Turlock High football coach James Peterson has said it before: There are no weak teams in the Central California Conference.
The good news is, the Bulldogs faced the league’s top team last Friday night, but that doesn’t mean their schedule gets any easier. After battling defending league champion and state-ranked Buhach Colony High in a closer-than-it-looks 33-14 loss, Turlock now prepares for the always tough Merced High Bears, who are coming off a 34-6 disposal of Atwater High last week.
And just because the Bears are 3-3 overall doesn’t mean Peterson and his Bulldogs (4-2, 0-1 CCC) are expecting to win this Friday night’s meeting at Golden Valley High.
“In a lot of ways,” Peterson said, “I feel Merced is a more complete team than Buhach.”
He added, “If we let Merced have good field position all night, they will truly test our defense. They can spread the ball around throwing/running and they also have a nice short-yardage power run game.”
Against Buhach Colony, which sits at No. 15 in the Cal-Hi Sports state rankings, Turlock prepared well for the Thunder’s run game, highlighted by the fact that the Bulldogs held them to 147 rushing yards — 212 below their season average. But that allowed Buhach Colony to attack more frequently through the air.
Thunder senior quarterback Nick Datray completed 7 of 8 passes for a career-high 164 yards and one touchdown (a 26-yard toss to tight end Roger Klauser). Buhach Colony pulled away from just a 10-6 lead in the third quarter after two rushing scores by Leon Miles and Stefon Gold and an interception for a TD by Tyler Dew.
The Bulldogs had their moments, too.
With two Buhach Colony offside penalties, Turlock sophomore quarterback Sean Downs threw a 30-yard TD pass to Tyler Cook late in the first half. That was followed by a rushing score by Downs and an Erick Parsons two-point conversion in the fourth quarter.
Downs was 4 of 17 for just 52 yards. He also rushed nine times for 64 yards.
On defense, Parsons finished with 10 tackles, two behind the night’s tackle leader in Johnny Padilla. Kyle Hatcher and Anthony Lopez collected a sack each.
After Merced, the Bulldogs will continue their tough road schedule next week at Golden Valley before wrapping up the season at home against Atwater High and Pitman High in the Harvest Bowl.
“Playing on the road has been difficult this year,” Peterson said. “It seems like all of our tough games have came on the road. We are really working on our team focus this week. We are challenging our guys to really concentrate in order to minimize the mistakes. If we can get the win this week, we will have tons of momentum leading up to next week in our final road game.”
Hilmar to play in historical contest Friday
It didn’t take long for Hilmar High to finish off Modesto Christian High on Friday night in Salida. Actually, it just took two quarters.
By then, the Yellowjackets were ahead by at least 35 points, enough to green-light a running clock in the second half. They won 59-20, but were well ahead with a 52-14 halftime lead in a game that was expected to be closer, considering it was between two of the league’s favorites.
Hilmar (6-1, 3-0 TVL) is the favorite once again in this Friday’s homecoming matchup against Riverbank High, which will mark the school’s 100-year anniversary. The game is set for 7:30 p.m.
Riverbank, which fell to 3-4 overall after capturing three wins in the first four games, is coached by Jim Oliver, a former Turlock High assistant. The Bruins are 0-3 in league play.
The Bruins will go up against a well-rounded Hilmar squad.
Quarterback Andrew Olson finished with 176 yards and two touchdowns after completing 7 of 10 passes, and he ran in a 49-yard score. Kurtis Bettencourt made all eight of his extra-point kicks and a 30-yard field goal, and Garrett Jericoff, Ryan White and Zack Giuliano each had a pair of TDs.
Thirteen Hilmar players rushed the ball, with Olson, White and Giuliano finishing the night with at least 50 yards each.
To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.