For some teams, the real season begins Friday.
League play starts and there are a couple of games with a lot at stake.
The Bee’s sports reporter Julian A. Lopez and football writer Jim Silva highlight their games to watch for this week along with predictions: (Note: They do not predict games they will be covering):
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Ripon (4-0) at Hilmar (4-0), 7 p.m. at Hilmar High School
Hilmar, the Bee’s No. 2 ranked small-school team, hosts No. 4 Ripon in the Trans-Valley League opener for both teams. Ripon has beat Hilmar in the last two meetings. Hilmar has seven players with at least one rushing touchdown and the Yellowjackets are averaging nearly 10 yards per carry. Ripon has outscored opponents 173-39 and senior quarterback Nico Ilardi has 12 touchdowns.
Jim Silva: Covering game.
Julian A. Lopez: Ripon 28, Hilmar 24. The Indians have the Yellowjackets’ number lately and despite a smaller roster, the Indians have playmakers all over the field.
Central Catholic (0-4) at Manteca (3-1), 7 p.m. at Manteca High School
It’s getting to the make-or-break part of the season for the Raiders, who are still looking for their first win. Since joining the Valley Oak League in 2014, Manteca has yet to beat Central Catholic. Senior quarterback Ryan Ward has 12 touchdowns and one interception for the Buffaloes.
JS: Central Catholic 27, Manteca 24. Desperate times for the 0-4 Raiders, who can turn around their season in a hurry with a win. It’s going to be a battle.
Julian A. Lopez: Covering game.
Central-Fresno (4-0) at Turlock (3-1), 7 p.m. at Turlock High School
After a 14-6 win over Sheldon, Turlock, the No. 3 large-school team, hosts Central from Fresno. The Grizzlies are the No. 1 ranked team by the Fresno Bee and they are ranked No. 16 in the state by MaxPreps. Central has 28.5 tackles for a loss while Turlock senior running back Anthony Frias has over 320 rushing yards in his last two games.
JS: Central-Fresno 21, Turlock 10. Love the Bulldogs’ defense, but they’re going against MaxPreps.com’s 16th-ranked team in the state.
JL: Turlock 21, Central-Fresno 17: This will be Central’s toughest test yet and the Bulldogs can match the Grizzlies’ physicality.
Downey (3-1) at McClymonds (3-0), 7 p.m. at McClymonds High School
After a tough loss to Escalon, the Knights travel to Oakland to face the three-time defending CIF State Champions. Last year, Downey lost to McClymonds, 20-14. The Warriors have allowed 35 points in their three wins this year.
JS: McClymonds 42, Downey 17. The Knights, coming off a loss to small-school Escalon, go to Oakland to face an offensive juggernaut. Won’t be pretty.
JL: McClymonds 35, Downey 21: Despite a small roster, the Warriors are physical. Downey has a bye next week to re-group.
Buhach Colony (4-0) at Patterson (3-1), 7 p.m. at Patterson High School
Coming off of a 35-15 win over Modesto, Patterson hosts No. 4 Buhach Colony in a Central California Conference matchup. The Thunder have been one of the strongest teams in the area with wins over Edison, Gregori, and Tracy while the Tigers have a strong 1-2 backfield duo with junior Jordan Imada and senior Obadiah Godbolt.
JS: Buhach Colony 35, Patterson 10. The Tigers come off a couple of nice wins, but they just can’t match up with the powerful Thunder.
JL: Patterson 38, Buhach Colony 35. I picked the Tigers to win the CCC and this will be their toughest league game.
Week 5 Schedule
7 p.m.: Downey at McClymonds, Beyer at Los Banos, Pacheco at Johansen, Mountain House at Davis (Gregori HS), Franklin-Stockton at Modesto (Downey HS), Central Catholic at Manteca, Riverbank at Modesto Christian, Big Valley Christian at Woodland Christian, Central Valley at Merced (Golden Valley HS), Lathrop at Ceres, Central-Fresno at Turlock, East Union at Oakdale, Buhach Colony at Patterson, Livingston at Hughson, West at Sonora, Ripon at Hilmar
7:15 p.m.: Gregori at Livermore, Ripon Christian at Waterford, Orestimba at Mariposa County, Le Grand at Denair
7:30 p.m.: Pitman at Monterey (Monterey Peninsula College)