There's not a school in the Stanislaus District capable of challenging Central Catholic High when it comes to tradition, or its 15 Sac-Joaquin Section football championships.
More impressive is its 15-2 record in the finals. The first title came in 1972, just the second year the section held playoffs, and the Raiders won the section as recently as 2007.
So why such distress over a two-year span without a title? Because Central and its fans were accustomed to lifting a pennant after every season.
The Raiders had won seven in a row, and 10 of 11, before they were stunned by Hilmar in the 2008 final. A year ago, Central didn't even make the final, losing to Modesto Christian in a lopsided semifinal.
The recipe is in place, however, for Central to reclaim its position among the elite.
The trademark power running attack is back, accompanied by the deep threat at receiver. The defense is physical, especially at linebacker.
Junior bangers Craig Jones and Darien Edwards are the poster kids for this retro-looking squad, and the aggressive style should remind folks of those Louis Bland-era teams.
The Raiders have to win the Western Athletic Conference before talk turns to another title, though, and it won't be as easy a task as it once was.
Patterson coach Rob Cozart says this is the most physical team he's had since arriving eight years ago, but much of the talk is focused on the conference newcomer -- Los Banos.
The Tigers reached the Division 1 semifinal last year and might have the district's top running tandem in Darron Brown and Gregg Williams.
Los Banos is in the WAC because its enrollment is falling with the opening of Pacheco High, the city's second high school.