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New season, new name for former Titans
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The Turlock Junior Pride JV squad runs offensive play drills at Mondays practice at Pitman High. - photo by EDDIE RUIZ / The Journal

The Turlock Titans are starting their 2013 season with a new name and new partnership. The Titans are now the Turlock Jr. Pride after the former Titans President and Pitman High Coach Thad Moren decided to combine their programs to begin a new era in the gridiron.

The new team will be a part of the Trans Valley Youth Football League as they strive to provide a safe and fun environment  following the guidelines of the NFL Heads Up program. The Jr. Pride gives all kids the opportunity to play and learn the fundamentals leading to the next level of play. One of the goals for the program is to make the transition from youth football to high school that much smoother.

“We started working on it last October as we just decided to build something from scratch and make it happen. The Titans had troubles last year and came together with us and we combined it and used all the equipment together and tried to be part of something bigger,” Jr. Pride VP Thad Moren said.

“TVYFL has come together with the NFL Heads Up program to reduce concussions and show proper technique, which has been a key focal point for the parents and safety,” Jr. Pride President James Russell said. “This is a great step ahead into a new and safer era of youth football.”

After a complete overhaul, half of the players from the previous season where lost, however, the remaining half were met by new incomers. The 10-play rule for each player last year will remain intact for the new season.

Coming off a 10-2 season with a Super Bowl loss to Modesto Christian by a score of 18-12, novice head coach Dave Fernandes hopes that his squad will repeat a successful year.

“We went into that Super Bowl as two touchdown underdogs and M.C. was undefeated. It was a 12-12 game at halftime and they scored with two minutes left in the game,” Fernandes said. “It was tough because of the errors and fumbles we had, mental mistakes, but the kids did play their hearts out. Nobody gave us a chance, but it was successful and an eye opener for everyone.”

With only 22 players this year compared to last year’s 32, including eight returners, the team has great depth at the offensive line, running back, quarterback and wide receivers positions.

“This year we have a great looking football team so I don’t expect anything less from our teams. It’s about making sure that the kids learn the basics of football and that’s what we taught last year as the Titans and we will continue it,” Fernandes said. “It’d be nice to return to where we were last year, but as long as the kids have fun and learn that’s our main goal.”

At the Jr. Novice level there are no playoffs, records or stats that are recorded due to the age mark; instead the focus at this level of play is more on the elements of the game and preparing the kids for the next level of play.

“At this level we don’t really worry about playoffs. Instead, we worry about the fundamentals of the game and teaching them the safety so the kids can have fun,” Jr. Novice head coach Paul Bertao said.

Some returners for the Jr. Novice squad include Michael Garcia at the line; Marty Bertao and Aric Singh will be playing at QB; AJ Magana will be another corner back; and JT Foreman will be at fullback and Caleb Petero at tailback.

The Varsity squad finished the 2012 season with a 2-8 record after struggling early on in the season and missing the playoffs.

“We couldn’t come back after failing to put up a fight early in the year with an understaffed team. Now, we are fully staffed in all positions and it should be a great year,” Varsity head coach Mark Padilla said.

Joseph Campos is one of the key returners in the backfield for Coach Padilla as they look to turn things around from the previous year. Tyler Stout and Sonny Uppal will be the rotating QBs for the Varsity squad, with the help of linebacker Daniel Padilla on the defensive side.

“These kids will be very key focal points, but with the help of the new kids, we should be alright,” Padilla said bout his team. “Staying safe is the main point and also having fun. We want everyone to learn something. It’s going to be an exciting year from here on out. We have a good coaching staff.”

On the JV side, the squad had a difficult time as they missed the playoffs and finished the year with a 1-9 record.

“The team we did beat had more wins than all the teams we lost to,” JV head coach Skip Machado said. “There are always reasons for struggling. Putting everything together and injuries are what hurt us.”

Now, with a fresh start, coach Machado comes in with a very well-rounded and talented group of kids all across the board, filled with depth in every position.

“I believe the kids all have a lot of potential. It is hard to say, but we are very balanced all the way around. We got depth and linebacker, running backs, quarterbacks, we are very deep in every position,” Machado said. “Of course we want to win, but we are also here for the kids to have fun, learn and the main thing is to build character, learning team work, goal setting and tenacity and achieving goals.”

The Jr. Pride will kick off their season on Aug. 17 against Modesto Christian in Modesto.