With the start of the 2019 high school football season a week away, area teams will hit the field for scrimmages on Friday and Saturday.
These scrimmages serve as the final dress rehearsal before the bleachers fill and the games count on Aug. 23.
“We’re looking for our guys to compete,” said Los Banos coach Dustin Caropreso. “It’s going to be nice to finally hit somebody other than ourselves. I think everyone at this point is ready to get in a game. The kids are tired of hitting each other.”
Los Banos will travel to Veterans Stadium on Friday night to scrimmage Golden Valley at 7 p.m. in a matchup of two playoff teams from last season.
The Cougars return with the bulk of their starters from last year’s team that finished 6-5. Golden Valley rebounded from an 0-10 season to making the playoffs in Rick Martinez’s first season as head coach.
“Looking at it with the number of returners we have coming back to our approach with the weights in spring and summer, I feel we picked up where we left off from last fall,” Martinez said. “We’re excited about that. We have the right group of kids who are responding to what we’re trying to do as coaches.”
Many teams opt to go the two-team scrimmage format like Golden Valley and Los Banos. Others do a round robin format with multiple teams that allow offenses and defenses to see a variation of looks in a short time.
Friday night’s scrimmages include Merced at Clovis, Atwater at Tokay, Clovis East at Pacheco, Chowchilla at Madera and Pitman at Hilmar.
There’s also eight teams gathering in Orestimba for a round-robin scrimmage, including El Capitan, Gustine, Livingston and Dos Palos.
On Saturday, Buhach Colony will travel to Central Catholic to scrimmage against the Raiders, Turlock and Calaveras. Stone Ridge Christian will make the trip to Big Valley Christian to scrimmage the rest of the teams in the Central California Athletic Alliance teams. Delhi is traveling to Foothill High to scrimmage Hiram Johnson, Vacaville Christian, Foothill and Mesa Verde.
“When I was coaching Le Grand we used to do the round robin and that was good,” Martinez said. “As you do this longer, you get to know coaches who do it the right way. Guys who aren’t trying to win the scrimmage, but try to use it as a teaching tool. That’s why I like to match up with coaches like Dustin and Frank Marques (Hilmar).
“Dustin said he has a few quarterbacks he wants to see so we’ll give them some extra reps.”
Both Caropreso and Martinez both served as assistant coaches for former Golden Valley, Los Banos and Le Grand coach Dennis Stubbs.
“They’re going to throw a lot of stuff at you,” Caropreso said. “It’s going to allow us to get ready for Dos Palos next week and some of the spread stuff we’ll see after the first week. We like the guys at Golden Valley. We all come from the same coaching tree.”
One of the biggest goals for every team is to make it through the scrimmages healthy for the season openers next week. Los Banos will hold out senior running back Justin Incaprera against Golden Valley. The Tigers have some other key players banged up in linebacker/running back Adrian Atangan and receiver Landon Ramos.
“I’d be lying if I said we were healthy,” Caropreso said. “It’s just camp stuff. We’ve got some guys who are banged up. I’m sure most teams do.”