was the workhorse, carrying a career-high 40 times for 236 yards and the game-winning TD in the fourth quarter as the Redskins (3-3) rallied past the Buffaloes (3-3). Calaveras led 10-6 at halftime, thanks a Matt Pekarcik's 17-yard field goal and Chris Ussery's TD pass to Connor Seawell.
Amador had kept it close with Clayton Daneri's 13-yard scoring toss to Clinton Tremmelling in the second quarter, then went ahead in the fourth quarter on Mike Lane's 1-yard TD run — though both PAT kicks were blocked to leave it at 12-10. Wilson's 3-yard run, and Colton Berg's two-point conversion pass to Ussery, capped the victory.
The Redskins piled up 419 yards offense, including 329 on the ground, but they were hurt by 16 penalties for 155 yards. Daneri was 18 of 29 for 226 yards, but the 'Skins intercepted him twice.