The Buhach Colony High football team is used to opening up conference play against a Central California Conference heavyweight.
The Thunder have opened CCC play against Pitman or Turlock the last 10 years, meaning there has been no opportunity to ease into conference play.
That won’t change on Friday night with the Thunder (3-1) hosting Patterson (2-2) at Dave Honey Stadium. Kickoff is schedule for 7 p.m. Buhach Colony is trying to snap a string of four consecutive CCC opening losses.
“The way our schedule has worked out, we’ve always opened league against a contender,” said Buhach Colony coach Kevin Navarra. “Even with the new league it’s no different. Even though most of the talk has been about us and Merced, Patterson is considered a league contender.”
Patterson and Central Valley are the new teams in the CCC after the Sac-Joaquin Section realignment with Turlock and Pitman leaving for the new Central California Athletic League.
The Thunder will be the first CCC team to match up with Patterson.
“I think there are a lot of similarities between us and them,” Navarra said. “There’s not one standout individual. They are very talented on defense and the skill positions.”
Buhach Colony had one hiccup during its nonconference schedule with a 62-28 loss to Tracy. The Thunder outscored Gregori, Edison and Weston Ranch 104-40 in their three wins.
Buhach Colony is averaging 330 rushing yards per game. Youlas Dickson brought the big play element to the Thunder last week with 102 yards and one touchdown on two carries. Dickson’s night including an 88-yard touchdown run on a sweep play. He also returned an interception for 60 yards.
“Last year we didn’t ask a whole lot from him on offense,” Navarra said. “Defensively he played on the other side of LJ (Wallace) in all 11 games. It’s not a surprise to us what he’s been doing. We need to find more ways to get him the ball.”
Other CCC matchups tonight include Merced (4-0) at Central Valley (1-3) and Atwater (3-1) at El Capitan (0-4).
Falcons gaining confidence with each win
Atwater coach Seneca Ybarra has seen a change in his players with the success they’ve had early on this season. The Falcons learned a big lesson with the loss against Stagg.
Ybarra said the 33-27 loss came after a poor week of practice, which resulted in a slow first half.
The Falcons have scored 107 points in wins over Grace Davis and Pacheco the last two weeks. Quarterback Isaiah Deleon has accounted for 12 touchdowns in the last two games. Charles Jackson is currently 10th in the Sac-Joaquin Section with 629 rushing yards.
The Falcons open league play against El Capitan and Central Valley, which is two games they will be favored in. Atwater could head into their Week 7 matchup against Patterson with a 5-1 record.
Two 4-0 teams will clash when Hilmar travels to Ripon in a Trans-Valley League battle on Friday night. Both teams have been impressive during the nonconference schedule.
The Yellowjackets open TVL play at Ripon and then another showdown next week at Escalon.
Hilmar has been led by Isaac Sharp. The senior running back has rushed for 468 yards and nine touchdowns on just 28 carries. The Yellowjackets star should be well rested heading into these next two key matchups.
Expect Hilmar to also use their hammer Justin Rentfro as well. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound senior has carried the ball just 19 times through the first four weeks.
Le Grand running back Tony Garcia carried the ball a whopping 39 times last week, rushing for 306 yards in a 27-21 loss to Linden. Garcia is second in the Sac-Joaquin Section with 87 carries. He’s done it in just three games.
Garcia has rushed for 627 yards and four touchdowns.
Le Grand (1-2) hosts Denair (3-0) in its Southern League opener on Friday night.
Patterson at Buhach Colony (Buhach Colony)
Merced at Central Valley (Merced)
Atwater at El Capitan (Atwater)
Los Banos at Beyer (Los Banos)
Johnsen at Pacheco (Pacheco)
Dos Palos at Chowchilla (Chowchilla)
Hilmar at Ripon (Hilmar)
Hughson at Livingston (Hughson)
Delhi at Gustine (Gustine)
Mariposa at Orestimba (Orestimba)
Denair at Le Grand (Denair)
Sierra Ridge/ROP at Stone Ridge Christian (Stone Ridge Christian)
Last Week: 10-1. Season: 41-7 (.854).