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Football Wrap-Up: Week 2

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Posted: Sunday, September 9, 2012 9:21 pm

The big stories

1. Tigers pass first test: Two blowouts to start the season were nice. But what about finally dealing with adversity -- on the road? Tokay showed its mettle, scoring 28 unanswered points out of halftime to rally past Weston Ranch and improve to 3-0. Last year, the Tigers were  young and hurt greatly by miscues. Pulling this one out has to be a significant step forward.

2. Lodi still 'learning lessons': Friday's defeat to McNair was tough one to swallow for the Flames. Lodi's physical run game will make them very competitive come league play, but the team has yet to put a full four quarters together this fall. Turnovers have been an absolutely killer -- especially late -- in both losses.

3. Monkey off the back: Win No. 1 for Jason Tacderan and the Elliot Eagles came in rousing fashion, as his club was thoroughly dominant on both sides of the ball against Turlock Christian. Ben Huckaby helped deliver the victory on a golden platter (more on that below), but this was a complete team win.

4. Hawks can't hang on: Say this much about Liberty Ranch -- they  hang around and will not be an easy out for anyone. The Hawks certainly can't be happy about fading against Antelope and (on Friday) Yuba City, but they have stood tough early despite being underdogs in both games.

5. Tough numbers game for Galt: The Warriors' two (non-forfeit) losses have been similar -- a strong first quarter, and then the floodgates open. Big-time. The effort is there. The manpower is not. With just 19 players on Friday -- meaning not every position has a back-up and many must play two-way -- there was no surprise that Galt got worn down. As J.J. Woodward said, "It is what it is."

Helmet stickers

Offensive standout: Ben Huckaby, Elliot Christian. His rushing numbers could single-handedly win your fantasy football week. The most astounding part? Those 366 yards came on only 15 carries, or just under 25 yards a pop. And the five touchdown runs? All at least 30 yards, including two of over 80.

Defensive standout: Xavier McDowell, Lodi. The senior lineman was was an absolute terror in the trenches against McNair, constantly finding his way into the Eagles' backfield. His emphatic second-half sack of Cedrick Phillips ignited the home crowd like few other plays.

Special teams standout: Gary Norwood, Tokay. He was the definition of a game-changer against the Cougars. His electric 85-yard kick-off return to open the second half catapulted the Tigers to victory.

Week 3 look-ahead

Galt at Tokay: Last fall, the Warriors' best shot at victory came against Tokay. A 28-20 loss featured Galt's season-high in points scored and a low in points allowed. But this Tigers squad is experienced, balanced and explosive. And how healthy will the shorthanded Warriors be, especially on a short week?

Lodi at Buhach Colony: Having dropped two very winnable contests, another 0-3 start is very likely after this week's visit to Buhach -- a squad that routed Lodi twice in 2011. With that said, a challenging preseason schedule should have the Flames toughened for league. 

Liberty Ranch at Gregori: There shouldn't be much drama in this one. The Jaguars, a late addition to Liberty Ranch's schedule after Woodland Poly fell through, are only in their second varsity season. They went 0-10 last year.

Elliot at Encina Prep: What will Ben Huckaby do for an encore? His next chance to shine is on Saturday. The Eagles beat Encina handily in 2011.

Thought of the week

It's a week away, but this year's Lodi-Tokay match-up should be a good one. Really good.

They say records get thrown out in rivalry games, and this case absolutely applies. Next Friday could very well pit an undefeated Tokay team against a winless Lodi at the Grape Bowl.

The Tigers are playing great, confident football and have loads of big-play potential. But Lodi can control the game with its smash-mouth rushing attack. The Flames were clearly the more physical team in last year's 28-14 win.

If they don't slip up against Galt, breaking a six-year drought in the city rivalry would be a fitting way for the Tigers to start 5-0. By the same token, could there be a better moment for Lodi to play spoiler?

Stay tuned. This should be fun.

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