When Nick Arceo and Aden Ruiz were elevated to Beyer's varsity as sophomores, they expected a three-year run with coach Rich Alkire and perhaps even a couple of titles.
They got two years in with Alkire, and last year's Modesto Metro Conference title, but that reign is over.
Alkire revived the struggling program in his three years, one as co-coach with Doug Severe and the last two seasons flying solo, but he's now an assistant coach at Gregori.
"We were shocked, that's a good way to put it," said Arceo, a 5-foot-8, 175-pound linebacker who will double as a running back. "We won MMC, a playoff game ... and then he goes across town to a new school?"
It's odd to see a coach swap jobs in the same city, but Alkire said moving to Gregori cut his commute because he is living in west Modesto.
He was one of three MMC coaches to resign after last season: Johansen's Jason McCoy and Gregori's Richard Caldwell also stepped down.
McCoy resigned after he was assured the job at Gregori, and one of his first steps was to invite Alkire to help coach the Jags' offense. Gregori went 0-10 and its average loss was 53-8, numbers that left the Pats feeling they had been abandoned.
"We're here thinking we can win a second straight title, win another playoff game or two, then our coach splits," said Ruiz, who ran for 1,124 yards and 12 TDs last fall. "I'm glad he's happy, and we'll do fine."
That's sure to create excitement when the teams meet at Downey on Oct. 19 part of a seven-week span where Beyer won't see a team that had a winning record in 2011. It has West (6-5 in 2011) and Elk Grove No. 16 in CalHiSports' state rankings the first two weeks and then MMC favorite Downey in Week 10.
The Patriots should be able to exploit that part of the schedule, picking up wins and familiarizing themselves with the true Wing-T that coach Bill Flesher has introduced.
Moving to a run-heavy offense explains why Jacob Bringhurst, one of The Bee's all-Stanislaus District receiver in 2011, could take snaps.
He averaged 22 yards on 35 catches, with 11 TDs, but his production tumbled late in the season as Beyer began to rely more on its run game.
"Jake's a great athlete and you'll see him in the run game if he's our quarterback," Ruiz said. "It's one more thing for the defense to worry about, Jake tucking it and running."
Flesher's also adapted the defense to fit his personnel, shifting to a 5-2. That has 'backers Arceo and Justin Fontana in the middle, and five defenders to occupy the offensive line.
The goal is to keep Arceo and Fontana free to pursue the ball, without having to shed a larger lineman.
MMC teams enjoy running, with pass-happy Downey and its University of Hawaii-bound quarterback Aaron Zwahlen the lone exception.
Enochs shifted to a veer last year, Johansen's never been comfortable throwing, Modesto runs many of its plays between the tackles, and Davis and Gregori threw rarely in 2011.
"We've got all the motivation that we need," said Ruiz, who also will share carries with Maury Moore (946 yards, 9.7-yard average, 8 TDs). "Two titles in two years, with different coaches? That would be great."
PREDICTIONS 1. Downey, 2. Beyer, 3. Enochs, 4. Johansen, 5. Gregori, 6. Modesto, 7. Davis.