Stockton school improves to 3-0 against tough NorCal schedule with easy win over Modesto neighbors and Catholic school rivals. The day and night also revealed a lot about the Raiders, who sat 19 players for the first half for team rule violations.
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The lineup of the opposing team may have been depleted, but it was still hard to find much to criticize about the way state No. 9 St. Mary’s of Stockton played in its 49-0 romp past No. 25 Central Catholic of Modesto on Friday night in Modesto.
News broke late in the afternoon heading into the growing Holy Bowl rivalry between parochial schools in the same diocese that the host Raiders would be missing 19 players (many starters) in the first half for a violation of team rules.
According to sources at the game, the players missed a curfew when Central Catholic was at last week’s Honor Bowl in Mission Viejo. This resulted in two sophomores and one freshman being called up to the varsity and other players being shifted around.
Heading into the week, the Raiders only had 34 players on their varsity roster.
“Honest to God, I didn’t know anything about it until we were on the bus coming down and someone read it on Twitter,” said St. Mary’s head coach Tony Franks about the situation. “I don’t think I can comment any more about it. We’ve got 55 of our own guys to worry about.”
“During our Honor Bowl trip, we did have some players violate a team rule,” the school said in a statement to The Modesto Bee before the game. “Along with that violation will come some consequences. This was a team rule and there wasn’t anything that took place that warrants school disciplinary action. Although this is a big game, it is secondary to the values we try to teach through the sport of football.”
The Rams didn’t score on their first series of the game, but did on their second, going 69 yards in five plays and finding paydirt on a 39-yard pass from Jake Dunniway to Marcus Aponte.
St. Mary’s then scored on its third play of the next series on a 62-yard pass play from Dunniway to Keaton Hampton and broke the game open a few minutes later when defensive lineman Jordan Stinhilver grabbed a floating ball in the air and scored on a 12-yard interception return. The ball had been knocked free from Central Catholic QB Cole Petlansky on a hit from St. Mary’s lineman Keller Salmon.
By halftime, the Rams had built their lead to 42-0, way too much for the Raiders to deal with once their full lineup was inserted.
Still, on the first series of the second half, Central Catholic seemed poised to score with a first down inside the St. Mary’s 5-yard line. Petlansky fumbled a snap, the drive was stopped and the Raiders never came close to scoring again.
St. Mary’s added another touchdown in the second half on a 39-yard pass from Dunniway to Hampton and there was a running clock in the fourth quarter.
Dunniway, who missed last year’s game against Central Catholic with a concussion, finished with 374 yards passing and six touchdowns. He completed 17 of 26 passes.
Hampton was the team’s leading receiver with six catches for 174 yards and three TDs. Aponte ended with six catches as well for 118 yards and two scores.
Junior running back Dusty Frampton, who scored six TDs in the Rams’ season-opening win over Serra of San Mateo, caught a TD pass and rushed for 78 yards on 12 carries.
“I’m just extremely proud of how we conducted ourselves, how emotional we played and it was just a hard-nosed football win,” said Franks. “We have tremendous respect for them, they beat us last year and we know what they can do. I’m a little in shock about the score. It’s just a great win for our program.”
Four-year varsity player Montell Bland was one of the top Central Catholic players who did play all four quarters and was supportive of the decision by head coach Roger Canepa to sit the others.
“It was hard to bring up a lot of guys this fast because they weren’t really ready for the tempo that they have,” Bland said. “But we always play hard and have to set an example for the younger guys.”
And despite the loss to St. Mary’s and the 28-25 loss to Cathedral Catholic of San Diego at the Honor Bowl that snapped a 22-game win streak, Bland knows that all of the team’s major goals, such as winning the Valley Oak League title, CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division II title and perhaps another CIF state title, can still be achieved.
“I think this propels us to that,” he said. “They only put up seven points on us in the second half and they’re really good. This gets us ready and hopefully prepares us for the playoffs.”
St. Mary’s will now turn its attention to Cosumnes Oaks of Elk Grove next week, but it will be hard to not start thinking about facing St. John Bosco of Bellflower in two weeks at Whittier College. Many from St. Mary’s probably were hoping the Braves had won their national showdown game on Friday vs. Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas instead of losing 35-20.
“No question, if you said we’d have beaten Serra, Cardinal Newman and Cardinal Newman to start the season, I’d have taken that,” Franks said. “We hadn’t played Serra before and it’s been a short series with Cardinal Newman. Not many around here know how good Cardinal Newman is, but everybody knows about Central Catholic.”
And after Friday, after the decision about the players was made, we know even more about Central Catholic.
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Outstanding game from a bunch of outstanding student-athletes and their coaches. Kudos to the St. Mary Rams for staying the course regardless of the hype and attention that came with it.