The players and coaches of Turlock Youth Football’s Bulldog teams are welcoming the new year with open arms and high expectations.
All four levels are ready to compete, with the varsity and junior varsity side expecting a big year.
“Every year in TYF as a whole we expect all our teams to be in the playoffs fighting for a championship,” said Bulldog varsity (12-14 years-old) head coach Joe Lewis.
“We’re looking balanced overall at all levels,” said Bulldog JV (10-11 years-old) head coach Ryan Pruitt.
Pruitt and his JV Bulldogs went 6-4 last season, finishing fourth in the Cen Cal Youth Football League.
“Our record doesn’t tell our season; most of our losses were decided by three points or less,” said Pruitt. “Very tough, very low scoring season… and as the No. 2 ranked defense, we just had struggles in real tight scoring games.”
Following their fourth place finish a year ago, the JV Bulldogs followed up with a playoff berth, but fell to Livingston in the first round. Now, the JV squad is looking for more than redemption and expectations are very high.
“Expectations are like they are every year, go into the Super Bowl and win it,” said Pruitt. “We have Dustin Kellison, and Syncyr Sanders and Donovan Muirbrook… we actually look deep in talent, but those are the three who will start us off, the skill players, I think after tryouts, those names will be leaders… a lot more talent this year than we have had in the past, quite a few standouts.”
The Bulldog varsity squad went 8-2 last year under the leadership of head coach Lewis and had a successful season.
They fell in the first round of the playoffs, dropping a game to Oakdale, 30-28.
“We missed two PAT, which are two points in youth, we would have won. Oakdale went on to win it all,” said Lewis. “This year we are young, but I expect to make the playoffs and compete like we do every year. Lukas Garza is one of my returning second year players. I expect big things from him and Eli Watson is another.”
At the peewee (8-9 years-old) level, head coach Lloyd Souza is confident that his squad is ready for another standout year after they went 9-3 last year and reached the Super Bowl, where they lost, 12-1, to the Pride squad.
“We have a great group that came up from the rookies,” said Souza. “Always, we feel that we could make it back to the Super Bowl. We lost a tough game last year to the peewee Pride team but we're expecting to be back there fighting for the championship again. Also, our returners include Hudson Baldwin, Christian Gutierrez, Hunter Muirbrook, Cameron Higgins — we're expecting big things from them.”
At the rookie (6-7 years-old) level, Bulldogs head coach Mike Compton is confident in his up and coming squad.
Last year, the Bulldogs shutout the Pride in the Bud Bowl, 18-0, and are hoping to have a similar outcome and then some, considering the postseason will be implemented in the new year for the rookies.
The first game is slated for Aug. 24.