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‘They’ve seen their work pay off.’ Livingston one of three area teams still unbeaten.

Livingston football is 3-0 for the first time since 2010

Livingston senior Cooper Winton talks about the Wolves 3-0 start this season. Livingston puts its undefeated record on the line Friday night when it travels to Golden Valley.
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Livingston senior Cooper Winton talks about the Wolves 3-0 start this season. Livingston puts its undefeated record on the line Friday night when it travels to Golden Valley.

Spending time in the weight room isn’t easy. Most people with a gym membership can tell you that.

There are days you have to drag yourself there. It’s easy to find an excuse not to go. There’s a show on TV, a game to watch or a video game you need to play.

However, when you see the results, it’s a little easier to get off the couch.

For the Livingston High football team those results have come in the form of a 3-0 start this season. It’s the first time the Wolves have started 3-0 since 2010.

“As we’ve gone 1-0, 2-0 and 3-0, you just want to get in the weight room more,” said senior receiver Cooper Winton. “We want to get bigger, faster, stronger. We want to get better.”

The Wolves will attempt to tackle their toughest test so far this season with Friday’s matchup against Golden Valley (1-2).

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Veterans Stadium.

“It’s the last week before league,” said Livingston coach Alex Gonzalez. “Injuries are happening so you need guys to step up. This is a really big for us and we know that.”

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Livingston sophomore Rocklin Baptista looks to throw a pass as Wolves coach Alex Gonzalez (left) looks on during a practice on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. Shawn Jansen Sjansen@mercedsun-star.com

Livingston joins Buhach Colony (3-0) and Hilmar (3-0) as the only three Merced County teams still undefeated this year.

Wins have been tough to come by in recent years for Livingston. The Wolves are coming off a 2-8 season in 2018 and have compiled a 7-33 record the last four years.

So you can understand why there is excitement building this season.

“First off, it’s more fun,” Winton said. “You can tell people at school know we’re 3-0, the town is getting into it. The environment around here is more positive.”

What is different about this group?

Commitment, said Gonzalez.

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Livingston senior receiver Cooper Winton hauls in a pass and heads up field during practice at Livingston High on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. Shawn Jansen Sjansen@mercedsun-star.com

“We have a little more depth and a few more athletes, but everybody is willing to put in the work,” he said. “It feels great. It feels like the culture at school is better. The kids love being part of the process. They’ve seen their work pay off.”

The Wolves are averaging over 43 points per game in their three wins. Sophomore quarterback Rocklin Baptista has completed 23 of 35 passes for 463 yards and seven touchdowns.

Winton leads the receivers with six catches for 182 yards and two scores and Celso Sanchez leads the backfield with 17 carries for 220 yards and three touchdowns.

Livingston’s best win to date was a 34-21 win over Le Grand. The other two victories have come against winless Tranquility and Delhi.

The schedule only gets tougher from here with a final non-conference game against Golden Valley and then a run through the Trans-Valley League, which many consider the toughest small-school league in the state with teams like Hilmar (3-0), Ripon (3-0) and Escalon (3-0).

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Livingston sophomore Rocklin Baptista fires a pass as assistant coach Brian Alvarez looks on during a practice on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. Shawn Jansen Sjansen@mercedsun-star.com

The Wolves feel they’re up to the challenge of playing a Central California Conference school like Golden Valley.

“We have to forget that they’re a bigger school with 300 or 400 more students,” Winton said. “They’re Golden Valley, it’s Merced and we can’t let that get in our heads. We have to go out there and fight. We have to show them what Livingston is about.”

Friday’s Schedule

Pacheco at Atwater

Modesto Christian at El Capitan

Merced at Madera

Buhach Colony at Weston Ranch

Livingston at Golden Valley

Hilmar at Sonora

Linden at Le Grand

Morro Bay at Gustine

Mariposa at Yosemite

Woodland Christian at Stone Ridge Christian

Central Valley Christian at Chowchilla

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