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Stanislaus District stars Aaron Cochran, Spencer Thomas and John Mundt didnt arrive at high school as stars at their position, but these three and many other Stanislaus District football players built themselves into the stars they have become today.I got discouraged because I wasnt very good at it, but as I began working harder, I could see the results, Cochran said. Attitude makes a difference."Technique also helps. Take a look to your right and see instructional videos starring some of the top players in the Stanislaus District.
Malakai Tuifua threw his arms in the air, signaling a touchdown for the Central Catholic Raiders.Landon Zwahlen, donning Downeys No. 11, cocked his right arm behind his ear, striking a pose familiar to most Knights fans.Nearby, another Landon Landon Winter slipped into an Oakdale jersey, his eyes following his blocks.Football is upon us, and The Bee looked to a set of fresh-faced youngsters to usher in sports most exciting season.
Aaron Zwahlen. Ja'Quan Gardner. John Mundt. Spencer Thomas. Aaron Cochran. What do five players with different skill sets have in common, besides their passion for football? Easy. The Blue Line.Throughout the season, prep reporter Richard T. Estrada will select new members, and those athletes, like the First Five, will be hyperlinked on our website.After reading Estrada's story, go to The Blue Line.
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.
There's not a QB in the Stanislaus District who will be more scrutinized then Downey's Aaron Zwahlen. He's made a verbal commitment to Hawaii it's rare for a QB from this region to go direct from high school to a Division 1 college program and everyone is going to have an opinion of his arm, footwork, vision and decisions. Zwahlen is breaking in new receivers, just like he did last year when he threw for 2,924 yards and 29 TDs. The Zwahlens are synonymous with football in Modesto, though his family name rose to fame wearing Davis' green and gold. He's not ducking anyone, as Downey has early games with Merced and Central Catholic.
The best of the MMC.
Spencer Thomas is already a two-time Sac-Joaquin Section champ, helping Oakdale's baseball team to titles in 2010 and '11. The quarterback has led the football team to a pair of section finals, too, but he's still looking for a win.
Sierra is a relative pup compared to some of its VOL rivals, having opened in 1994. But it's already earned a reputation as the most difficult foe on everyone's schedule. Coach Jeff Harbison's high-octane spread never huddles and his eye for talent gives the Timberwolves big-play threats at every skill position. It can be a fascinating offense as it works its way downfield, a blur of runs mixed with short tosses. Harbison has a new QB to run it this year Guillermo Nunez, the point guard who led the basketball team into the section finals last year. He's a threat to run.
The best of the VOL.
Before Brent Nelle was taught how to run the ball for Pitman High, he was taught how to block so others could run instead.
With consecutive undefeated regular seasons, two straight Sac-Joaquin Section Division 2 semifinal appearances, 10 consecutive Central California Conference victories and a pair of league titles, the last two years can unquestionably be called The Days of Thunder. Still, four-star recruit Aaron Cochran believes theres much left to prove. In skilled players, the Thunder have an embarrass- ment of riches with running backs Leon Miles (809 yards), Stefon Gold (931 yards, 16 TDs), Kevin Kellerher (474) and Shane Bel (218). Joe Marquez, the teams top receiver from a year ago, will shift under center.
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RIPON Plenty has changed since Ripon earned a football title. This year's senior class, for example, was in diapers the last time the Indians celebrated a league crown.
While Riverbank has struggled on the field, coach Jimmy Oliver knows there's more to success than touchdowns and tackles. After taking over the program last year, Oliver launched what he hopes will become a tradition dads and legal guardians visiting their sons in the locker room prior to games. "We allow a father and a son to speak in the locker room to talk about their relationship," said Oliver, who believes the approach will help his players bond with their fathers. "We want to promote fatherhood and set an example for our players, so that they will grow to be good fathers."
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James Sams isn't going to sneak up on his opponents this fall. His breakout junior season took care of that. The Los Banos running back rushed for 1,872 yards and 20 touchdowns, en route to being named The Bee's Offensive Player of the Year.
Central Catholic is always a contender for the section Division 4 title, but this years club is capable of so much more. With the arrival of Rey Vega (transfer from Davis), the Raiders boast a three-deep rotation at tailback with 5-foot-11, 205-pound Blake Escobar at fullback. Coach Roger Canepa became a legend in the foothills for his ability to overpower foes with a physical run game, and it looks likes he will return to that style. The Raiders wont lack for competition state-ranked Placer and St. Marys come in early, then Central travels to play Downey and Aaron Zwahlen, a University of Hawaii commit.
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WATERFORD Dylan Gonzalez had just crossed the goal line without a defender, and was turning to his sideline when his knee popped.
Turlock Christian's got a new coach in Shane Smith and he expects to have 30 players for tonight's opener at Fresno Christian. That includes 6-foot-6 Chase Gonzalez, who threw for 1,600 yards in six games. He missed the middle four weeks of the season after breaking his collarbone, then finished the season by hitting 14 of 21 for 305 yards and five TDs in a 48-40 loss to Delhi. He had thrown seven picks a week earlier in a 48-6 loss to Denair, so consistency is going to be crucial. Nick Steeley and Thomas Sawyer return to catch passes.
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If you're going to get in front of Summerville's Tanner Krieg, whether it's the lunch line or for a football drill, be prepared to move quickly.
If there's one constant in the foothills, it's that Calaveras is heading to the playoffs: It has gone to the postseason every season since the millennium, and the Redskins reached the final in 2002 and 2010 before falling to Escalon. Expect another playoff trip this fall, thanks in part to coach Jason Weatherby's spread offense. It's a scheme that lets Calaveras get the ball to its best skill players at different spots on the field and the Redskins return some of their top threats in QB Zack Johnson (1,100 yards, 8 TDs), RB Kellen Hodgson (975 yards, 12 TDs) and TE Bryan Golston (13 catches, 20-yard average).
The best of the MLL.