High School Sports

Wish granted: Stubbs finally gets to see 'War' Longing to see

LOS BANOS -- Dennis Stubbs always wanted to check out the "Westside War."

The problem was he's been busy on Friday nights for the past 20 years coaching at Golden Valley, Le Grand and Merced.

Tonight, Stubbs will witness the Dos Palos-Los Banos rivalry for the first time.

The first-year Los Banos coach will have a pretty good view from the sideline as the two teams play for the 68th time.

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m at Loftin Stadium.

"Living in Merced close by, you hear all about it and read about it in the paper," Stubbs said. "It's something we coaches used to talk about at Golden Valley. We'd like to go watch a Los Banos-Dos Palos game.

"It's such a great rivalry and they've been playing for so long. Now, it's like I get a front row seat."

Stubbs will try to help Los Banos end a 10-game losing streak to Dos Palos.

Dos Palos holds a 39-22-6 edge in the all-time series which dates back to 1925.

Both teams go into tonight's game looking for their first win.

Dos Palos lost to San Joaquin Memorial 7-0 last week to drop to 0-2.

"We haven't been pushing the rivalry much this week,"

Dos Palos coach Mike Sparks said. "The kids know there's a streak. They want to extend it, but we are working on getting better.

"We have to start scoring. We only had one touchdown last week. When is the last time Dos Palos has gone into week three without a rushing touchdown?"

Stubbs knows Los Banos will have to find a way to stop Dos Palos' running game.

"They've been doing it for years," Stubbs said. "Their pop warner team runs the same system. The whole town knows the system. When their kids go home their dads talk to them about their system. They just have a high level of execution and they take care of the ball."

Los Banos lost 28-23 to Central Valley last week in Stubbs' debut.

Los Banos quarterback Julio Cortez finished with 271 yards and two touchdowns.

"Their running back Casey Cotta is a quality player," Sparks said. "They have a mobile quarterback and good receivers.

"They had four or five guys with four or five receptions last week. We didn't complete four or five passes in the game."

A crowd of close to 10,000 is expected.

"Bragging rights are on the line," Los Banos defensive end Andrew Vander Poel said.

"This is the game of the year."

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