High school football: Flames cruise past short-handed Titans

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Sep. 3—STOCKTON — For the second week in a row, Lodi running back Kaiden Merryman got things started for the Flames by running back the opening kickoff, then scoring on a long run on Lodi's first play from scrimmage.

On Friday, a short-handed Chavez squad didn't have an answer at Lodi ran away with a 62-6 victory in Stockton.

"Any time you get a chance to play everyone, it's a positive for your team. Everyone got to play," Lodi coach George Duenas said. "It's just unfortunate, we haven't played Chavez when they're struggling in their program right now. We didn't want this."

The Flames will have a tougher test next week when they face Franklin of Elk Grove.

Chavez opened the game with an onside kick, when bobbled in and out of players' hands before Merryman got hold of it on Lodi's 40-yard line. The senior outran the field for a 60-yard score.

After a short Chavez drive stalled, Lodi got the ball back. The first handoff went to Merryman, who ran off tackle to the right, then cut back to the left and outran everyone again for a 54-yard touchdown.

After that, a parade of Lodi running backs piled on the points, helped along by interceptions from Nico Lombardi on consecutive Chavez drives, the first of which he ran back 50 yards for a touchdown.

"Yeah, he's stepping up for us. He's starting to get more aggressive every week, and on defense, if you're aggressive you're going to put yourself in good spots," Duenas said about Lombardi. "He's getting better, and that's exciting for us. We need him to get better."

After Lombardi's second interception, Maceo McDowell got his first carry of the season after nursing a hamstring the first couple of weeks. McDowell took the ball 31 yards for a touchdown to make it 28-0 Lodi near the end of the first quarter.

Bubba Stout added one more score before the quarter ended, carrying for gains of 16 and 21 yards before punching it in untouched from a yard out to make it 35-0 after the first quarter.

Chavez opted for a running clock starting in the second quarter. The Titans are still missing players to suspension after 15 were ejected from the opener against Tokay due to a brawl.

Lodi (3-0) did all of its damage on the ground, with quarterback Matt Shin attempting no passes.

In the second quarter, Lodi scored on a 42-yard Tyler Craig run and a 35-yard Jordan Sandoval run to lead 48-0 at halftime.

In Chavez's first drive of the second half, Lodi's Cash Bennett intercepted a Deon Mao pass and ran it back 30 yards for a score, the only points of the third quarter. Chavez (0-3) finally got on the board in the fourth quarter when Mao found receiver Keona Smith uncovered in the end zone from 10 yards out.

Lodi's final score came on a Seth Gritsch run, when he broke through the line and sped away for an 85-yard score.

"It's nice that we came out healthy. We've got a big game next week," Duenas said. "I feel we have a good chance to finish in a good position at the end of preseason. We've got Franklin of Elk Grove, and then Gregori. So it's very important that we get better and put ourselves in position to get ready for league."