By Kevin Romero

WSL Athletics Week 5 Review/Week 6 Preview: Coalinga putting WSL/Central Section on notice, Avenal and Tranquillity on the move on up.
Avenal has had this date circled in their schedule since November 18th, 2022, when they last met up against the Hanford West Huskies in the Division 6 Semifinals where Hanford West would go on to win 27-12 but would eventually lose to The Mendota Aztecs in the Division 6 Section Finals. Avenal is under a new head coach who is Isaiah Vargas and so far, this season has been a new chapter in their program as they are on track to finish with consecutive winning seasons as last season they finished with a (7-6) record. The last time this happened was the 2014-2015 season and 2015-2016 season going a combined (17-9) both under Former Head Coach Charles Price. So fast forward 302 days later and it’s a duel in Kings County and it was a competitive game throughout but in the end The Buccaneers of Avenal held off the Huskies’ advances and defended their “Island” with a 20-10 victory and move on to (4-1) keeping pace with current WSL leader Coalinga. They will have this week off which gives them a week plus to get ready for their WSL Opener on the road against a strongly competitive Dos Palos Broncos squad next week.
Coalinga Horned Toads are the team that’s making plenty of noise in not only the WSL but now across the section with their week-to-week strong performances with shutout victories against Selma and Reedley outscoring those teams 70-0. This past week they hosted The Guardians of Justin Garza High School out of Fresno and after both teams exchanged field goals in the first quarter but then Coalinga kicked into high gear and with their key playmakers including Juniors Dylan Teixeira, Gavin Watson and Noah Tasi and Senior Wyatt Worth. Coalinga then would push their lead further after keeping Justin Garza off the board in the 2nd and 3rd Quarters as well as scoring 17 points entering the 4th quarter with a 20-3 lead then throughout the game unsportsmanlike penalties kept Justin Garza in the game and in the final quarter made a final push but would fall short despite keeping Coalinga off the board and scoring 12 of their own. Coalinga would go on to win their fourth straight game after their 20-15 victory. Coalinga will next host the Washington Union Panthers in their final preseason game before WSL Opening Night September 29th.
I had a chance to interview both Junior QB Noah Tasi and Coalinga Head Coach Jose Piz afterwards getting their thoughts on the game and the season so far.
Postgame Interview with Coalinga Head Coach Jose Piz, (KR = myself, CJP = Coach Jose Piz)
KR: What was the gameplan prep for Justin Garza?
CJP: We’ve been keeping an eye on these guys since the summer and have been to everything we’ve gone to and seen them play and ball out as well as working hard, it’s great to be able to have competition like Justin Garza as they’re so well-coached as well as having a great program. And to pull off a win against a program like that really helps to show all the work that we and the kids have done on full display. Because this isn’t something that just happened last week, it’s been going on for 9 months in the making and we’re in the game to put an exclamation point as these kids deserve it for working their butts since the beginning of the season. With workouts, 7-on-7 competitions, 6am drives to Sacramento and late-night drives back home. And it’s not on accident, it’s something that we’ve been getting ready for.

KR: What was the halftime message to the team?
CJP: Our defense kept shutting them out, ending their drives and a lot of what happened is they also would be penalized and wouldn’t be able to recover those yards that were lost. I give it up to my defense as they’re always on point and know what’s going on and again, we know what’s going on and we’re there.
KR: So, it was a close win due to penalties keeping Garza in the game. What’s the game plan to get ready for your preseason finale against Washington Union?
CJP: Just to get ready, studying their in’s and out’s and it will be a game that we will be prepared, And we just got to study film and run our routine.
KR: How do you feel about finally helping this team the respect they deserve and putting Coalinga on the map across the league and The Central Section?CJP: Honestly getting our kids out there and taking them to 7-on-7s to get them exposure which is one of the ways we do it as well as putting out their film and highlights as well as their stats, And I’m going to make sure my kid’s stats are up by the next day and it’s important to me that everything is up and would like everyone to see how hard my kids work their butts off day in and day out.

Postgame interview with Coalinga Junior QB Noah Tasi (KR = Myself, NT = Noah Tasi)
KR: Last season it was a 3-man race for WSL MVP and Offensive POY with yourself, Dos Palos QB Peyton Van Worth and Mendota QB Juan Ceja. How did it feel when you weren’t named to either selection?
NT: I felt a lot of frustration came out of it when I wasn’t selected, And I was disappointed after leading the team to an undefeated league title and it fueled me this season to help lead my guys and be a better quarterback and to hopefully win another WSL Title and beyond.
KR: So, from your point of view, what did you take from your coaches’ halftime speech?
NT: It was a dogfight, and our defense was playing lights out which helped us keep them from scoring, but we did struggle to find the endzone. So, 2nd half we started to find more holes in their defense and establish our run game more with guys like Gustavo Alvarado shout out to him as he was good at getting us downfield and getting help from our playmakers like Gavin Watson, Wyatt Worth, Ray Osuna, and Dylan Teixeira. And we came out and kind of adjusted our game plan despite not doing anything wrong, but we were just struggling to finish.
KR: How as a player do you keep and help keep your team’s emotions in check with all the penalties being called against your team?
NT: We have a lot of high-strung people on our team and a couple of different attitudes as well as different personalities and I try to keep it relax and chill and I’m the guy that sets the tone for the offense and they look up to me and when they see me up that they’re up also and whenever they see me make the wrong read, take a sack and make mistakes. So they see how I respond and take it to heart.

KR: How will you and your team prep for Washington Union?
NT: Well, starting the next day, before the end of the night our coach is going to release our film and tomorrow will get film on Washington Union and my QB Coach, Coach Earls is really good about film and breaking it down and that elevated my game to the next level and had to work more and get more experience under my belt and get mentally prepared as well.
KR: Do you believe that you and your team have done enough to put the Central Section on notice amongst some of the powerhouse teams out of Fresno, Clovis, and Bakersfield area?
NT: Oh yes for sure and I guarantee that we can compete with anybody in the valley, and I mean it, I love every single one of my teammates. We got some dogs on our teams in all units, Offense, Defense, and Special Teams and we have one of the best kickers in the valley in Ernesto Villanueva. We have playmakers all around and I think we deserve our respect.

Tranquillity have so far shown up week in and week out every day since day spring/summer ball and so far have done really well and have shown improvement year by year and so far they have started out to a (2-2) record with wins over Farmersville and Sierra and are looking to keep up their momentum with their preseason finale which is also the start of a 3-game road trip with their first visit being a 1 hour and 5 minute drive east on Highway 180 and north on Highway 41 to the mountains to go up against The Mustangs of Minarets. They won’t return home till October 13th vs. The Dos Palos Broncos.

Firebaugh started off hot winning their first two games but since then have hit a wall and have lost 3 straight which included last week loss to Immanuel which was a close affair, but it was a last-minute touchdown for Immanuel that would ultimately seal the deal 26-22. Firebaugh will have two weeks to prep for and hopefully shake the rust off as well as to snap their losing streak and as well as potentially pulling the upset which would be killing three birds with one stone in their WSL Opener against the current WSL leaders Coalinga on Thursday September 28th, It was originally scheduled for Friday the 29th but due to lack of officials the game had to be moved to a Thursday night.
Dos Palos had the week off last week and will take their (3-1) record on the road west on the 152 for the 30-minute drive to take on another (3-1) team in the Chowchilla Tribe in their preseason finale before they open WSL Play versus the up-and-coming Avenal Buccaneers next week.
Two weeks ago, I conducted a postgame interview with Dos Palos’s Head Coach Rob Calvert, Sophomore Running Back Andre Flores and Freshman defensive player Justin Hurd.
Postgame interview with Dos Palos Head Coach Rob Calvert featuring Freshman Defensive Player Justin Hurd. (KR = Myself, CRC = Coach Rob Calvert, and JH = Justin Hurd)
KR: Last season you and your team made the nearly 3-hour drive to Santa Maria and lost in a close game. What was different this season hosting Pioneer Valley?
CRC: Well, we didn’t have that 3-hour bus drive and we really used our run game pretty well with the help of our offensive line give credit to them getting better each week and also having a stud player like Andre Flores. We just came out and executed and the rest took care of themselves.
KR: What was the halftime message to the team?
CRC: We just wanted to go out and have fun in the 2nd half continuing to run the ball and play defense well. We’re young on the defensive side of the ball with six sophomores and a freshman defensive end Justin Hurd who has been playing lights out since coming up this year, he had a couple of sacks tonight and we just keep getting better every week.
KR: What’s the game plan with the additional week to prep for Chowchilla?
CRC: Chowchilla has always been a physical team getting guys in the box on both sides of the ball and we know it’s going to be a physical game and work on getting healthy with the two weeks we must get ready for them.
KR: What was your reaction when you found out you were going to be playing on varsity as a freshman?
JH: Well at first, I was really scared but after my first game after kickoff all the nerves went away. and I was scared that I would get blown out and thankfully it didn’t happen for me.
KR: What has it been like these past couple of weeks under Coach Calvert?
JH: It’s been good, A lot faster, a lot more difficult and more stress. but at the same time it’s fun getting to play under the lights and I’d say it’s better 100% and if anyone has a chance to do it I would recommend trying it.
KR: How will you and the rest of your teammates get ready for Chowchilla?
JH: Just hard work, play physically tough and for everyone to do their jobs and we’ll win.

Postgame interview with Dos Palos Sophomore Running Back Andre Flores (KR = Myself, AF = Andre Flores)
KR: What was the mindset of the team after last year’s loss to them and not have a repeat of that in front of the home crowd?
AF: It was hard especially watching it from the stands and it was a tough loss for them and this season we wanted to start off a lot hotter than last season and knowing we we’re back home with our fans behind us and we knew it was going to be tough and we thought it would and we came out even tougher and played our game and came out with the win.
KR: How was the halftime message received with the significant lead you had?
AF: We adjusted offensively and defensively and went in at half and our coaches told us we had a great 1st half but that we had one more to play. We went out here and played a very hard, fast game and did not let Pioneer Valley back in the game and we came out with the win.
KR: How are you feeling with your amazing performances so far?
AF: I’m feeling great and tell myself before every game to run hard every play as if it’s my last, I don’t really like to pay attention to stats and make sure the team wins at the end of the day?
WSL Athletics Standings through Week 5

  1. Coalinga Horned Toads (4-0)
  2. Avenal Buccaneers (4-1)
  3. Dos Palos Broncos (3-1)
  4. Tranquillity Tigers (2-2)
  5. Firebaugh Eagles (2-3)
  6. Mendota Aztecs (1-3)
    Week 6 Games
    Chowchilla vs. Dos Palos Broncos (WSL Athletics Game of the Week)
    Minarets vs. Tranquillity Tigers
    Coalinga Horned Toads vs. Washington Union
    Mendota Aztecs vs. Immanuel
    Avenal/Firebaugh Bye Week
    WSL Athletics vs. The Pagmeter Predictions Battle Standings after Week 5
    T-1st WSL Athletics/The Pagmeter (18-8)
    As Always Good Luck to All Teams! And GO FRESNO STATE! BEAT KENT STATE! #WhenWillFresnoGetRanked?
    Kevin Arias-Romero, Editor-in-Chief, WSL Athletics and WSL Contributor, The Pagmeter

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