CHOWCHILLA — Alex Pittz wasn't ready for this season to end. The Chowchilla head football coach wanted more time with this group.
"This was one of most fun teams I've ever been a part of," Pittz said. "I have two championship rings from 2004 and 2008, and this team ranks right up there with those teams. The kids had a great, positive attitude.
"After the Wasco games, I told the kids when it gets to this point of the season, I'm usually ready for a break. That wasn't the case this year. It seemed like the year flew by."
After leading the Redskins to a 9-4 record, a co-North Sequoia League championship and the semifinals of the Central Section Division 4 playoffs, Pittz is the Sun-Star Football Coach of the Year.
Pittz won with a team that included four sophomores and a freshman in the starting lineup.
The Redskins rebounded from an 0-2 start to win seven straight games.
"Basically, we feel we've gotten to the point in our program where we should be competitive every year no matter what. After that rough start, we shifted away from our long-term goals for the season. Instead, we worried more about that week. What did we have to work on to beat the opponent that week.
"With our youth, that was the approach we needed to take. We had to get back to the basics. When we did that, the outcomes slowly got better."
It helped that Pittz could lean on one of the more dynamic players in the area in quarterback DeVaughn Gaines, who rushed for 1,266 yards and 20 touchdowns.
The Redskins also overcame a small roster that topped out at 28 players when everybody suited up.
"Despite our small roster, we had most of our key guys all year long," Pittz said. "I guess our biggest hurdle was we started two sophomores and only one senior on our offensive line. That's such a tough position, especially when you're facing teams that have seniors, who are just physically stronger than our guys.
"We really had to improve pad level and improve their get-offs. When we went through that seven-game winning streak, it was because those kids got better."