Loftin Stadium served as the backdrop for two special father-son moments on Friday night as the 2019 high school football season kicked off.
The home of the Los Banos Tigers is always hostile territory for the boys in blue from Dos Palos, especially with the annual Westside War going the way of the Tigers the past eight years.
But on Friday it was finally Dos Palos’ time to celebrate after snapping the eight-game losing streak with a thrilling 40-35 win.
Special night for Frank Lemos
Long before the Broncos fans stormed the field late at night, there was an emotional father-son interaction. It happened during the junior varsity game with Dos Palos shutting out Los Banos 14-0. As the players were celebrating their win, Broncos defensive coordinator Frank Lemos was absolutely giddy.
This is a man who has spent decades under the bright Friday night lights as a defensive coordinator for legendary Dos Palos coach Mike Sparks during some of the Broncos’ best years, seasons that ended with Central Section hampionships. When Sparks retired, Lemos served a stint leading the program.
So why was Lemos so happy on Friday night?
He finally beat his son Mike, who is the Los Banos JV head coach.
“I must have done something right because I’m 1-2 against him,” Frank Lemos said.
Mike Lemos took the loss in stride.
“That was fun,” he said. “That’s the first time in 30 years he’s had to change his defensive signals because I knew all of them.”
The main event was the 81st meeting in the Westside War.
The game was everything you’d expect from bitter rivals with emotions running high, tempers flaring, and an exciting game that was not decided until the final play.
“When you come to Los Banos you have to have your chin strap snapped in and your shoulder pads strapped up because there’s going to be some hard hitting,” said Broncos coach Rob Calvert, who has spent 15 years coaching in the Dos Palos program. “There’s going to be some personal fouls. There’s no love lost with us and Los Banos.”
Calvert & son get it done
It was an incredible night for Calvert because he got to share it with his son Trent who was playing in his first varsity game as a sophomore starting quarterback.
You want to talk about starting your high school career on a high note? Beating your rival on front of a huge crowd in your first game.
Trent Calvert was poised beyond his years, leading his team back from an early 13-0 deficit. He finished the night completing 12 of 17 passes for 233 yards. He connected on two long touchdown passes of 52 and 59 yards to his 6-foot-4 senior receiver Zane Merrell.
He played like, well, a coach’s kid.
“We started six sophomores tonight,” Rob Calvert said. “I’ve got to give my son, Trent, some love. Going into Los Banos in your first game and coming out with a win, he played great.”
Trent did everything he could to stay calm, doing his best to block out the large crowd.
“I had to stay relaxed,” he said. “I couldn’t let myself get too hyped up. I’m used to also playing middle linebacker, too. My job in this game was to only play quarterback. I told my team we’re going to get it done and we did that tonight.”
Dos Palos passing? You bet!
Who would have thought Dos Palos would win a Westside War in the way they did Friday night: airing it out.
The Broncos have a long tradition of playing smash-mouth, power football. For years they lined up in the Power-I and just overpowered teams with their running game. It wasn’t unheard of for the Broncos not to throw a pass in a game.
On Friday night the Broncos lined up almost exclusively in pistol look with the quarterback lining up 4 yards behind the center with three wide receivers. Merrell finished with four catches for 195 yards.
“When you win, everyone is going to love the offense,” Rob Calvert said. “Nobody is going to be asking, ‘Where’s the old offense?’”
And his son was at the controls.
“I don’t even know how to explain it,” Trent said. “It feels so good. We’ve been waiting eight years for this. Everyone wanted to bring the trophy back to town.”