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Three Lodi youth football teams in today's Mother Lode Super Bowl

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Posted: Friday, November 24, 2000 10:00 pm

For the first time ever, all three Lodi tackle youth football teams will be playing for a league championship.

The Lodi Bobcats' varsity, junior varsity and bantam squads compete today in the Mother Lode League Super Bowl at Linden High.

The junior varsity Bobcats are looking to defend their title won last year.

. The second-place varsity Bobcats bring an 8-2 record into their 10 a.m. game against Linden. One of their losses was to Linden, 13-6, while the other was to Calaveras in a monsoon, 12-6.

The Bobcats run the ball behind tailback Matt Esparza, who had rushed for more than 1,500 yards.

"He's probably the fastest back in the league," coach Phil Robertson said.

Scott Gaines has gained more than 500 yards on the ground. Quarterback Justin Jensen has thrown for more than 600 yards, while completing 50 percent of his passes.

The Lodi varsity squad is averaging three touchdowns a game, while giving up about nine points a game. Gaines is the big hitter on defense, averaging 20 tackles a game from his middle linebacker spot.

"We have the two best defensive ends in the league," Robertson said, referring to Matt Peluso and Drew McCurdy. "They keep everything in the box", where Gaines can make the tackle.

Gaines did not play in the loss to Linden. Robertson noted Lodi got beat on a halfback option pass.

. The junior varsity Bobcats come into Saturday's noon kickoff in first place, boasting a 9-1 record.

Their lone loss was to Sonora. However, they will be facing the Bret Harte Packers in the title contest.

"It should be pretty close," coach Jeff Harris said, noting Lodi only won by one touchdown.

Salvador Gutierrez carries the bulk of the offensive workload for the Bobcats, rushing for 1,500 yards and 13 touchdowns.

"That's pretty amazing considering he's our fullback," Harris said.

Kyle Foreman and Justyn Metler also give Lodi quite a punch on the ground, having rushed for 700 and 500 yards, respectively behind a strong offensive line that includes left tackle Johnathon Harris, left guard Michael Burgoz, center Matt Burgoz, right tackle Eric Ruggiero and right tackle Josh Whitfield.

Quarterback Jason Beilstien had thrown for 675 yards, as Lodi averaged more than 18 points a game.

Defensively, the Bobcats have recorded five shutouts while yielding less than an average of two touchdowns a game.

Gutierrez is the leading tackler. Gage Conrad also has been touch on defense.

. The bantam Bobcats enter Saturday's 2 p.m. contest against the Amador Nuggets with a 6-2 record. Both losses have come to the Nuggets, by 12-0 and 7-6 scores.

"We're hoping the third time in the charm," coach Mike Gile said.

Lodi moves the football offensively primarily on the ground. "We've got studs for runners," Gile said, "so we don't need to throw it."

Quarterback Alex Ring went to the air just 12 times this season and completed nine.

Sean Preszler leads the Bobcat ground game, gaining more than 800 yards. Fullback Matt Davis has scored nine touchdowns.

Lodi has given up just 26 points all season. Middle linebacker Matt Jones is the leading tackler. Nose tackle Preszler, defensive end Jon Lechuga and linebacker Cameron Pavlicek also have contributed.

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