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Bulldogs send message in win over Oakdale: Were back
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Turlock High running back Ricky Fuentes uses his speed to get past Oakdale High defenders.

A week ago, the Turlock High football team had a major breakthrough by capturing its first win in two years in the season opener.

On Friday night, the Bulldogs shattered any negative perception that had been placed on them since going winless last season.

“We really showed them tonight,” running back Ricky Fuentes pointed out.

And they did it by topping a highly respected small-school program in Oakdale High, which had an unspectacular night and fell 39-14 during the Bulldogs’ first turn at the newly renovated Joe Debely Stadium in front of thousands of fans. Senior quarterback Kevin Kramer was a walking highlight reel rushing for 134 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries, throwing a 42-yard bomb to Tyler Cook and catching a 60-yard halfback pass from Fuentes, who also had his moments.

Yes, Turlock is now 2-0.

“We’re not going to sneak up on anybody now,” Bulldogs coach James Peterson said. “Everybody’s gonna be like, ‘What’s going on at Turlock?’ For us to come out here and beat Oakdale, who’s great year after year after year after year and always get Turlock early and for us to come out and play like we did tonight, this is what we needed to do for our morale, for our kids. The whole team needed that.”

Oakdale came in with a nice reputation, after blowing out reigning state Division IV champion Modesto Christian High by 36 points in the season opener. However, the Mustangs also came in with a lot of youth: They moved up five sophomores to the varsity squad this year, while their quarterback, Spencer Thomas, is also a sophomore.

The win helped the Bulldogs forget about being humbled 56-6 by the Mustangs in 2009.

The game was basically over toward the end of the third quarter, when Kramer broke free and ahead of the Oakdale defense for a 77-yard TD and a 32-14 edge. His other two scoring rushes were from 5 and 7 yards out, as the Bulldogs used other dangerous backs, including sophomore Brandon Esquivel and his 50 punishing yards.

Fuentes finished with 14 carries for 95 yards and a 15-yard scamper that gave Turlock a 7-0 lead just 4 1/2 minutes into the game. About two minutes later, the senior — considered the ultimate utility player by his coach — threw a 60-yard halfback pass to Kramer for an early 14-0 advantage.

Kramer then engineered a 9-play drive that ended with him going in for a 7-yard TD.

“Our line, they’re not the best. They don’t make every single block, but they keep fighting,” Kramer said. “They keep fighting for me, Rick and Brandon. They keep fighting for us.”

The Bulldogs had a 20-7 halftime lead after Oakdale senior A.C. Brown had the first of his two rushing scores in the second quarter. But it didn’t matter much, as Turlock’s defense held the Mustangs to their lowest scoring output in a loss in three years.

Another defensive highlight was an interception by sophomore Dashawn Holcombe, a play that led to Kramer’s 42-yard TD pass to Cook midway through the third quarter.

Even with the convincing win, the Turlock players aren’t letting this quick turnaround get to their heads. They know what’s next, and that’s Davis High.

“This win made us smile, but once this week’s over, we’re ready for the next match,” Fuentes said.

To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.