Larry Shimel has been around the block a few times. Actually, he's made trips around several different blocks.
The Big Valley Christian coach started his career in 1975 under Davis High legend Dan Gonsalves. From there he followed Mike Burrows to Livingston and then Atwater. Then it was off to Downey, under Nick Chipponeri.
Suffice to say, he learned under some of the best.
As the head coach in Hughson, he stopped Hilmar's 46-game winning streak, one shy of tying the then state record held by Cardinal Newman.
After Hughson, Shimel went to Modesto High, followed by a stint at Modesto Christian. He returned to Modesto for two seasons as an assistant, and then took over BVCHS when the school started playing football in 2004.
"This is God's team," says Shimel. "This is the team he wants me to have. I'm not going to argue with him."
What's to argue about.
The Lions are coming off a trip to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 6 playoffs, where they lost to eventual champion Brookside Christian. They return a core of key talent, including QB Noah Riedema, RB/LB Riley Foster, RB/DB David Barton, OL Tim Giannosa, OL/DL Brad Schmidt, OL/DL Brendan O'Brien, WR/DB Daniel Elliott, WR/DB Scholtz Neveling, T/TE Daniel Giannosa and DB/WR Kimo Maio.
But, like any small-school program, core talent is one thing. Overall numbers are another.
"Our numbers are a little down from last year," says Shimel, who is fielding a roster of 27 players. "And we don't have a JV program this year."
The Lions are coming off a 42-12 win last week over Turlock Christian, which has fewer than 20 players on its roster.
This week, they take a step up in class when they travel to take on Delhi, a 20-0 winner over Galt in Week Zero. The remainder of Big Valley Christian's nonleague schedule includes Waterford and Ripon Christian.
"We try to play up," says Shimel. "It's good for us. We've got to learn to play together as a team. We like those challenges."
Joe Cortez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2380. Follow him on Twitter, @modbeepreps.