CATS GAIN, LOSE STARTER

September 26, 2002 12:00 am

By KEVIN SAULS

One top player is back action, but another is probably out as Sonora High School gears for Friday's non-league football game against Galt.

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. in Galt, a valley town on Highway 99 between Lodi and Sacramento.

Defensive lineman Clayten Banks, who suffered an ankle injury in Sonora's scrimmage against Summerville on Sept. 6 and missed the Wildcats' victories over Johansen of Modesto and Sheldon of Elk Grove, is practicing and will be in the trenches against Galt (0-2).

"He's getting stronger and he's ready to go," Sonora coach Robert Cendro said.

The defensive line has been one of Sonora's strengths so far and figures to be even better with the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Banks — the preseason leader of the unit — joining fellow tackles Joe Harris, Sam Smith and James Gibson and nose guards Tony Reynosa and Josh McCarty.

The front line may be stronger, but Sonora's last line of defense will be less certain as senior free safety Bryann Turner is doubtful with an ankle sprain that kept him out of the second half of last Friday's 38-21 victory over Sheldon at Dunlavy Field.

Turner scored three touchdowns in the first quarter, the second on an 89-yard fumble return.

"He's a very good football player, one of the best in the Valley Oak League," Cendro said. "It doesn't make us better not having him."

Junior speedster Dean Freitas, who took over for Turner in the second half last week, gets the start and also will take some of Turner's carries on offense at slotback.

Another speedy junior, Tommy Grove, may see his first action at slot after playing exclusively as a linebacker last week. Grove missed the Johansen game with a mending ankle and came back with a vengeance to help shut down a scary Sheldon running game.

Galt has a pretty good ground game, too, with senior tailback Ryan Van Connett (5-10, 200) having rushed for 230 yards in tough losses of 29-22 to Bear Creek of Stockton and 19-15 to one of Sonora's VOL rivals, East Union of Manteca.