SportStars Magazine

Pump Up The VOL (Valley Oak League) Football Fans

Photo Above: Central Catholic-Modesto coach Roger Canepa raises one of his program’s four straight CIF State Bowl Championship trophies.

Football fans across the state did a collective double take Sept. 8, when Sac-Joaquin Section results revealed the biggest NorCal upset of the season, a 20-7 takedown of St. Mary’s-Stockton by Central Catholic-Modesto.

What’s that? Not an upset, you say?

Consider this — St. Mary’s dethroned longtime untouchable SJS foe Folsom en route to section and NorCal Championships last year, before a three-point loss to Cathedral Catholic-San Diego in the CIF Division 1-AA State Bowl Championships.

Until burly Dauson Booker ran all over the Rams on Sanguinetti Field, St. Mary’s was not only the consensus No. 1 team in the SJS, they were second in all of NorCal behind De La Salle-Concord. Central Catholic was barely on the radar after one-sided losses to St. Mary’s, Oakdale and Jesuit-Carmichael last fall.

Central Catholic’s win over St. Mary’s solidifies what Central Valley sports fans already knew — when it comes to medium-school football, it does not get better than the Valley Oak League.

The VOL has won six of seven state title games in the past five years, including two in 2015, when perhaps the best team in Central Catholic history won the small-school open division game, and Sierra-Manteca took Division IV-A.

Sierra (1-2) didn’t maintain the prestige, but Central Catholic (2-0), Oakdale (2-1) and Manteca (3-0) are established SJS juggernauts with a special kind of swagger in 2017.

While Central Catholic, which checked in at No. 16 in the most recent SportStars NorCal Top 20, was knocking off St. Mary’s, No. 20 Oakdale stayed tough with the new top dog of the SJS, Folsom, in a 45-29 defeat. Oakdale rolled Sonora 47-13 Aug. 25 and ousted El Capitan-Merced 50-13 Sept. 1.

Manteca, No. 8 in NorCal, upset Valley Christian 22-20 Aug. 25, rallied from behind to top Christian Brothers-Sacramento 36-35 Sept. 1 and shut out Enochs-Modesto 41-0 Sept. 8.

The VOL gets real interesting right away, considering Manteca hosts Central Catholic to open league play on Sept. 22. Manteca travels to Oakdale Oct. 6 while Oakdale and Central Catholic close the regular season in Modesto Nov. 3.

Get your tri-tip ready, VOL football fans. 

— Ike Dodson

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