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‘We’re just getting started’
Winless Bulldogs ready for league competition
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Turlock's Colten Mauksch and Time Sitala, Jr. stop their Clayton Valley opponent from gaining yards during the game Friday evening (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

Moments after Turlock High’s 21-14 loss to Clayton Valley Charter on Friday, which cemented a winless preseason for the Bulldogs, defensive end Logan Durkee stood in the middle of Joe Debely Stadium and put the Central California Athletic League on notice.

“We got better,” said Durkee, who possesses pro-wrestler energy with his shoulder-length hair and copious amounts — probably illegal amounts — of eye-black. “We’re not done yet. Everyone is writing us off already, but we’re not done. We’re just getting started.”

Turlock took on one of the most ambitious preseason schedules in Northern California, battling Rocklin, Clovis West, Central (Fresno) and Folsom prior to hosting the Ugly Eagles (2-2) from Concord.

After a bye week, the ’Dogs open CCAL play on a Thursday — Sept. 28 — against Gregori at Don Lanphear Stadium in Modesto.

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Turlock's Russell Spaulding hands the ball off to Kaeden Patterson during the game against Clayton Valley Friday (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

“We’re getting better,” said head coach James Peterson. “We’ve got guys from sit-out period coming in; we’ve got a heck of a player in (Jeremiah) Stine and I think our quarterback (Deuce Gonzales) is going to be back next week. Plus, we’ve got a bye week, so he’s got an extra week to get ready for Gregori.”

Trailing 14-0 just 27 seconds into the second quarter, the Bulldogs were picked off by CVC’s Henry Morse, giving the Eagles possession on the Bulldogs’ 49. 

It appeared the rout was on.

But Turlock’s defense forced Clayton Valley to turn over the ball on downs, and the offense set up shop on its own 40. Twelve plays later, the Bulldogs were on the board when Kaeden Patterson scored from 2 yards out to cut the lead in half, 14-7.

“I feel like these guys have battled,” said Peterson. “They are battle-tested, and that’s what I told you at the beginning of this thing: we’re going to be battle-tested regardless of the outcome. I feel like this game and the Central game were both games we could’ve won. We were right there in them. That gives us a lot of positive feelings going into league.”

The Bulldogs received the ball to open the second half and capped a six-play, 65-yard drive when quarterback Colten Mauksch connected with Durkee for an 11-yard scoring strike less than 3 minutes into the third quarter.

“A couple of plays here and there made a big difference,” said Peterson, whose team played without four opening-night starters. “Just to be in this game was a blessing. We played two quarterbacks tonight, the offensive line battled, defense battled, special teams did a great job. We were in this thing; just needed just one more big play to finish.”

Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, that one big play never came.

After the Eagles missed a 40-yard field goal attempt, Turlock went three-and-out on its next possession, Clayton Valley drove inside the red zone, but came away empty when THS linebacker Owen Miller, whose name was called by the PA announcer about as often as Durkee’s, picked off a pass at the 18. Half a dozen plays later, Mauksch was intercepted and Clayton Valley used the opportunity to score the go-ahead TD — a 17-yard connection from Tyson Lovett to Tony Keck. 

Turlock fumbled on its next possession, which Clayton Valley recovered near midfield with 4:09 remaining.

Turlock got one more possession, but went three-and-out. 

The Eagles marched all the way to the 1, but running back Ladawn Dortch was stopped on first and second down before time expired.