The peewee level of Turlock Youth Football might be one step above the youngest group, but the level of talent on both the Jr. Pride and Bulldog roster seems to be unmatched for the upcoming season.
Jr. Pride head coach Matt Day is coming off back-to-back Super Bowl victories and is expecting the same outcome with this year's roster.
“Last year was fantastic and for us, we are bringing back 33 returning players,” said Day. “So, the team is essentially returning to full strength, 18 of them are 10. Last year we were mostly 9-year-olds, and this year, no reason we cannot repeat, granted they are kids but more mature team.”
The team capped off the season with a record of 11-2 in 2016 following an undefeated year in 2015.
“Because we were so strong, we just drafted six kids, real excited for them, and will fit them in to make us stronger,” said Day. “That is the problem, I have a team with so many great players, strong across the board. With a good running back core led by the Bertalotto twins.”
Day also emphasized the significance of his coaching staff along with multiple fast skill players. This combination has the entire team optimistic about the upcoming year.
“When I coach we play the fundamentals but real fast and quick,” said Day. “We expect the same result, this is a team that we’ve been coaching for a while. For the most part, we have a good seasoned staff that knows how to coach football, which helps as well.”
The Bulldogs welcome in first year head coach Ryan Pruitt, who was with the rookies last season.
Last year's team however, managed to make a playoff run after they made it into the second round of the tournament.
“My son was on Peewee's last year and it was an on and off year, but they came together down the stretch in the end,” said Pruitt. “The majority of my team for this year came from rookies last year and we lost to the team that won Super Bowl last year, so we have a good chance to make it after making it last year.”
Pruitt is expecting his team to be a hard-nosed team that runs it down the opposition’s throat.
“No finesse, we are just going to run it down your throat,” said Pruitt. “I got everything I need, just a few spots to fill. Bradley Green and Dustin Kellerson that were absolute beasts for us and Jose Flores as well, three really good kids, positions are up in the air and we have Shamgochian as well.”
The expectations are there and coach Pruitt is hoping that his excitement will trickle down to his team as the first game approaches.
“Things change as they get older as well, and the kids are extremely excited. I wasn't until I was out here realizing the long days, I love it,” said Pruitt.
The Bulldogs open up the season against Livingston on Aug. 26. The Pride will take on Atwater on Aug. 26.