WSL Athletics 2023 Football Preview
Can Mendota end their 5-year WSL Title drought? By: Kevin Arias-Romero, Editor-in-Chief, WSL Athletics & WSL Contributor, The Pagmeter.
This Friday, Mendota will head off to Madera County and march into Hawk Stadium looking to snap a 4-game losing streak and to start off the 2023 season on the right foot before coming back home for their home opener on the 25th vs. McLane. The last time Mendota defeated Liberty-Madera Ranchos was back on September 2nd, 2016. Mendota will have a small QB room this season with Bernie Camacho (Sr.) and Ryan Preciado (Jr.) as well as a solid running back committee including Jesse Rodriguez (Jr) and returning to varsity after a temporary stint during last season’s playoff run will be Hawk Garcia (Sophomore). The
Mendota is coming off winning the Division 6 Section Title and finishing Runner-Up for the Division 7-AA State Title in which history was made with Mendota both hosting and playing in a state championship game in school history capping off a (9-6) season and 3rd place finish in the West Sierra. Mendota is looking forward to defending their section title as well as being on the hunt for the WSL Title which they last won back in the 2016-2017 season in undefeated fashion, The same season where The Aztecs made their 1st appearance in the CIF State Playoffs finishing (13-1). Head coach Beto Mejia will enter his 13th season as Varsity Head Coach and has done well in his tenure, carrying an impressive (92-45) record as well as winning 4 Valley/Section Titles in 7 Finals Appearances (3 In Division 6, 1 In Division 5, And 3-Time Runner-Ups in Divisions 4,5, and 6). He has 9 winning seasons out of 12 and out of those as well as 3 double-digit win seasons (2016-2017: 13 wins, 2013-2014: 11 wins, and 2011-2012: 12 wins) and an undefeated season (2011-2012 season). He also coached in The City-County All Star Game in 2012 and led The County squad to victory. In his 12 seasons he’s (7-5) in season Openers.
Avenal this past season made the postseason after a 7-year absence and posted a winning season for the first time since 2015 when they went (8-5) and were Division 6 Section Runner-Ups losing to Kennedy (Delano). last year the team was led by longtime head coach David Lewis who led them to a (5-5) finish which earned them the #3 seed in the Division 6 Section Playoffs and made it as far as the semifinals losing on the road at eventual runner-up Hanford West, but this upcoming season is not the case. Avenal Buccaneer Football this year will be led by 1st year Head Coach Isaiah Vargas as they will kickoff the season This Friday Night with their season/home opener against The McFarland Cougars who is also under new leadership in the form of 1st year Head Coach Norm Brown…The Question is For Whom Will the Bell Toll For as signaling their 1st win with a new school? Vargas or Brown? Buccaneers or Cougars? Avenal or McFarland?
Firebaugh is coming off a rough season last year which wasn’t what 1st year Head Coach Jorge Saldana and his staff wanted for the team as they finished the season (2-8) and near the bottom of the standings. They have been rebuilding and just like with most teams of the in the league this past season the rosters consisted of young players and not many upperclassmen but nonetheless they did what do best and trusted the mantra that is instilled in the program which is A.P.O. which means “Adjust, Persevere, Overcome”. Head Coach Saldana and The Eagles will look to start off the year right, but it won’t be easy as they will travel to Reedley to take on The Pirates and their high-powered Triple Option offense led by Head Coach Tony Gates.
Dos Palos is one of the most well-established powerhouse teams in the West Sierra League and for the past 8 seasons have been led by longtime Head Coach Rob Calvert. In those 8 seasons, He has a record of (47-20, .701 Win Percentage) and an impressive (21-2, .913 Win Percentage) Record in the WSL. Along with 3 WSL Titles, All Undefeated and 3 WSL Runner-Up finishes. And Postseason has posted an (8-5) Record with a Division 2 First Round appearance (2021) Division 5 Quarterfinal appearance (2016), 2 Division 5 Semifinal appearances (2015 and 2022). Some of their playmakers who made a splash last season are coming back hoping to lead the Broncos of Dos Palos back to the Section Title game which they’ve last appeared in back in 2019 and those players are. Senior Running Back, Julio Garcia, Senior Quarterback and WSL MVP Peyton Van Worth, Senior Running Back Drake Hennagan, And Junior Wide Receiver Sixto Ibarra. Dos Palos will start their 2023 season by making the 17-mile drive West on Highway 33 to Loftin Stadium to go against archrival The Tigers of Los Banos in another edition of the Westside War.
Coalinga is coming off an impressive 2022 season which one of the highlights was winning their 4th WSL Title on their 10th year anniversary of joining the West Sierra and their 2nd undefeated Title. Head Coach Jose Piz is entering his 3rd year and they are ready to defend their WSL Title and make another deep run in the playoffs. Coming back this season is playmakers like Junior QB Noah Tasi, Junior WRs Dylan Teixeira and Gavin Watson, Senior Tackle Donovan Urbina, And Senior RB Gustavo Alvarado and on the defensive side of the ball it will be led by a Senior Committee of Bransen Peters, Wyatt Worth, Ray Osuna, and Wilmar Toscano. The defending WSL Champion Horned Toads of Coalinga will start their season on the road going east on Highway 33/145 to take on a very competitive Caruthers Blue Raiders who last season escaped with a narrow 21-14 victory spoiling Coalinga’s home/season opener.
Tranquillity Tigers are led by entering his 6th year at his alma mater and every year the question is usually how many will show up for the 1st day of practice. It’s been a rough couple of years but despite all the obstacles both on the field as well as off the field. It hasn’t deterred his athletes from competing hard in practices and in the games. His purpose is to give back and serve his kids and community. Whether it be at the high school or organizing youth sports and camps for the kids in both Tranquillity and San Joaquin. His motto comes from the bible and it’s from Proverbs 27:17 and it reads “Iron Sharpens Iron, So One Person Sharpens Another.” Leading the defense this year will be Senior Josue Avilas and Santi Ambriz and on Offense it will be Senior QB AJ Reynoso and Freshman Receiver Alvaro Lopez and The Mighty Tigers of Tranquillitylook to roar into the 2023 season on the road At Riverdale against the Cowboys.
Good Luck to all the teams this season and as always GO FRESNO STATE!
Kevin Arias-Romero, Editor-in-Chief, WSL Athletics and WSL Contributor, The Pagmeter