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Practice makes perfect
Turlock High scrimmages 1
Turlock High’s Jackson Mendonca goes up against Buhach Colony during a round of scrimmages Friday hosted by Central Catholic (JOE CORTEZ/The Journal).

The final dress rehearsal for the 2023 prep football season took place Friday night as teams around the region hosted scrimmages in preparation for next Friday’s openers.

Pitman High traveled south to Atwater for four-team scrimmage at 7 p.m. between Roosevelt (Fresno), Edison (Stockton) and the host Falcons.

Turlock High, meanwhile, traveled the other direction on Highway 99 for a 5:30 p.m. four-teamer in Modesto against Buhach Colony (Atwater), Calaveras (San Andreas) and host Central Catholic.

Turlock High scrimmages 2
Turlock High’s Time Sitala, Jr. goes up against Buhach Colony during a round of scrimmages Friday hosted by Central Catholic (JOE CORTEZ/The Journal).

Results of Pitman’s scrimmage were not available at press time.

Turlock turns running offensive and defensive sets, holding its own against Central Catholic in a battle of teams that reached the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I semifinals last season.

Turlock beat Edison 35-0, then upset St. Mary’s 51-50 in the quarterfinals before being ousted 24-0 by Oak Ridge on Nov. 18 in El Dorado Hills. Central Catholic defeated Stagg (Stockton) 58-19 and Monterey Trail (Elk Grove) 56-29 before falling 62-27 to eventual champion Folsom.

“I thought Turlock was Turlock,” said CC head coach Roger Canepa, the winningest active coach in the section who guided his team to four consecutive state titles between 2012-15. “They were pretty good up front and played well. I think they’ve got to be favored to win that league up there.”

Downey High may have something to say about that, being that they’re the two-time defending Central California Athletic League champions, but that’s an argument for another day.

Turlock moved the ball consistently against Buhach Colony’s defense.

“I thought our team came out and played physical in this scrimmage,” said Turlock head coach James Peterson. “We knew it was going to be tough competition with Buhach Colony, Central Catholic and Calaveras. I felt like we came out and did what we wanted to do … just be physical and not get bullied.”

Peterson said there were a few missed assignments and that needs to be tightened up before Rocklin, but he’s confident it will be.

“You can’t have blow coverages,” said Peterson. “You have to know your assignments at this point in the game. So, we’re going to look at DBs. I know there were a couple I saw, and that’s going to determine who plays next week against Rocklin, the guys were best on their assignments.”

For more information about local teams (Turlock, Pitman, Hilmar, Hughson, Denair), check out the Journal’s 2023 Prep Football Preview special section in Wednesday’s paper or online at