High school football: Local teams hit the road in last week before league play

Lodi running back Maceo McDowell (18) gains yards against Encinal's Ryan Gurney (26) during Lodi's 49-28 victory Sept. 17 in Alameda.

The stadiums in Lodi and Galt will sit empty tonight.

No, nothing got canceled for COVID-19 or anything — Tokay has a bye this week and the rest are on the road.

Tonight’s games include Lodi (3-1) against Gregori (2-2) in Modesto, Liberty Ranch (2-1) against Rio Linda (1-3) north of Sacramento, and Galt (0-4) against Amador (0-4) in Sutter Creek.

Tokay (4-1) has the week off between its first loss of the season (38-14 against Liberty Ranch) and the start of Tri-City Athletic League play, which begins next week with a road game at Lincoln.

Lodi is riding high after a pair of victories over Bay Area teams, with a 49-28 win over Encinal in Alameda last week, and a 38-7 home win over Lincoln of San Francisco the week before.

It was Encinal’s first loss of the season.

“Everyone’s just excited that it looks like our schedule is on track for our games,” Lodi coach George Duenas said. “We’re excited to play Gregori.”

Gregori is in the Central California Athletic League, which contains four Modesto schools along with Turlock schools Turlock and Pitman.

The Jaguars are coming off of a 35-28 loss at the hands of Livermore, and have wins over Buhach Colony-Atwater (18-15) and Atwater (34-28).

Gregori quarterback Cruz Marines has completed 61% of his passes for 634 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions, and has also led the ground attack with 260 yards and four scores on 57 carries.

“Their quarterback is their guy. He does both really well. That’s our key to stop, is No. 10,” Duenas said. “They do a lot of designed runs for him. They want the ball in his hands, so we just have to be physical up front.”

Liberty Ranch coach Anthony Linebaugh said his team had tried not to get ahead of itself after last week’s victory over previously-undefeated Tokay.

“They did a really good job of enjoying the win — a film session and then preparing for our next assignment,” Linebaugh said. “The excitement was felt and they enjoyed it, so the transition is important.

“We’re trying to keep things on an even keel — not too high, not too low.”

An even keel will be most important against a Rio Linda squad that will throw different looks at the Hawks.

“They run multiple formations on offense, and they’re more of a power running team,” Linebaugh said. “They’re a little different, we’re used to seeing spread at the high school level. They’ll run a double tight formation, and you don’t see that too often. They’ll have a lead blocker to open some holes for their running back.”

It is also Liberty Ranch’s first road game of the season.

Galt, which is winless against Ripon Christian, Colfax, Linden and Johnson, faces another winless team today in Amador, which has dropped games against El Dorado, Livingston, Union Mine and Rosemont, none of them close games.

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