The Modesto Junior College football schedule this fall doesn't vary much from 2012 by design.
The season will be the second of a two-year re-conferencing plan adopted by Northern California's 32 football schools. With that, all non-league opponents remain the same.
The Pirates, second-place finishers in the Valley Conference in 2010 and '11, were assigned non-league opponents San Mateo and Butte, also runners-up in the NorCal Conference.
The 2013 season will go far to gauge the degree of difficulty of MJC's football schedule for the next two years. The NorCal conferences will undergo the next two-year reshuffling in 2014.
For now, the Pirates' energy is centered on improvement from last year's 4-6 record.
Modesto, 1-4 for fifth place in the VC, slumped to its first losing season since 2003 and the first without a bowl game since '05. Veteran coach Sam Young, stung by his team's four league losses all by no more than 11 points believes an uptick is on the way.
"I'll be able to tell you about improvement on Sept. 7 (the season opener vs. Merced). Our recruiting is coming along. We really spotlighted the athletes we were after, and we got most of them," Young said. "There's no reason why we can't be competitive. There were so many close games last year."
There was one small schedule switch this week. The kickoff for the Nov. 9 game at Fresno was changed from 7 to 1 p.m.
Bee staff writer Ron Agostini can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2302. Follow Ron via Twitter @modbeesports.
THE PIRATES IN 2013
Sept. 7 at Merced 6 p.m.
Sept. 14 Hartnell 6 p.m.
Sept. 21 Laney 6 p.m.
Sept. 28 at San Mateo 1 p.m.
Oct. 5 Butte 6 p.m.
Oct. 19 at Sequoias 7 p.m.
Oct. 26 at Sierra 1 p.m.
Nov. 2 American River 6 p.m.
Nov. 9 at Fresno 1 p.m.
Nov. 16 Delta 1 p.m.