The start of August means that football season has finally arrived and on Monday, the area's youngest football players laced up their cleats and put on their helmets to begin the intense week of conditioning to kickoff the 2015 campaign.
Among the two squads for the Turlock Youth Football program are the newly named Bulldogs, which used to known as the Vikings.
“Just a name change; we are trying to equate with both high schools so the community can get a feel for both schools in a way,” said Bulldog varsity head coach Joe Lewis. “Nothing has changed but the name showing the backing for both the high schools in town.”
Lewis' team comes off an 8-2 regular season record where his squad rallied into the postseason and won the first game only to lose in the AFC Championship game to the number one seed Buhach.
Back for a chance at redemption, the varsity team welcomes many from a JV squad that won the Super Bowl last year at the lower level.
“I expect big things from these kids, and I always do every year, but when you come from a championship team then you should be ready to defend the title,” Lewis said about his newcomers' experience.
Jake Abrams is looking to take on the quarterbacking duties for Lewis' team with Steven Silva working as a young running back who should get a lot of playing time.
Depth is evident at nearly every position for the varsity Bulldogs, which has a higher number than usual at both the skill position (14) and at the linemen position (17), a spot that is an extremely vital asset for all teams.
But the biggest asset for the varsity team is their ability to hit said Lewis.
JV head coach Tim Roberts comes off a sensational Super Bowl performance and victory with a team that boasted a 6-4 regular season output.
“I called it the 'come back tour' since we had to beat all the teams that beat us during the season in the playoffs,” said Roberts. “And that is how we did it, even though we were young.”
Well the team is young once again, but having quarterback Seth McGill and Tyson Weatherbee will lend a hand to the youth and hopefully assist the team in fighting for a chance to repeat.
Lee Avila and his Peewee squad come off a 10-3 overall record performance in 2014, with the team set on another successful year after losing to Ceres in the Divisional game.
“I was proud of the boys for going that far and playing hard, which Ceres went on to win it all, they had athletes that were unstoppable,” said Avila. “I was proud of the boys that we made it where we did.”
Now the new year brings a fresh start and new faces for coach Avila to gather and mold into a team that could potentially meet their rivals—the Junior Pride in the Super Bowl.
The team is incredibly talented, with competition set at nearly every position, but you can expect to see great things from Chase and Cole Hendrix among others.
Joey Stout, Alex Velasquez, Joshua Weatherbee and Guillermo Solorio will be another group of skilled players to boost the roster for Avila.
“I am looking forward to a great year and to have some fun,” Avila added. “I've got a lot of talent; it's just the thing of putting these kids in the right position and places to be successful.”
The Rookie team welcomes back second-year head coach Ryan Pruitt of Oakdale to head the youngest of the bunch after taking the team into the second round of the playoffs in 2014.
“At my level we are teaching the kids to play ball and get ready for the next level. I expect for them to play hard and learn to play the game,” he said. “I'm hoping and looking for the Super Bowl and hoping we can win. We've got a lot of kids with heart and we'll see what happens.”