Third time is definitely the charm, at least for the Turlock Jr. Pride who come off a fantastic third season competing in the Trans Valley Youth Football League.
The Novice and JV teams went undefeated at 10-0 during the regular season and the Varsity squad notched a Super Bowl victory over the Hilmar Packers and the head man, Thad Moren, could not be any more excited about the direction the program is taking.
Tuesday marked the start of the new year with less than two weeks until the first regular season contest.
“I think the coaches we have out here, at all levels, have the knowledge needed to help these kids progress,” said Moren, who also coaches the Varsity team. “After this kind of year we are excited because we have some former Pitman players helping out and it should be an exciting year.”
Only two players return to the Varsity team for Moren, for a renovated squad that looks diverse.
“Looking forward to the scrimmage this weekend and that will give us an idea of what we need to work on. It’s a smaller team, so we will get a lot of playing time for the kids,” said Moren. “We’re looking forward to it and the kids know what we’re doing.”
Blocking and tackling are some major skills that coach Moren has really emphasized on working on for his Varsity team that is made up primarily of eighth-grade students.
“We know we can get better at anything after mastering those two things,” Moren said. “Also I think we have a lot of good running backs. It’s just a matter of getting them all the ball and get some good blocking.”
Steve Spiegel takes over the reins as the head coach for the JV level after the team finished a perfect regular season at 10-0 heading into the first round of the playoffs, where they lost to the eventual champion Modesto Patriots by six points.
“It was a great game and it went triple overtime,” said Spiegel.
Fortunately for Spiegel he returns a majority of the core of his team for a chance to take it all this year.
“We kind of got the same core of guys, which we have been fortunate to have kids stick with the program and it is beneficial all around,” Spiegel said. “The outlook for every year is to have the kids to learn to like the game and for nobody to get hurt. Everything else will fall into play.”
The Novice level has a new head coach in Jamel Foreman, who moves over from last year's defensive coordinator position and brings on an enthusiasm and excitement for the game that is clearly evident during the team’s practice.
“I just want to step in and teach the kids the fundamentals and just to make sure they are following the rules and protocols of some of the heads-up program,” said Foreman.
After losing in the first round of the playoffs last year, Foreman has his sights set on a fresh start that could hopefully end better than the previous year.
“We got a lot of returners and new players so were excited about the season and a second chance to finish what we started last year,” said Foreman. “We should be strong at the line position because we have some secret weapons there.”
The Jr. Novice team does not record stats or take down score but with head coach Dave Langford and the help of Moren, the younger kids are hoping to enjoy the game and learn the basics as they embark on the start of their football careers.
“I think it goes to blocking and tackling and getting that down at this level because if they can get that down then we will be ok,” Moren added. “At this level they do it simpler, but they learn the number system and play calling system to make it easier for the following year.”