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Big Valley Win Preps Bruins For Grueling TVL Schedule
A triumphant 49-20 thumping of visiting Big Valley High represented a thrilling end to a stellar preseason (3-1) for the Riverbank varsity football team on Friday. But with Trans-Valley League contests looming in six of the next seven weeks (Oct. 21 bye week), the Bruin football team must be at its very best from this point forward.

It's no mystery why the TVL is responsible for California State Bowl victories in consecutive seasons (Modesto Christian in 2009, Escalon in 2010). The conference is extremely competitive and loaded with talent, which was evident by a combined 21-6 record by TVL squads this preseason.

The only teams to defeat TVL programs this year are Patterson (Division III semifinalist in 2010), Livingston (Division IV quarterfinalist in 2010), Beyer (2-2 Division I), Downey (3-1 Division I) and a 2-1 Delhi unit that beat a Fresno program nearly four times their enrollment.

To put this in perspective, the Sac-Joaquin Section's other Division IV program that typically squares off against TVL teams in the playoffs (Mother Lode League) is a combined 0-5 against the TVL.

The three best MLL teams (Calaveras, Argonaut and Bret Harte) have been dispatched by Modesto Christian, Ripon and Hughson, respectively.

Escalon also avenged their lone loss from 2010 by topping a very good Patterson team, and is expected to challenge for another state title in 2011.

Modesto Christian fell in a 58-50 passing slugfest to Downey the same week, and is the first huge test for Riverbank during the Crusaders' Homecoming game this Friday.

"Modesto Christian is a very good team," Riverbank coach James Oliver said. "I think this game will really tell us where our program is at."

The program looked sharp this past week after another incredible performance by quarterback and safety, Alex Reynaga. The senior intercepted four passes on defense, was 8 of 11 for 177 yards and two touchdowns from the helm and added 117 yards and two scores on only eight carries.

"He is a special kid with a lot of heart and desire," Oliver said. "He works with what God gave him and I really believe he can play at the next level."

Reynaga led Riverbank to a 42-14 lead at the half and spread the ball around to five different receivers. He connected with Dalton Woitysiak on two touchdown passes and watched Jamil Lehyan, Raymond Burney and Chad Oliver also rush in scores. Jose Vigil was six for seven on extra points while Bruce Gong caught a two-point conversion pass and Fabian Arana pulled in an interception.

Friday's showdown at Modesto Christian begins at 7:30 p.m.