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TVL football teams leery of season with Modesto Christian
TVL football
Hughson and Escalon football teams would both lose home game gate revenue and a league game matchup if Modesto Christian forfeited when the season begins (Journal file photo).

Trans-Valley League coaches and athletic directors are in limbo due to the precarious status of the Modesto Christian High School football program.

According to numbers provided by the Sac-Joaquin Section, MC has an enrollment of just 77 students. Additionally, in an email sent to TVL principals and athletic directors, it was pointed out that the school currently has no athletic director or principal.

Outgoing AD Greg Pearce said the program currently has fewer than 20 players. That’s enough to field a team, but not enough to realistically be competitive in the rugged TVL, long considered the best small-school football conference in all of California.

Hughson head coach Shaun King, whose Huskies are slated to play MC in the final week of the regular season Nov. 1, is actively looking for a replacement.

"We’ve been talking to other teams and working with a team right now that will play us, and give us a home game,” said King. “If MC somehow, miraculously, puts together a varsity team and we commit to another school, we’d be looking at forfeiting a league game, which hurts our chances for league title.”

Orestimba High School opens TVL play with the Crusaders on Sept. 20, when they would be less likely to forfeit.

“It’s still a concern for us, but we’re less worried,” said Warriors head coach Aaron Souza. “They won’t be as banged up at that point in the season.”

Sonora and Escalon also host MC this year, and both are looking for games.

“I’m reaching panic mode more and more after reading that email that was sent (Friday),” said Escalon head coach and AD Andrew Beam. “It’s really unfortunate for everybody. It puts us in a really bad spot. Games are not going to be easy to find.”

“That would be our Senior Night,” said Sonora head coach Kirk Clifton, whose powerhouse program is leaving the Mother Lode League to join the TVL this fall. “That’s a big gate for us.”

Modesto Christian was once a small-school power, winning a state championship in 2009 and playing for a section title as recently as 2017. However, since the departure of head coach Mike Parsons after the 2018 season, when the Crusaders reached the section semis, the program has posted an anemic 10-29 record.

The school’s basketball team, which has won more Sac-Joaquin Section championships that any other school, remains successful, having played for the CIF’s Open Division title in 2022.

The boys basketball team plays in the Stockton-based Tri-City Athletic League, while all its remaining athletic programs are set to compete in the Southern League.

Pearce and associate AD Robb Spencer both served their last days with Modesto Christian on Friday. Pearce said he would have preferred to have made a decision on the fate of the season by the end of June.

The email to TVL principals and athletic directors stated that newly hired coach Michael McFadden will begin limited practices with the team July 15. McFadden coached Turlock Christian’s eight-man program last season.

“I don’t know what the plans are now for a drop-dead date,” said Pearce.