WSL Athletics Football Preview 2021 & Week 0 Preview

Its fall…it’s a new school year…which means one thing and one thing only….FOOTBALL IS BACK! It’s been an interesting 2021 with the past football season ending just a few months ago in the spring and was cut in half to 5 games and no playoffs due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation. Now we’re expected for this season to return to normal in a sense that it will be a full 10-game schedule with playoffs. And starting this season playoffs will look a bit different with a new format in place this seasonwhich I’ll do my best to explain later on in this article, but first let’s get to the goods which is the team breakdowns for this upcoming season.

Dos Palos Broncos 

Coming off winning a historic 50th league title in 2019, it most definitely put them in the conversation with other perennial powerhouses like Mater Dei and De La Salle as one of the winningest programs in the state. as well as finally snapping a long losing streak against hardcore rival Los Banos winning the Cotton Bale. With record-breaking QB Trent Calvert under center He’ll be entering his final season as a Bronco with one goal in mind which is win the valley title which hasn’t been done since 2006. But of course the players are only as good as their coaching staff, Coach Rob Calvert and company have revitalized the program that in recent years have indeed had their rough moments but have indeed persevered through it all. 

2021 Schedule, Predicted Record: (8-2, 3-2 in WSL), Strength of Schedule: A

8/20 @ Los Banos Tigers (Westside War, LB leads the series according to Maxpreps 10-6) 

8/27 vs. Kerman Lions (Calvert vs. Fmr. Firebaugh HS Coach Dejon Kelly) 

9/3 Bye Week, 9/10 @ Exeter Monarchs 

9/17 vs. Chowchilla Tribe 

9/24 vs. McLane Highlanders (DP looking for 3rd straight win in a row) 

10/1 @ Mendota Aztecs (WSL Kickoff/Cross-County Rivalry)

10/8 @ Tranquillity Tigers 

10/15 vs. Firebaugh Eagles (Firebaugh mounted huge comeback in spring season 2021 winning 34-33) 

10/22 vs. Coalinga Horned Toads (Senior Night)

10/29 @ Avenal Buccaneers (WSL & Regular Season Finale) 

Firebaugh Eagles

Firebaugh have had some amazing coaches go through their football program, The Late Chuck Norred (2004-2006), Brandon Moody (2007-2008), William “Bill” Magnusson (2009-2015), and most recently Dejon Kelly (2016-2019) and in 2020 in came in Fmr. Assistant Coach and current Head Coach Mason Rodman as he looks to continue the success his predecessors experienced in his 1st full season at the helm after going (1-4) in the 2021 COVID-shorten season and with a great staff and Quarterback Austin Garcia under center. The Eagles will look to end their Valley Title drought which has gone on since 1994.  

2021 Schedule, Predicted Record: (6-4, 3-2 WSL), Strength of Schedule: B

8/20 vs. El Capitan Gauchos, Merced (Fresno Co. vs. Merced Co. aka: 559 vs. 209)

8/27 @ Fowler Redcats 

9/3 @ Roosevelt Roughriders (Sunnyside Stadium) 

9/10 vs. Caruthers Blue Raiders (2017 Valley Championship Rematch) 

9/17 vs. Kerman Lions (Fmr. Firebaugh HC Dejon Kelly’s Homecoming) 

9/24 Bye Week, 10/1 @ Tranquillity Tigers (WSL Kickoff) 

10/8 @ Avenal Buccaneers 

10/15 @ Dos Palos Broncos (defeated them in a comeback thriller in spring season 2021 by the score of 34-33) 

10/22 vs. Mendota Aztecs (Battle of 33/Spirit Stick) 

10/29 vs. Coalinga Horned Toads (WSL & Regular Season Finale, Senior Night) 

Mendota Aztecs 

Head Coach Beto Mejia is entering his 10th year at Mendota and in those years Mendota has shifted from Divisions 5…to 4…then back to 5 as well as winning 3 Valley Titles (2011, 2012, and 2016) and also took Mendota to a State Playoff game in 2016 as they Aztecs fell to Amador out of Sutter Creek 21-14. Mendota is unfortunately in a middle of a rough streak as they have failed to make the postseason the last three seasons excluding the 2021 spring season since no playoff games were held due to COVID. But are looking to make a turnaround as there were signs of hope during the spring season but their season was cut short due to some players testing positive after their first game against Dos Palos in which QB Juan Ceja set a school record by throwing for 406 yards and they were under the mandated 14 day quarantine period which ended their season. Coach Mejia and company will look to finally shake the monkey off their back and snap their postseason streak as they among many other teams will navigate through a new playoff format in place this year and in his milestone year he looks to get Mendota back into their winning ways of the past. 

2021 Schedule, Predicted Record (8-2, 4-1 WSL), Strength of Schedule: A-

8/20 @ Minarets Mustangs (Originally scheduled to play Yosemite but they cancelled due to COVID protocols) 

8/27 vs. Immanuel Eagles (looking to snap 3-game losing streak, Last win was in 2016 with the score of 42-21) 

9/3 vs. Orange Cove Titans 

9/10 @ Reedley Pirates 

9/17 Bye Week, 9/24 @ Argonaut Mustangs, Jackson CA (CIF Central Section vs. CIF Sac-Joaquin Section)

10/1 vs. Dos Palos Broncos (WSL Kickoff/Cross County Rivalry, Fresno Co. vs. Merced Co.) 

10/8 @ Coalinga Horned Toads 

10/15 vs. Avenal Buccaneers

10/22 @ Firebaugh Eagles (Battle of 33/Spirit Stick) 

10/29 vs. Tranquillity Tigers (The Old School Rivalry aka: The League’s Most Hated Rivalry/Senior Night)  

Tranquillity Tigers

Probably one of the oldest high schools among the league members, Tranquility have had their good years and have unfortunately have had more rough years than they would like. The last time they had winning seasons was when Coach Willie Adney was at the helm and those winning seasons were (2004, 2005, 2008, and 2009) and the last time that they won the WSL was back in (2004) which was called West Sierra #2 and included Liberty-Madera Ranchos and Fresno Christian and also in 2009 in which would be Coach Adney’s last year at the helm. In 2018 they hired former alumni Mike Martinez who had coaching stints in Firebaugh, Mendota, and West Hills College Coalinga, And well his first season didn’t start on the right foot as they finished 0-10 but since then they’ve made improvements as well as pick up their number little by little. He’s entering his 4th season at the helm and he combines faith and football to uplift not just the football program but the community despite their obstacles over the years. 

2021 Schedule, Predicted Record: (5-5, 1-4 WSL), Strength of Schedule: C+

8/20 vs. Riverdale Cowboys 

8/27 vs. McFarland Cougars 

9/3 vs. Le Grand Bulldogs 

9/10 vs. Farmersville Aztecs 

9/17 Bye Week, 9/25 (Sat.) @ Morro Bay Pirates (Ocean League vs. West Sierra) 

10/1 vs. Firebaugh Eagles 

10/8 vs. Dos Palos Broncos 

10/15 @ Coalinga Horned Toads 

10/22 vs. Avenal Buccaneers (Senior Night) 

10/29 @ Mendota Aztecs (The Old School Rivalry aka: The League’s Most Hated Rivalry)  

Coalinga Horned Toads

After joining the West Sierra in 2013 coming in from the Central Sequoia just several years ago, Coalinga have done some impressive things including in their first season winning league undefeated, being part of the history by being 5-way WSL Co-Champs in 2014, And have been a fixture in the postseason for quite some time but like some if not most of their counterparts around the league have yet to taste success as valley champions but they haven’t and will continue to pursue that honor. And they’ve had some good coaches along the way starting with John Villa who led them to their first WSL title in 2013, To Ron Redding who led them into the postseason as well as Coach Villa. And this season in comes new coach Jose Piz who was at the JV level for 9 years and will have some experience on his staff as he brought back in Fmr. Head Coach Ron Redding as offensive coordinator. 

2021 Schedule, Predicted Record: (6-4, 3-2 WSL), Strength of Schedule: B 

8/20 @ Caruthers Blue Raiders 

8/27 vs. Templeton Eagles 

9/3 vs. McFarland Cougars 

9/10 vs. Granite Hills Grizzlies 

9/17 @ Sierra Pacific Golden Bears 

9/24 Bye Week, 10/1 @ Avenal Buccaneers (WSL Kickoff/Debut of 1st year coaches Piz, Coalinga and Wisniowski, Avenal) 

10/8 vs. Mendota Aztecs 

10/15 vs. Tranquillity Tigers (Senior Night)  

10/22 @ Dos Palos Broncos 

10/29 @ Firebaugh Eagles 

Avenal Buccaneers

This year will be the year…is what Buccaneers nation have been saying for years since the days of competing for league and have made brief appearances in the Valley Title games as a member of Division 6. But since then they have indeed struggled and since 2015 the year they last appeared in the Valley Title game, They have yet to produce a winning season and it’s been going on for 5 seasons. The last time Avenal had winning seasons it happened four times by only three coaches, Gabriel Nieto (2006 & 2007), Ryan Vercruysse (2012), and Charles Price (2014 & 2015). This year they start the season with new head coach Josh Wisniowski and are hoping to finally end the drought of losing seasons and see the light at the end of the tunnel. 

2021 Schedule, Predicted Record: (5-5, 1-4 WSL), Strength of Schedule: C 

8/20 vs. McFarland Cougars (Debut of 1st year coaches, Wisniowski, Avenal vs. Manny Munoz, McFarland) 

8/27 @ Farmersville Aztecs 

9/3 vs. Parlier Panthers 

9/10 @ Riverdale Cowboys 

9/17 @ Orosi Cardinals 

9/24 Bye Week, 10/1 vs. Coalinga (WSL Kickoff and Debut of 1st Yr. coaches, Wisniowski, Avenal vs. Piz, Coalinga) 

10/8 vs. Firebaugh Eagles 

10/15 @ Mendota Aztecs 

10/22 @ Tranquillity Tigers 

10/29 vs. Dos Palos Broncos (WSL & Regular Season Finale/Senior Night) 

Week 0 Predictions 8/20 

Dos Palos Broncos @ Los Banos Tigers, Westside War @ Loftin Stadium, DP wins by 7

Firebaugh Eagles vs. El Capitan Gauchos (Merced), Firebaugh by 7 

Mendota Aztecs @ Minarets Mustangs (Original opponent Yosemite cancelled), Mendota by 21

Coalinga Horned Toads @ Caruthers Blue Raiders, Caruthers wins by 10 

Avenal Bucs vs. McFarland Cougars, Avenal by 6 

Tranquillity Tigers vs. Riverdale Cowboys, Riverdale by 14 

Source of stats:

I hope you all stay safe, healthy and happy as we embark on another football season. Good luck to all teams and coaching staffs and as always GO FRESNO STATE, BEAT THE UCONN HUSKIES!!! 

Kevin Arias-Romero, Editor-in-Chief, WSL Athletics & WSL Correspondent, The Pagmeter

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