Los Banos, Pacheco and Dos Palos have all released their football schedules for this fall.
Pacheco, which went 7-4 last year with a first-round playoff exit, will travel to Bear River High (6-4 last year) in Grass Valley, about as far north as you can get and still be in the Sac-Joaquin Section, for a Week 0 opener on Aug. 29. The same night, Los Banos (5-5) will host the Central Section’s Madera High (4-8).
“We’re excited. It’s far enough away we can turn it into an overnight trip and an experience,” Pacheco coach David Snapp said. “Bear River is a strong Division 4 team that has tradition, and we’re looking to bump our schedule up a little bit.”
Dos Palos (3-7) opens Aug. 28 at Immanuel (5-7), a private school in Reedley, and is on the road for four of its five preseason games – at Immanuel, Caruthers (7-5), Pacheco and Chowchilla (4-6) and at home for the Westside War against Los Banos.
“We’re moving to Division 5 and we wanted to have more Division 5 schools on our schedule so we had to make that sacrifice,” Dos Palos coach Shawn Garrick said. “It will work out in our benefit though the following year.”
Los Banos coach Dustin Caropreso said he doesn’t know much yet about Madera, but has asked around a bit about Los Bano’ Week 1 opponent, Scotts Valley (8-3), which is near Santa Cruz.
“Le Grand played them two years ago, so I talked to Rick (Martinez) and Raul (Alvarez) on them, and they said you know what, they’re not going to make mistakes, they’re going to be consistent, stuff like that,” Caropreso said. “We’re looking forward to going over there – some of our kids have never been to Santa Cruz before, so that’s a plus.”
Pacheco’s home opener will be Sept. 5 against Heritage-Brentwood (1-9), which lost to nine playoff teams last year, eight of them by 14 points or fewer. Pacheco finishes the preseason at Dos Palos and home against Buhach Colony.
“We wanted to schedule a bit tougher,” Snapp said. “With Central Catholic leaving our league, that behooves us to schedule tougher and get our kids tougher. We want to be one of the teams others are chasing.”
Los Banos’ last two nonleague games are Grace Davis-Modesto (2-7-1) and Dos Palos. Caropreso said he’s sad to see Central Catholic leave the Western Athletic Conference, but he’s glad he won’t have to play Dos Palos and Central Catholic back-to-back any more.
“I’m really good friends with Roger (Canepa) and the Central Catholic staff, and I hate seeing them leave, to be honest,” Caropreso said. “I thought if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best, that’s one thing I take from when Coach Stubbs was here. That’s why you play your preseason games and try to get some good ones in there, because of the simple fact that if you want to beat the Central Catholics, you’re going to have to play.”
Central Catholic will be replaced on the league slate with El Capitan, which plays its first season of varsity ball this fall. That’s a place Snapp has been before, when he led Pacheco to a 2-8 record three years ago.
“In a way, I’m disappointed Central Catholic is out, but I’m also excited. It’s an all-public-school thing now,” Snapp said. “People throw the recruiting thing out there. I don’t think any private school is actually recruiting, but when you get a tradition, kids want to be a part of it. I think having them out skews the league back to being wide open.”