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Fall Sports Wrap - Bruins Set The Table For Key Contests Ahead
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Get your utensils ready.

Riverbank High athletes have devoured the first course of Trans-Valley League entrees, setting the table for big meals ahead as fall sports teams square off against conference foes with a close watch on the league standings. Following is a summary of recent action for Bruin soccer, football, volleyball and cross country teams, with an eye to upcoming TVL contests.

Boys Soccer

The 2012 TVL soccer banner has got Bruin paw tracks all over it.

Two weeks into conference play, Riverbank is the clear favorite to escape with title honors and a second straight No. 1 seed into the Division IV Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.

Riverbank (3-0 TVL, 7-2-1 overall) has outscored its last two TVL opponents by a stunning 15-1 margin, sitting well above the rest of the league with seven games to play as of Monday.

The remaining teams in the TVL have either just one victory or two losses. It's a difference in skill level that represents a realistic challenge for the Bruins as they prepare for an inevitable postseason push.

"The thing that worries me the most is that our league isn't competitive enough to help us in the playoffs," Bruin coach Martin Gonzales said. "I'm looking for a couple contests at the end of October that can help prepare us for that, because the Sacramento teams and top (Mother Lode League) teams are not just going to let us walk all over them in the playoffs."

The Bruins had a bye on Sept. 19, but blasted Hilmar 7-1 for a one-sided victory two days prior. Jonathan Rodriguez netted a three-score hat trick in the victory and saw Martin Pantoja, Miguel Guzman, Oscar Jimenez and Armando Rodriguez (assist) each collect scores. Eduardo Martinez, Kenny Veliz and Rafael Ramirez all managed assists in the win. Ramirez (goaltender) nabbed his on a long boot deep into the Hilmar half. He had 10 saves in the win as well.

Riverbank took on host Ripon (1-1, 5-6) on Monday, though results were not available at press time. The Bruins host Hughson (1-1, 1-8-2) today, Sept. 26. Hughson stunned second-place Escalon to hand the Cougars their second loss of league last week.

It's not an outcome Gonzales expects from his standout varsity squad.

"This is probably one of the best, if not the best team I have coached in 11 years," Gonzales said. "It's ours to lose, and I'm not just talking about league - I'm talking about the whole ball of wax."


Some terrific plays from Riverbank High's varsity football team had Orestimba reeling in the first half on Friday, but the Warriors rallied to 24 unanswered points in the final two periods to win 44-14 over the Bruins.

"We had a couple long passes, including one at the end of the first half," Riverbank coach James Oliver said. "We didn't play really good, sound defense and their running back is special, so you have to give him some credit."

That running back is none other than Orestimba junior Steven Machado, who became California's first player to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark this season when he bullied for 317 of his state-best 1,155 yards against the Bruins on Friday.

He also scored four of his 18 touchdowns against the Bruins, and gouged Riverbank for a devastating 16.68 yards-per-carry average, his season high.

The Bruins had fought to stay close with Machado after a 70-yard catch and run touchdown from Christian Torres and a 22-yard reception and score from Freddie Capas at the end of the second quarter. Both passes were thrown by Bruin quarterback Angel Torres, who connected with both receivers for scores in his previous outing.

Orestimba advanced to 5-0 with the win while Riverbank dropped to 2-3. It doesn't get much easier for the Bruins, who have only just begun a gauntlet of Trans-Valley League contests that include opposing teams with a combined 23-7 record. Ripon (5-0) edged Escalon (3-2) in a late thriller to join Modesto Christian (3-2) and Orestimba atop the conference standings. The MC Crusaders were surprising winners over 2011 section champs, Hilmar (4-1), last week.

Hughson (3-1) suffered their first loss of the season in a nonleague stunner to undefeated Summerville (4-0) on Friday as well.

"Everybody in league seems to be catching up," Oliver said. "It's a challenge for us and exciting to prepare for good teams week after week."

The Bruins have a moment of respite this week as they practice through a bye week. The team picks up action again on Oct. 5 against Hilmar. The Yellowjackets will be coming off a highly anticipated showdown with Orestimba on Sept. 28.


The Bruins are 0-3 in TVL action after three-game losses to both Orestimba (1-1, 5-5) and Hilmar (2-0, 14-2) on Sept. 18 and Sept. 20. The losses put a damper on a tremendous preseason that had Riverbank chasing a 9-0 start to the campaign. Losing standout middle blocker Kendra Garcia to an ankle injury didn't help. Garcia was able to compete in half of one game against Hilmar, and hopes to return to full capacity action in the lineup soon.

"If we don't start communicating again it is going to be a long season," Riverbank coach Lisa Mila said. "In the preseason we talked a lot and covered each other, but we haven't done that or had a big block since Kendra went down.

"I think we can contend with anyone in league if we are playing at our best, and we are just trying to get back to where we were in the preseason."

Mila said though the team has struggled, the play of Brittany Cody in the back court has been impressive.

"She came to our last game very sick, but said she wanted to play anyway and I was really impressed with her," Mila said. "When we start losing the girls can get frustrated and start snapping at each other, but Brittany never does that. She was constantly digging anything near her and showing consistent hitting with a perfect attitude."

The Lady Bruins (12-6 overall) are at Ripon (1-1, 7-4) on Thursday to continue league play.

Cross Country

Riverbank High's surprisingly tough varsity boys cross country team will get another crack at returning section champs, Ripon, today, Sept. 26 during the second Trans-Valley League meeting at Tuolumne Regional Park in Modesto. The Bruins tied Ripon but fell to tiebreaker criteria during the first conference meeting on Sept. 5. Since then, Riverbank has progressed with action in nonconference tournaments like the Lowell Invitational in San Francisco. Riverbank senior girl Mikayla Florez won the first conference meet and expects to do the same today.

"Practices have been very good since Lowell and I expect to have some good times Wednesday if it isn't too hot," Riverbank coach Monte Wood said.