Prep notes: Central Catholic announces football schedule

The Central Catholic High football team has finalized its nonleague schedule and it once again features a tough slate with two out-of-state opponents and a pair of California teams that made deep playoff runs.

The Raiders kick off their 2024 season with a road game Aug. 23 against Pleasant Valley of Chico. The Vikings beat Chico High to claim the 2023 Division II Northern Section title, then beat Miramonte in the CIF Division 5-AA NorCal Bowl game before falling to Ramona of Riverside in the 5-AA state championship. Central Catholic won a home matchup against Pleasant Valley in 2023, 49-7.

Next is St. Mary’s for the Holy Bowl, a matchup the Raiders trail 1-4 in their last five matchups with two straight losses. The Rams advanced to the Division I section title game in 2023, falling to Rocklin, 17-6. Central Catholic’s last win over St. Mary’s was in 2021. Bishop Manogue is the team’s final nonleague game. The Raiders traveled to Nevada in 2023 to play the Miners, who this season will come to Modesto on Sept. 13. After losing to Central Catholic last season, Bishop Manogue rattled off 10 straight wins and captured an NIAA Division II state title.

The highlight of the nonleague schedule is a Sept. 6 matchup with the No. 1 team in Oregon. The Raiders travel to Central Catholic of Portland. The Rams finished 2023 13-0 overall and 7-0 in the 6A Mt. Hood League. Central Catholic beat Tualatin in the OSAA Division 6A state championship, 49-21, and finished the season ranked 89th in the MaxPreps National Rankings. Central Catholic coach Roger Canepa said it is a two-year contract.

“We thought it’d be cool, two schools with the same name and they’re a powerhouse up in Oregon,” Canepa said. “We played Bosco, we played Serra and those contracts ran out. “We could have found somebody here in California but we always try and make it special and just play different talent.”

The Raiders’ nonleague schedule features one less game than in years prior. Due to the Sac-Joaquin Section league realignment that begins with the 2024 school year, they have an extra Valley Oak League game. The league added Patterson and Mountain House and dropped Kimball, taking its league schedule from five games to six.

The back-to-back-to-back Valley Oak League champions open league play with one of the newest additions, visiting Patterson on Sept. 20. Their VOL home opener is Oct. 11, one week after their bye. They travel to Mountain House, the other new addition to the league, Oct. 25.

After being promoted to Division I for the section playoffs in 2022, Central Catholic has made it to back-to-back seasons. Games against state champions and championship finalists will help them prepare for what they hope will be a deep playoff run. The Raiders won a Division II championship in 2021.

Canepa earned his 283rd win in the Raiders’ first-round playoff over Edison of Stockton. The total is a section record. The 2024 season will be his 17th as the Central Catholic head coach.

“We’re excited,” said Canepa. “I think we put together as tough a schedule as anybody around.”

Ceres’ Cowell on the move in transfer

Ceres native Cade Cowell is leaving the country to continue his professional soccer career in Mexico after a successful transfer from the San Jose Earthquakes to Chivas earlier this month.

Cowell made his debut with San Jose at 16 and earned 118 club appearances (114 with San Jose and 4 with Reno FC). He signed as San Jose’s youngest Homegrown Player (15 years and 102 days) on Jan. 23, 2019.

He set a number of organizational records, including youngest player to make his MLS debut, youngest player to make an MLS start and youngest player to score an MLS goal. In 2021, he became the youngest player named to an MLS All-Star roster and in 2023 became the youngest MLS player to earn 100 appearances.

ESPN reported on Jan. 9 that the Earthquakes and Liga MX side Chivas have reached a deal. Cowell’s first training session was Tuesday as he and the team prepared for their Jan. 21 match against Tigres.

Cowell has eight appearances for the U.S. Senior Men’s National team, which would have hindered the Mexico-based club’s draw to the 20-year-old in the past. For years, Chivas had only domestic players on its roster, but according to ESPN, despite the club’s traditional stance on its roster construction, Chivas has had a number of dual-nationals over the years and also relaxed rules regarding players needing to commit to the Mexico national team.

Downey releases football schedule

The Downey High football program released its 2024 schedule. The 73rd team in the school’s history bookends its nonleague schedule with a pair of Stockton schools, opening with Lincoln in an Aug. 23 road game and ending at home against Edison on Sept. 20. The Knights will also host Elk Grove on Aug. 30, travel to Merced on Sept. 6 and host Amador Valley on Sept. 13. Their bye will be Sept. 27 before kicking off CCAL play with homecoming against Pitman.

The Knights have two home league games, Pitman and Enochs, and play Modesto, Turlock and Gregori on the road. They will play seven 2023 playoff teams next season in an attempt to prepare for a deep playoff push. After finishing second in the CCAL in 2023, the Knights won their playoff opener against Tracy High. They finished the season with 10 wins for the second straight year, with a 10-2 record.

Local football players get big-time offers

Alhassan Iddrissu and Robert McDaniel are juniors with major upsides. They believe it, their coaches believe it and so do college recruiters. Last week, the pair gained some college scholarship offers from well-known Division I universities.

Iddrissu is a four-star defensive lineman at Modesto Christian who in just six games recorded 31 total tackles, six tackles for loss and a pair of sacks. He announced his first scholarship offer from USC via Twitter/X on Jan. 16. On Jan. 17, he announced an offer from Minnesota, and on Jan. 18, he announced one from Cal Berkeley. The 6-foot-7, 220-pounder is a starter on the MC basketball team and will likely continue to see the football scholarship offers roll in as he is gearing up for a big senior season on the gridiron.

McDaniel has set school records for passing yards and touchdowns and has already received offers from prestigious universities. Now, he can add two more to the list after Colorado State and Oregon State made offers to the three-star quarterback. He has one more year to add onto what has already been a successful high school career. He has led the Huskies to back-to-back Sac-Joaquin Section titles, a NorCal title and a CIF state championship.

Tight league races in local soccer

Entering the second half of league play in local soccer, a number of tight races will determine who’s in and who’s out of the playoff soccer picture.

In the CCAL, Enochs and Gregori boys played Saturday morning in a make-up contest. Gregori entered the match a perfect 3-0 in league play while Enochs looked to pick up its third league win. An Eagles victory would force a three-way tie for first in the league as Gregori, Enochs and Pitman would all be 3-1. Gregori picked up the 1-0 win to remain perfect in league play. On the girls side, Pitman and Gregori are tied for the league lead with identical 3-0-1 league records. They face off Monday for the league lead at Pitman High at 6:30 p.m.

In the CCC, Central Valley pulled out a thriller Tuesday evening over Golden Valley, which entered last week atop the league standings. With the win, the Hawks now are tied with the league lead and handed the Cougars their first loss. Golden Valley has a 7-1 record while the Hawks have a 6-1 league record. On the girls side, Patterson has yet to lose a match, boasting a 6-0-1 record. The Tigers have given up just four goals to league opponents. Central Valley is fighting for the league’s final playoff spot, currently in fourth place.

In the TVL, Riverbank has been dominant on the boys side. The Bruins have a perfect 6-0 league record and has scored 16 goals and given up just one. On the girls side, Ripon has been just as good, also boasting a perfect league record (5-0). The Indians are outscoring league opponents 25-1. Hilmar is in second place (4-1), outscoring league opponents 23-5.

In the VOL, Oakdale’s girls picked up a big win over Manteca in a matchup between two top 30 teams in the section. Mia Peterson scored the only goal in the game for the No. 27 Mustangs. The defense shut down the offense of the No. 11 Buffaloes. Avery Alves earned the shutout and had four saves. Both teams lead the league with a 3-0-1 league record and have scored 10 goals while allowing just four.

In the WAC, Johansen currently holds the WAC’s third place spot with a 2-1-3 league record but Beyer is knocking on the door. The Patriots (3-2-2) are fourth entering the second half of league play. The Ceres and Davis boys teams are currently on the outside looking in. Both have 3-4-1 WAC records and will need to make runs to get into the postseason.

The soccer postseason for Divisions I-VI begins on Feb. 9 (boys) and Feb. 10 (girls) with section championships happening Feb. 17, 20, 22 and 24 at Cosumnes River College.

A look at local basketball standouts and leaders

As the high school basketball season continues deep into league play, a number of Stanislaus District players are impressing for their teams. Here are some of the area’s statistical leaders and how they rank among other boys and girls basketball players in the Sac-Joaquin Section.

All leaders listed have played at least half of their team’s games and are in the top 30 in the section in each category as of Wednesday, Jan. 17.



(7th in the Sac-Joaquin Section) Gavin Sykes, Modesto Christian — 23 ppg

(13th) Jayson Powers, Gregori — 21.2 ppg

(17th) Jayden Coelho, Downey — 20.1 ppg

(28th) David Nnaji, Patterson — 18 ppg


(25th) Koby Cervantes, Denair — 9.3 rpg

(28th) Phillip Gonder, Modesto — 9.2 rpg

(29th) Collin Eden, Downey — 9.2 rpg

Made 3-pts

(12th) Jordan Magana, Central Catholic — 50


(20th) Carey Mastin, Ceres — 4.4 apg

(25th) Reuben Lewis, Downey — 4.3 apg

(28th) Collin Eden, Downey — 4.1 apg


(7th) Reuben Lewis, Downey — 3.5 spg

(9th) David Nnaji, Patterson — 3.2 spg

(18th) Blake Melo, Orestimba — 2.8 spg


(6th) Jayson Powers, Gregori — 3.1 bpg

(19th) Sahibjot Deal, Central Valley — 1.7 bpg

(27th) Dre’Von Johnson, Modesto Christian — 1.4 bpg



(20th) Sammy Lang, Escalon — 16.5 ppg

(27th) Bethany Albarran, Johansen — 15.9 ppg

(30th) Maddie Yonker, Ripon Christian — 15.6 ppg


(16th) Veronica Whitten, Gregori 11.2 rpg

(17th) Alicia Souza, Hilmar — 11.0 rpg

(22nd) Reagan Van der Hoek — 10.7 ppg

Made 3-pts

(4th) Siena Musson, Patterson — 48

(5th) Kareena Kang, Hughson — 46

(10th) Alanah Lopez, Gregori — 38

(13th) Elizabeth Webb, Pitman — 36

(18th) Jenessa Gonzalez, Orestimba — 32

(25th) Lilly Staggs, Gregori — 29

(30th) Cloey Ellerd, Denair — 28


(9th) Chancis Gamez, Riverbank — 4.4 apg

(12th) Arianna Velasco, Escalon — 4.2 apg

(24th) Alanah Lopez, Gregori — 3.4 apg

(25th) Madi Duron, Hughson — 3.3 apg

(27th) Sammy Lang, Escalon — 3.3 apg


(2nd) Jamie Zarilla, Johansen — 8.1 spg

(4th) Sammy Lang, Escalon — 7.5 spg

(10th) Marissa Renteria, Cere — 5.5 spg

(11th) Madi Duron, Hughson — 5.3 spg

(14th) Taylor Mason, Patterson — 5.2 spg


(3rd) Kelsey Maninha, Orestimba — 3.6 bpg

(12th) Alicia Souza, Hilmar — 2.3 bpg

(14th) Gurleen Gill, Enochs — 2.2 bpg

(20th) Veronica Whitten, Gregori — 1.8 bpg

(23rd) Jamie Zarilla, Johansen — 1.8 bpg