Los Banos High's 'Alley Walk' gets Tigers mentally prepared for games

sjansen@mercedsunstar.comSeptember 2, 2013 

— As soon as the Los Banos football team steps into the alley everyone goes silent.

No talking. No laughing. The only sound is cleats hitting the ground.

In full gear, the Tigers make the 10-minute "Alley Walk" from the high school campus to Loftin Stadium before each home game.

"It started a long time ago," said Los Banos head coach Dustin Caropreso. "We did it when I played. It was something coach (Don) Toscano started back in the day. Other than a year or two that coach (Dennis) Stubbs was here, as long as I can remember we walked down that alley."

Along the way, the Tigers walk through a series of gates. As they pass each gate the intensity increases.

The closer the team gets to Loftin Stadium the louder they get as they begin chanting and yelling.

Senior linebacker Darren Baty gets pumped up just thinking about it.

"When we walk the alley we get our heads focused," Baty said. "We're preparing ourselves for the game. It's part of Tiger football.

"We gradually work up to game time. It starts quiet and we get louder and louder as we walk. When we get to the end of the alley it starts getting loud. We start getting pumped up."

Former Fresno State head coach Pat Hill made the "Alley Walk" a couple years ago while recruiting Bryce Howard.

"I remember Pat Hill telling coach Stubbs this is cool," Caropreso said. "He said this is what high school football is all about."

A lot of the Tigers' big-play threats that made that walk last year are gone. Players like 2,000-yard rusher James Sams, quarterback Chris Corpus and receivers Keith Turner and D.D. Moore.

"I think we're going to be greatly underestimated," Baty said. "All those players were great players. We're here now. We're going to do our best to do better than last year. I think we have the players to do it."

The Tigers do return seven starters on defense, including Baty and a three-year starting defensive lineman Josh Priest. Also returning is safety Chris Lonetree, defensive tackle John Tevis, linebacker Ryan Selfridge and defensive tackle Bailey Rodriguez.

The Tigers will be young on offense with two sophomores starting on the offensive line in Evan Duran and Anthony Machado, but they're high on sophomore running back David Walker Jr.

Junior Logan Pimentel takes over at quarterback for Corpus.

"If you ask me if we can replace a guy like James Sams, I'm going to say no," Caropreso said. "But this kid we have as a sophomore, we might be talking about how do we replace him in a few years. We have a lot of defensive guys coming back. We're young up front on offense.

"We've got a tough schedule. If we can get through our first four games against Escalon, Roosevelt, Manteca and Dos Palos, I definitely think we'll be ready to open league."

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