During the weekend, the Turlock Bulldogs were another of the varsity football teams in the Stanislaus District to compete in an organized scrimmage that was held at Inderkum High School in Sacramento with four total schools participating.
Competing alongside Turlock's Bulldogs were Vacaville, Inderkum and Pleasant Grove, all very competitive teams.
Inderkum was 12-1 last year and a perfect 6-0 in league while Pleasant Grove was a playoff team and Vacaville won half its games in 2015 during a progressive year where they battled in a grueling preseason schedule.
The Bulldogs were able to hold their own against these competitive teams.
“I think the fact we went into the scrimmage and competed against top tier opponents, we haven't peaked yet but we are already a better team,” said Turlock head coach James Peterson. “If we improve each week we should be up at the top in the CCC.”
It won't be an easy task but the team is highly confident with the leaders on their roster and the ability to dominate the trenches.
“All of our guys want to be champs, no runner ups, no second place and a lot of that is the work we put in during the offseason,” said Peterson. “They all worked hard and with our beautiful weight room and support... they really stepped up.”
The Bulldogs started their journey on Saturday morning after running approximately 150 plays, combining first, second and third string players in a series of offense, defense and special teams game-time scenarios.
It was also the first time the 'Dogs had the opportunity to hit somebody other than their teammates and they took advantage of it.
Senior linebacker Mustafa Noel-Johnson was wrecking havoc and dictated how the game was played at the line of scrimmage by sliding off defenders with his strength and ability to shed blockers.
He was such a dominant force that he tallied over six sacks and multiple quarterback hurries.
“Mustafa did great, had tons of sacks, would've had 10 honestly,” said Peterson. “All plays were mostly blown dead and going one touch as well but he was there early and often.”
No Bulldog sustained any injuries as the team came away clean.
Quarterback Danny Velasquez surprised many with his ability to run the ball as fast as he can.
With little help on the outside from receivers during multiple plays where the pocket essentially narrowed, Velasquez was able to take off with his legs and provide the Bulldogs with yards to keep the drive alive.
“We had a little trouble passing with timing, but it's almost the best thing that can happen, if we can't find an open receiver (Danny) takes off and that is the most impressive thing,” said Peterson of his mobile QB. “He looks bigger and more physical and is running with more power.”
“I think the biggest thing is we get to watch great film on all of our players to evaluate them,” Peterson added. “I had guys come up to me after the scrimmage and they are all excited and that was cool to see as well, several came up and said they enjoyed it and were nervous but were happy we did it.”
Turlock will open up their season with a pre-league contest against Freedom High on the road in Oakley at 7 p.m. Friday.