Now that the Los Banos High football team's playoff run is over, the Tigers can reflect upon a record-setting season.
The season saw two players break career records for LBHS -- James Sams earned the career rushing yards record, breaking Rodney Percoats' mark in the third quarter, while quarterback Chris Corpuz's four touchdown passes gave him 53 for his career. Erik Martin (class of 2010) held the previous record of 45.
But personal marks aside, the Los Banos football season provided plenty of entertainment, especially for the full house on hand for the quadruple-overtime thriller in last Friday's final game of the season. Escalon won the game 42-35 to advance to the Division IV finals vs. Central Catholic on Saturday.
"You start the year off playing and Escalon team ranked up there in the state when it comes to the program and coach, and you open with a win," said first-year Los Banos coach Dustin Caropreso. "You carry it on against a Dos Palos team you've always played against, and getting into league, after that tough Central Catholic loss, you get the kids focused to pull off seven straight wins.
"I look at the first season as a head coach, and it's pretty tough to top this one," he continued. "I've set the standards pretty high. But that's why I got into coaching."
Along the way, Corpuz compiled a season with 33 touchdowns (spread out among Daeton West, Keith Turner, Sams, Alec Barcellos, Delvonte Moore and Marcus Riko) against seven interceptions.
"That's pretty impressive, especially on a team that doesn't sit back and throw all the time," Caropreso said.
Meanwhile, Percoats, a 1993 LBHS graduate who works as a referee around the section, was on hand as a spectator to see the 73-yard Sams touchdown that broke his 20-year-old career rushing yards record. Sams, while not the biggest player, hits harder than he looks, and broke two tackles on his way to the score. But it's his speed that is his signature. Percoats was a power runner who liked to bulldoze anyone who got in his way.
"In Los Banos tradition, we've had every kind of back you can have. We've had speed guys and power guys," Percoats said. "James is a combination of both. He can break tackles, he can run away from guys, make the big play. He can make the fourth and goal. He's a complete back, and he deserves every bit of it."
Now the Tigers' coaching staff will sit back and figure out who will fit into what roster spots next year -- and there will be big shoes to fill, but LB has players that can fill many different kinds of shoes.
Junior Tyler Cicairos, who played some linebacker and was the backup quarterback can also line up at tight end or receiver. Sophomore Loggan Pimentel quarterbacked the sophomore team and played linebacker, and started two playoff games at linebacker after being called up to varsity. Sophomore Alec Barcellos played every varsity game at tight end and linebacker, and can also line up out wide. Sophomore Bailey Rodriguez played fullback and defensive line.
Versatility will be the name of the game.
"We've got spots to fill, but also spots where some of our guys played," Caropreso said. "After Christmas, we'll start hitting the weights and start doing stuff in sixth period in my football class. We'll give the kids some time to let the wasps get cleared out, and the coaches too."
Enterprise reporter David Witte can be reached by phone at 388-6565 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org