High School Football

Atwater promotes Seneca Ybarra to head football coach

Seneca Ybarra named Atwater High football coach

Seneca Ybarra talks about becoming the new Atwater High football coach. (By Shawn Jansen/sjansen@mercedsunstar.com).
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Seneca Ybarra talks about becoming the new Atwater High football coach. (By Shawn Jansen/sjansen@mercedsunstar.com).

Seneca Ybarra hopes his energy, enthusiasm and experience will turn around Atwater High School’s football program.

Ybarra, 39, was named the Falcons’ head coach Wednesday. He was an Atwater assistant coach for seven years, including the last three as defensive coordinator.

“I’m very excited to have the opportunity,” Ybarra said. “I’m looking forward to taking on the challenge. We had a rough season last year and we want to start working on getting better right away.”

Ybarra replaces Nelson Medeiros, who resigned after just one season in which Atwater finished 0-10. Medeiros took over for Bob Valladao, who moved into an administrative position at the school after coaching for nine seasons.

We have to get stronger, right off the bat. Anybody who watched our games last year, it was tough to call a game or call a play, because our kids physically had a tough time doing what we asked them to do. No. 1, we need to put time in the weight room to become competitive in the tough league (Central California Conference) that we are in.

Seneca Ybarra, new Atwater football coach

Medeiros said he needed a break from football.

“There weren’t a whole lot of reasons,” said Medeiros, who began coaching in 2001. “I’ve been coaching football since I graduated high school. It’s time I concentrate on other aspects of my life.”

Medeiros said he wants a master’s degree and wouldn’t have time for that pursuit as the football and wrestling coach at Atwater. He will remain the wrestling coach.

“It’s something I thought a lot about. It wasn’t a decision made in haste,” Medeiros said. “At this time, it’s the best decision for me.”

Before working at Atwater, Ybarra was an assistant coach at Merced and Golden Valley.

“I’ve had some great mentors,” Ybarra said. “I’ve been able to learn from a lot of great head coaches. I played basketball for and coached with Keith Hunter at Golden Valley. I’ve coached with Kevin Swartwood (at Golden Valley). Dennis Stubbs was my high school football coach (at Golden Valley). I’ve coached with Rob Scheidt at Merced. I’ve seen how they run programs and run them the right way.”

I’ve been a three-sport coach for the last 15 years. I’ve had some great success in track and field and I enjoy coaching basketball and hearing the squeaking of the shoes. But I’m ready to put my full time into the football program.

Seneca Ybarra, new Atwater football coach

Ybarra said Atwater likely will stick with wing-T concepts on offense. He said he probably will take over the offensive play-calling duties and assistant coach Nick Ray likely will be promoted to defensive coordinator.

Ybarra said the first step in rebuilding is for the players to spend more time in the weight room.

“We have to get stronger, right off the bat,” Ybarra said. “Anybody who watched our games last year, it was tough to call a game or call a play, because our kids physically had a tough time doing what we asked them to do. No. 1, we need to put time in the weight room to become competitive in the tough league (Central California Conference) that we are in.”

Ybarra also coaches Atwater’s track and field and junior varsity boys basketball teams. He said he’ll scale back his other coaching duties to focus on football.

“Absolutely,” he said. “I’ve been a three-sport coach for the last 15 years. I’ve had some great success in track and field and I enjoy coaching basketball and hearing the squeaking of the shoes. But I’m ready to put my full time into the football program.”

Shawn Jansen: 209-385-2462, @MSSsports

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