Varsity is the highest level of competition for Turlock Youth Football and this upcoming season, the Jr. Pride and Bulldogs are both seeking a standout season with a pool of talent at their disposal.
Joe Lewis is back to head the 'Dogs while Pride head coach Mike Egleston enters his sixth season with the varsity group and expectations couldn't be any higher.
“I always expect us not just to make playoffs but to be battling for the Super Bowl and to do that it's usually us with Buhach and Oakdale, so I think it should be like that again,” said Lewis.
However, Lewis and his Bulldogs squad are coming off their worst season in over two decades.
“We missed playoffs for the first time in as long as I can remember, probably 20 years, and it was just a down year record wise, we had a lot of close games,” said Lewis.
The 'Dogs were the center piece of close games during the 2016 campaign that included four losses in the final two minutes.
“We lost I think four games in the final two minutes, and three of those we had the lead the whole game,” said Lewis. “It was just a tough year and we hope to rebound this year, and we seem to have more numbers coming up from lower level as well.”
This year, Lewis is welcoming back 20 returners whereas the prior year the number was only 13.
With a larger roster, the 'Dogs are foreseeing a positive turnout.
“So, it’s good to have more numbers for practice. I feel we should be solid on both sides of the ball,” said Lewis. “We have a couple of guys that are coming up that played big roles for us and they are all looking to play a big part with us this year.”
Egleston and his Jr. Pride squad are coming off a playoff season just a year prior with an 8-2 regular season record.
“We made the playoffs as the second seed, should have been first seed, but heading into playoffs we had injuries late in the year,” said Egleston. “The first playoff game we lost our star running back and linebacker and lost that game, we beat them first time we played them during the year.”
However, this year's team has only two returners coming back.
“It's kind of a mystery since they didn't play much last year,” said Egleston of his two returners. “And the rest are coming up from JV, but they were a Super Bowl team. Looks like most are skilled players who stayed down and linemen came up, so I need somebody to carry the ball for us now.”
“Line shouldn't be too bad, we have most of the great line and should be fine. Our quarterback coming up broke his arm two weeks ago and he should be out for a while,” he added.
The Bulldogs open up the season against Livingston on Aug. 26. The Pride will take on Atwater on Aug. 26.