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Stubbs, Los Banos starting over

LOS BANOS -- Casey Cotta didn't know much about his new coach.

The Los Banos running back knew that Dennis Stubbs had been Golden Valley's coach for a long time. He also knew Stubbs' GV teams had beaten Los Banos pretty easily.

Still, it wasn't until Stubbs arrived at Los Banos that Cotta knew things were going to get better.

"It's been a lot different," Cotta said. "It's just a better program. It's fast-paced and it's organized. That's a big thing."

From the minute Stubbs took over at Los Banos, he's asked his players to make a commitment.

Cotta and company were asked to work out during the off season -- twice a week for two hours after school.

Through the football booster program, the players were also given a local gym membership and asked to lift weights and work out on their own.

"In the past, nobody watched us work out," Cotta said. "We could basically do whatever we wanted. Guys acted like they were lifting weights.

"Now we had coaches watching us and we had certain lifts that we had to do."

Stubbs plans to turn around a Los Banos program -- which has gone 1-15 in the Central California Conference since joining the league in 2004 -- by going back to the basics and teaching fundamentals.

"We taught a lot of technique and fundamentals during the summer," Stubbs said.

"Personally, I know I'm going to get judged this season, but I'm trying to build a program.

"We want to make it so when we go somewhere, people respect us. Our goal is to reach our full potential as a team -- whatever that entails."

One of the first things you'll notice about this Los Banos team is its size.

Stubbs will have the luxury of huge offensive and defensive lines, including 280-pound tackle Damen Bragner and 280-pound Doug Fuentes at defensive tackle.

The big line should open up holes for Cotta, who will use his 5-foot-10, 220-pound frame to punish defenders.

"We don't know what our team's identity is going to be yet," Stubbs said. "We're going to feed Cotta the ball a bunch.

"We think we'll be able run the ball and move the chains. But again, we don't know. I think we could have a solid defense, which may give our offense more opportunities and we can open it up a little."

Going from 0-6 in the CCC to a conference title may be too much to ask. Playing meaningful fourth quarters . . . well, that would be a good start.

"A championship is probably not going to happen," Cotta said. "We'll definitely do better than last year. We're working way harder."

As badly as Los Banos has fared in the CCC, there are some Los Banos fans that only care about one thing -- beating Dos Palos.

Los Banos has lost the Westside War for 10 straight years. What would it mean to the players and the town to finally beat Dos Palos?

Well, just ask them.

"It's the biggest game of the year," defensive back Jake Barcellos said. "I don't even know what it would feel like to win that game. It would be like being born again."

That should sum it up.