A look at how each team in the Central California Conference League shapes up this season:
- Coach: Bob Valladao
- Career record: 14-18
- Record at school: 14-18
- 2009: Atwater (8-4, 4-2) rebounded from a loss to rival Buhach Colony to win five of its next six — beating Merced — and earn its first playoff berth since 2002. The Falcons made the D2 quarterfinals.
- Last league title: 1998
- Last playoff berth: 2009
- Top returners:OL/DL Dustin Bender (6-2, 255), TE/LB Andrew Morgan (6-3, 210), RB/LB Armando Garcia (5-10, 215), QB Michael Gutierrez (6-1, 170), WR/DB Chris Osborn (5-11, 170), WR/DB Ben Finister (5-10, 165).
- Top newcomers: OL/DL Tracer Coleman (6-0,220, Jr.), WR/DB Marvin Gann (5-10, 160, Jr.), TE/LB Justice Hayes (5-11, 175, Jr.).
- Outlook: No school took a bigger graduation hit than Atwater: QB Nathan Sanchez (2,250 yards, 24 TDs) and stud lineman Chris Hogue. Garcia (307 yards, 3 TDs) plays a larger role, as Falcons also lost top four rushers from a year ago. The key is how quickly Gutierrez adapts behind center.
- Worth noting: With 50 kids in camp, competition is plentiful for starting spots. Plenty of 200-plus pounders should make for good size on lines.
- Key game: Versus Los Banos in Week 3. After two weeks of getting used to one another, new-look Falcons must prove they're ready for CCC games with a good showing here.
Buhach Colony Thunder
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- Coach: Kevin Swartwood
- Career record: 13-27
- Record at school: 13-27
- Last year: BC (6-5, 3-3) averaged 45 points a game and beat rival Atwater, to earn its first-ever playoff berth.
- Last league title: None
- Last playoff berth: 2009
- Top returners: RB/DB Dallon Muse (6-0, 190), RB/DB Jarrell Davis (5-6, 160), WR/DB Matt Small (6-3, 190), QB Ben Watkins (6-1, 185), OL Matt Cochran (6-4, 340), DL J.J. Corn (6-2, 235), ILB Eric Ramos (5-9, 190), SS Jordy Kaiser (6-1, 180), OLB D.J. Dawson (6-0, 185).
- Top newcomers: DL Aziz Shittu (6-3, 275, Jr.), OL Andrew Mark (6-5, 260, Jr.)
- Outlook: RB Corey Chapman (1,546 yards, 19 TDs) will miss at least the first half of the season for disciplinary issues, so Muse (1,152, 14) and Davis (977, 10) will get extra carries. The tandem also had 22 catches for 357 yards. ... With Watkins (700 yards passing, 7 TDs) back at QB, this could be th district's premier offense — the Thunder averaged 45 points in six CCC games last year, but they also surrendered 37 a night.
- Worth noting: With Shittu and Mark coming up from the JV team, BC should be able to exploit its tandem of speed in the backfield and size on the line. ... Dawson could become one of the region's top LBs after averaging seven tackles and getting six sacks in 2009 .
- Key game: At Merced in Week 9. These athletic teams use contrasting styles — BC is finesse, Merced is rugged — and this showdown could decide who wins the CCC title.
Golden Valley Cougars
- Coach: Jake Messina
- Career record: 0-0
- Record at school: 0-0
- Last year: GV (3-7, 1-5) was hurt by turnovers and poor tackling. That led to Jon Betschart's firing and the hiring of a defensive-minded coach.
- Last league title: 2005
- Last playoff berth: 2006
- Top returners: DT/OT Alvaro Naranjo (6-4, 225), RB/S Tyler Arnsberg (5-11, 185, Jr.), WR/CB Trey Askew (5-11, 175), QB Jerry Martinez (5-11, 165), DB Alan Suarez (5-9, 180), LB Chris Hoyos (5-8, 180).
- Top newcomers: DB Ander Bodedeker (6-1, 185, So.), DT Michael Romo (6-3, 275, Jr.), DE/TE Chris Winzer (6-3, 210, Jr.), RB Ernie Teal (5-10, 200, Jr.).
- Outlook: Arnsberg (1,854 combined yards, 21 TDs), a talented runner, shifts from QB to RB to exploit skills. It also lets him play free safety, giving GV solid secondary with Askew — the team's most explosive player. ... GV was its worst enemy in recent years, unable to hold the ball or stop opponents (giving up at least 42 in each of its seven losses a year ago). Messina formerly ran the defense at Merced, so he sees a need for ball possession and tackling. ... Naranjo is a muscular player who will be a linchpin on the O-line.
- Worth noting: Arnsberg averaged 7 yards a carry, with four games of 150-plus yards.
- Key game: Versus Johansen in Week 4. GV will have had two games to get accustomed to its new offense and needs to be clicking by this time.
- Coach: Rob Scheidt
- Career record: 95-59
- Record at school: 95-59
- Last year: Merced (4-6, 4-2) was outscored 156-38 the first four weeks while playing one of the state's top schedules. A 49-7 loss to Pitman in Week 10 kept Bears from the playoffs.
- Last league title: 2008
- Last playoff berth: 2008
- Top returners: QB Rudy Monteon (6-3,1 90), RB Eric DeAnda (5-9, 190), WR Juan Valencia (5-8, 160), WR Nick Zamora (6-1, 167), DB Jaquari People (5-8, 152), DE Malcolm Mann (6-0, 228), DE Jesse Jimenez (6-0, 217), OL Gary Womack (6-2, 285).
- Outlook: DeAnda was the big surprise last year, collecting a school-record 303 yards vs. Buhach. He gained 995 of his 1,036 yards in six games, to go with 14 TDs. ... Monteon (42 percent, 5 TDs, 9 INTs) has to be more efficient or defenses will stack the line and stop DeAnda. ... Bears need to get the ball to People on a regular basis, because there's not a CCC player with more open-field skills. .... If you could pick a lineman to build your O-line around, Womack is the guy.
- Worth noting: No one puts together a schedule quite like Scheidt: Grant, Paradise, Clovis West and Edison of Fresno. Ya kiddin' me? If Bears split those, they'll be challenging for the section D1 crown.
- Key game: Versus Paradise in Week 1. Sure, it's the opener but Bears need a quick win or they'll start talking about last year's 0-4 start, and Monteon needs to show he's prepared to hold down the QB role.
- Coach: Brandon Harris
- Career record: 35-14
- Record at school: 27-12
- Last year: Pitman (6-5, 4-2) was explosive, scoring 76 in one game and 77 in another, before losing to Monterey Trail in a D2 playoff opener.
- Last league title: 2005
- Last playoff berth: 2009
- Top returners: RB/DB Dominick Walker (5-11, 200), RB/LB Jamie Lemus (5-10, 200), OL Nathan Ortiz (6-1, 310, Jr.), OL/DL Tyson Beaune (6-1, 225), OL/DL Tre Vargas (6-1, 240), OL/DL Steven Nava (5-10, 2105), RB/LB Alex Rodriguez (6-3, 185), WR/DB David Gianasin (6-3, 180), QB AJ Derr (5-11, 220, Jr.), WR/DB Shea Patterson (5-10, 175, Jr.).
- Top newcomers: RB/DB Andy Mendes (5-8, 175, So.), LB/TE Dakota Selfridge (6-1, 200, Jr.), OL/LB Kenn Accasio (6-0, 210, Jr.), OL Mino Moua (5-10, 220, Jr.), LB/RB Jake Thompson (5-9, 225, Jr.).
- Outlook: Walker is one of the most explosive players in the district: He had 251 yards and 4 TDs on nine carries one week and scored TDs on a run, catch and kickoff return a few weeks later. He was in and out of the lineup with injuries, though, so the Pride needs him at 100 percent. ... Derr has a good arm and good feet, giving Pitman an additional weapon. ... Veteran O-line with Ortiz, Beaune, Vargas and Co. should be a force with Walker running.
- Worth noting: Pitman has a reputation for being banged up late in the year, which is why Harris had them spending extra time lifting weights. ... Fast turf at Debely Stadium will benefit Pride's offense.
- Key game: Versus Modesto in Week 1. Debut for artificial turf at Debely, and Pride will be challenged by a physical line on both sides of the ball.
- Coach: James Peterson
- Career record: 0-10
- Record at school: 0-10
- Last year: Turlock (0-10, 0-6) suffered through only its second winless season since 1920. The closest game was decided by 16 points, and they gave up at least 40 in eight games.
- Last league title: 2003
- Last playoff berth: 2003
- Top returners: QB Kevin Kramer (6-1, 210), RB/DB Ricky Fuentes (5-10, 190), WR Everado Olide (6-2, 195), TE/OLB Connor Pearson (6-2, 220), G/DE Brett Garris (5-10, 230), C Michael Nissan (5-11, 250).
- Top newcomers: WR/DB Brad Badali (6-2, 190, Jr.), DE/OT Justin Clardy (6-5, 245, Jr.), OT Tony Souza (6-0, 220, Jr.), DE Johnny Padilla (5-11, 230, Jr.), RB Bryce Simmons (6-0, 190, Jr.), RB/MLB Eric Parsons (5-11, 175, Jr.), RB/DB Brandon Esquivel (5-10, 165, So.).
- Outlook: If someone mentions 0-10 again, Peterson will scream! 'Dogs need to rebuild their 90 years of tradition by playing defense, taking pressure off their pistol offense. ... Kramer's a third-year starter and the district's most athletic QB, and having Fuentes returning from last year's injury will make him more effective. ... Pearson and Garris will anchor an improved "D," and there is plenty of help arriving from a 10-0 JV team. ... A focused off-season in the weight room will keep 'Dogs from getting pushed around.
- Worth noting: Debely Stadium received a necessary overhaul. Artificial turf and an all-weather track replace the pasture-quality grass and dusty dirt track that marred a once-wonderful stadium. The fast surface should benefit Kramer and the spread offense.
- Key game: At Buhach Colony in Week 7. The Thunder could have the best backfield in the district and will provide the ultimate test for the Bulldogs' rebuilt defense.