The Turlock High varsity football team shined on both sides of the ball Friday, surging to 2-0 in league play with a shutout victory over Modesto High on homecoming night.
“We used to make a big deal about the distractions on homecoming, but I’ve adopted it as more of a fun week for the kids…We let them have fun, but it’s not a problem unless it’s a problem if you know what I mean,” head coach James Peterson said.
The distractions of homecoming definitely weren’t a problem for the Bulldogs (5-2), who put up 45 unanswered points against the Panthers (1-6) in an offensive rout that saw five of the team’s touchdowns come courtesy of their powerhouse trio of running backs: Anthony Frias, Josiah Gonzales and Dalton Linn.
Peterson said there was some worry coming into the game that his team would underestimate Modesto, which came into the contest with just one win on the season. Those worries were quickly diminished after the Bulldogs’ first two possessions of the game — a five-play drive capped by a one-yard touchdown run from Frias, then a six-play drive that ended with a six-yard touchdown from Linn.
“I always worry when there’s a lot of talk about another team and how they haven’t won games…I always worry about the talk and the chatter amongst the locker room,” Peterson said. “We just tell them if you think you are that type of team to them, then you’ve just got to come out and show them all the work.”
Turlock’s kicker Diego Angel not only successfully completed all of the Bulldogs’ extra point attempts on the night, but also put the team up 17-0 in the second quarter with a 32-yard field goal. Then on their ensuing possession, Frias gave the Bulldogs a 24-0 lead going into halftime thanks to a monstrous 62-yard touchdown on 4th and three from Turlock’s own 38.
After the half, Gonzales kept the momentum in Turlock’s favor by adding a touchdown of his own, scoring on a 10-yard run. The Bulldogs rushed for a total of 393 yards on the night and collected 498 total offensive yards. Frias (129 yards on nine carries; 2 TDs), Gonzales (65 yards on five carries; 1 TD) and Linn (123 yards on six carries; 2 TDs) combined for a majority of the night’s offensive success with a total of 317 rushing yards.
“This is a wild team. We’ve got a lot of depth at the running back position…they all bring a little different aspect to how they run the football, so I love that about them,” Peterson said.
Kyle Rumayor also got in on the rushing touchdown action, scoring on a six-yard run in the third quarter as well. Up 38-0, Linn went in for a play at the quarterback position and made the most of it, running 71 yards into the end zone to make the final score 45-0.
The goose egg from Modesto was no knock on their offensive effort; Turlock’s defense was simply too dominant to handle with five sacks from five different players: Jacob Masihi, Everett Johnson, Rios Rogers, Tamir Bullock and Rumayor. The Bulldog defense also forced Modesto to end every drive with a punt, save for when time ran out at halftime, which put the ball back in the offense’s hands frequently and allowed them to score on seven of their eight possessions. Modesto had just 124 total offensive yards.
“We try to mix it up on defense — we don’t ever say, ‘Okay, this is our best player and this is how we’re going to do it,’” Peterson said. “Defense comes down to great tackles, and we work on tackling every day. I know a lot of teams don’t take the time to do that, but we do.”
While Linn dominated on offense and earned himself the title of The Blitz Player of the Game, he praised his team’s defense after the clock had finally run out.
“I definitely think this is one of the toughest defenses to come out of Turlock High School,” Linn said. “They put on a show every Friday night stopping people on the goal line. They’ve really saved us in some of our games and I really appreciate our defense holding it down.”
Next week, Turlock will take on Enochs (4-3) at 7 p.m. at Gregori High School.