School started a few weeks back for area students and by the time that first bell rang, most prep reporters were knee-deep into the production process of that annual phenomenon known as the preseason high school football issue.
The process for us here at The Bee started back in July, with staff meetings and planning sessions, with a lot of story ideas popping up once we began talking to coaches and players and parents at the various training camps in our district. So many, in fact, that I’ve decided to write a column based on some of those storylines.
Since we’re about to embark on the 2014 season, how about a column on 2,014 points of interest this season? Well, on second thought, I’m not Dickens and don’t get paid by the word, so why don’t we just make it the 14 points of interest? (I’d have never made deadline the other way!)
Last year, I tried to Tweet out photos of my pregame snacks at various stadiums throughout the district. The tri-tip at Escalon and Oakdale high schools was very good, and the sausage dog at Downey was tasty. But they all take a backseat to the linguica corn dog at Hilmar High, which, in my opinion, was the best. Apparently, I’m not the only who thinks so. The Turlock council of the Knights of Columbus picked up on the idea and sold the specialty menu item at the Stanislaus County Fair.
But enough about the appetizers – let’s get to the main course.
Central is undoubtedly the greatest football dynasty in the history of the Stanislaus District – having won 17 Sac-Joaquin Section titles – while the Mustangs are perhaps the most consistent public-school program, with three section crowns in 11 trips to the finale, plus a NorCal title in 2012.
If you’re going to see one prep game this year, make it this one.
Montell was called up to the varsity midway through last season – as a freshman – and when 2,000-yard rusher Matt Ringer was unable to answer the bell for the state final against Bakersfield Christian, Montell stepped in and rushed for 103 yards on 16 carries, including an exciting 26-yard TD dash in which just about every BC defender had a shot at him – and missed.
I can’t wait to see what Bland’s sophomore season holds.
Ripon Christian lost Andrew Brown to graduation and last year’s coach, Randy Fasani (the former Stanford and NFL quarterback), relocated to the Loomis area. Brown set the Stanislaus District’s single-season rushing record (2,781) and a Sac-Joaquin Section record for touchdowns (55).
Central Valley graduated Ja’Quan Gardner, the district’s all-time leading rusher (6,014) who ran for 2,467 yards, while former coach Jason McCloskey now is at Mountain House attempting to get that program off the ground.
Le Grand lost head coach Rick Martinez, who guided the Bulldogs to five straight trips to the section D-V title game and four straight wins, while son Ryan, who rushed for 2,010 yards, earned his diploma.
That’s a lot of production lost to “Pomp and Circumstance.” Had the coaches remained, it would be easier to forecast how the squads would respond; the new coaches make it a bit of a mystery.
Mike Parsons, who led Modesto Christian to the state title in 2009 before taking the top job at Clovis West, returns to the TVL for his second stint as the Crusaders head coach.
In the Southern League, half of the eight teams will have new leaders: Noel Looney takes over at Waterford, while Ted Howze is the new man in Denair. Raul Alvarez was the offensive coordinator for Le Grand’s four straight section titles before getting the promotion and Ripon Christian’s Trey Ozenbaugh was the junior varsity head coach last year and moves up a level for 2014.
Former Southern League squad Turlock Christian, now a member of the Central California Athletic Alliance, welcomes Jake von Sherrer as its new coach.
Quick, without looking, name the 12 new coaches in The Bee’s Stanislaus District.
Either way, the Trans-Valley League will be, once again, one of the best small-school leagues in the entire state.
C’mon, guys, I’m counting on you to make it look like I know what I’m talking about!
Enjoy the season.