Entering the 2018 season, there was uncertainty around the Patterson program.
The Tigers were in a new league (Central California Conference) and were starting sophomores at quarterback (Logan McCleery) and running back (Jordan Imada).
Both experienced their ups and downs; McCleery threw for over 1,900 yards and 11 touchdowns but had 26 interceptions while Imada ran for over 1,000 yards and 16 touchdowns as the Tigers advanced to the second round of the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs.
The duo return along with 15 other starters from last year, making Patterson a very experienced team and one that could compete for a Central California Conference title.
“I stayed in the weight room (during offseason) so I could get stronger and run people over,” Imada said. “All I am trying to do is get the wins and be more efficient than last year.”
Imada didn’t take a long time to get adjusted to the varsity level, rushing for 189 yards and three touchdowns in the Tigers’ season opener against Tokay last year.
“He is a good slasher and a downhill runner,” Tigers coach Rob Cozart said. “For him to progress (three of his last five games, he had over 130 rushing yards) and to get 1,000 yards in his first year on varsity, that was a testament to how hard he works.”
Cozart, who is entering his 13th year as coach but fifth in his second stint after a four-year hiatus, said the coaching staff was lucky to be able bring Imada and McCleery up together, knowing they will hopefully stay together for three years.
Last year was only McCleery’s second year of playing tackle football and Cozart said he has seen his quarterback work on his game-management and ball-security during the summer period.
“He had some bumps in the road but had some flashes of really good stuff last year,” Cozart said.
Despite averaging over 33 points a game, the Tigers defense allowed over 31 and Cozart said players were being “thrown” into different positions which led to the struggles.
Junior defensive lineman Boss Foumai was named the CCC’s Defensive Lineman of the Year last year and his brother, Logan, a senior, had a strong season.
Another key returner for the Tigers and perhaps the most talented player at his position in the area is junior kicker Adrian Melesio.
Melesio made nine field goals, including a school-record 54-yarder against Modesto on Sept. 7.
Cozart said Melesio is like NCAA and NFL kickers in that he kicks without a tee. In the NCAA and NFL, kickers have to kick off the ground for field goals.
At a recent practice, Melesio made a 50-yard kick that allowed the team to end practice and not have to run.
The Tigers have only missed the playoffs twice since 2004.
Record: 7-5, 4-2 in Central California Conference
Players to Watch: Junior quarterback Logan McCleery (1,948 passing yards, 11 touchdowns), Junior running back Jordan Imada (1,085 rushing yards, 16 touchdowns), Junior kicker Adrian Melesio (Nine made field goals, three over 40-yards and one 54-yarder, a school record)
Biggest Game: August 30 vs. Capital Christian
Something special about school: Players run out of the tunnel with a flag. Whole town shows up to games.
Playoff appearances last five years: 2018: Lost to Casa Roble in CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Div. IV Quarterfinals 2017: Lost to Oakdale in Div. III Semifinals 2016: None 2015: Lost to Placer in Div. III Semifinals 2014: Lost to Grant in Div. II First Round
|30||Capital Christian||7 p.m.|
|6||at Los Banos||7 p.m.|
|13||at Modesto (at Gregori HS)||7 p.m.|
|20||Buhach Colony||7 p.m.|
|27||at Golden Valley||7 p.m.|
|4||at Atwater||7 p.m.|
|11||Central Valley||7 p.m.|
|18||at Merced||7 p.m.|
|1||El Capitan||7 p.m.|