Friday, Jun. 29, 2012
Challenges come early for gridders
By David Witte / firstname.lastname@example.org
If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best.
Cliché or not, that's the philosophy Los Banos High, Pacheco High and Dos Palos High have taken when it comes to the 2012 football schedule.
DP's Frank Lemos and Pacheco's David Snapp are in their second seasons as head coach, while LB's Dustin Caropreso takes the reins from Dennis Stubbs, who departed for Golden Valley in the spring.
Both Los Banos and Pacheco will face perennial Division IV power Escalon -- LB in Week 0 and Pacheco in Week 1 -- while Dos Palos will open the season Aug. 31 against Hilmar, the team that beat Escalon for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV title last season.
"We're circling all of our games," Pacheco coach David Snapp said. "We're looking forward to competing this year and holding our own. It's a formidable schedule -- we have eight playoff teams, the two that didn't go to the playoffs beat us last year."
The Escalon game will give a talented Los Banos team a look at a hard-nosed team right out of the gate.
"You never want to say one game will set the tone for the season," Caropreso said. "It will give us a good idea, but one game doesn't make or break the season. Last year we lost our first game to Rocklin, and then we didn't lose again until the playoffs."
Pacheco will roll into Escalon the next week for a game Snapp feels will be electric.
"One of the things when I took this job, was I want them to feel the small-town football experience -- what it's like to have a whole town show up," Snapp said. "And Escalon brings that. I went last year to one of their games, and the whole town was shut down. It was awesome."
Los Banos faces Roosevelt of Fresno in Week 1, then travels to Manteca, a 9-2 team last season.
"Having Escalon, having Manteca, being in VOL, those are teams that come right at you," Caropreso said. "We want to challenge ourselves in the preseason. Yeah, there's the whole six wins for the playoffs, but you have to challenge yourself. To be the best, you have to beat the best. Escalon and Manteca are some of the better teams in our section."
Because both LB and Pacheco play at home in "Week 0" -- LB against Escalon and Pacheco against Selma -- and Pacheco's field is not scheduled to be ready after water balance problems, the Panthers will open the season on a Aug. 24 at Loftin Stadium.
"It could be all season," Snapp said. "Our first senior class might not get a chance to play on their home field."
Then the roles switch, with Pacheco getting a shot at Dos Palos a week before Los Banos rolls into town Sept. 14 for the Westside War (which Dos Palos leads all-time 42-25-6).
And that's just in the preseason. Both Los Banos schools face a league schedule fraught with the always-dangerous Patterson and Central Catholic.
Dos Palos bulks up
For Dos Palos, Hilmar is just one of two section champions the Broncos will face -- the other comes from their own league in Mendota, which went 12-0 and took the Central Section Division VI title in 2011.
"This group, since February and March, has really relished in looking forward to this season," DP coach Frank Lemos said. "They have high goals, and they're enthused."
Dos Palos has an up-and-down schedule, with LB, Hilmar, Mendota and Chowchilla (8-4 last year) as the high points, and Kerman (0-10) and Avenal (1-9) at the other end.
One wild card that the Central Section has dropped into the middle of the West Sierra League is Coalinga, the school that booted Dos Palos from the playoffs in Mike Sparks' last season in 2010.
"I think it gives some credibility to a league that had one team at Division IV," Lemos said. "With Coalinga being D4, gives us more credibility when you do well in our league. Be careful what you wish for, but we've always had good games against them. It's not a rivalry, but there is a history there."
Dos Palos plays without a bye, while Pacheco's comes right before the final game of the season: Nov. 2 at Los Banos in Loftin Stadium. There is no conclusion as to whether either of these facts is a good thing.
"I feel both ways. It's nice to have two weeks to prepare for the Tigers," Snapp said. "Having two weeks is extra time to heal, and that kind of benefits us in a way. It gives me and my staff more time to go over our stuff."
Enterprise reporter David Witte can be reached by phone at 388-6565 or by e-mail at email@example.com