The Chowchilla High football program had a lot to celebrate last season with a Valley Championship, a Southern California Regional Bowl win and a state bowl game appearance.
If that wasn’t enough, the Redskins had three players receive football scholarships to four-year schools.
The challenge for any team coming off of a successful season like that is to be able to turn the page and come back ready to do everything it takes to do it again.
Which means a lot of early mornings in the weight room, long practices and plenty of film-room sessions.
“It’s great to have success but it’s a different group each year,” said Chowchilla coach Alex Pittz. “We have a lot of returning players but each year’s team is different. We’re a lot like last year. We have kids that are tough and work hard. Their attitude and effort has been unbelievable. That makes it fun for me as a coach.”
The Redskins will have to get it done differently on offense.
Last year Pittz relied heavily on North Sequoia League MVP Anthony Stewart (1,701 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns) and Alex Gutierrez (931 yards and 13 touchdowns) for an offense that averaged close to 270 yards on the ground.
This year it’ll be a running back by committee approach with as many as six guys sharing the load. Players like Jayson Cantrell, Justin Cantrell, Carlos Iniguez, Ronnie Reyes, Damon Perry and Asa Shields will all be in the mix for carries out of the Redskins’ shotgun double-wing attack.
“You always worry about your guys being consistent,” Pittz said. “You want to get them enough reps that they can get into the rhythm of the game.”
Iniguez transfers back to Chowchilla from Le Grand High. Iniguez spent his freshman year at Chowchilla. He rushed for 1,824 and 17 touchdowns in the last two seasons at Le Grand, including 1,039 yards his sophomore season.
“Obviously, I would have loved to see him here the entire time,” Pittz said. “The biggest thing with him is he’s a great kid. He’s one of those character kids that makes your team better without stepping on the field. We’re happy to have him back.”
The Redskins should benefit from a strong offensive line that returns three starters in Dylan Rees, Matt Johnston and Gabe Sanchez. The team also has high expectations for senior left tackle Mo Dahabra.
“It’ll be difficult to top last year, but I think we have a chance,” Reyes said. “We have to play together as a team. I think we have a really good group. We like to play with each other.”
The Redskins’ defense should be strong again with Reyes and Perry at linebacker and Justin Cantrell at safety.
“I think we can have a great defense this year,” Perry said. “We lost some key guys at corner and safety, but we can still be good. We have Justin Cantrell at safety. I think our linebackers will be strong with Ronnie Reyes and myself. I think we’ll depend on our defense.”
One thing that was missing during the Redskins’ run last year was an NSL championship. Chowchilla enters this season as the favorite.
The Chowchilla High administration plans to reveal the school’s new mascot during homecoming ceremonies when the Chowchilla hosts Kerman on Oct. 7. The use of the term Redskins as a school mascot was banned by a bill signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown last year.
“In all honesty, I don’t think they’ve decided to change anything yet,” Pittz said. “I think they’ll take it down to the wire. I think they want to make a good decision. The feedback I’m getting is they would like to change it to something still related so we can keep the logo and things like that.
“Since we don’t have to officially change the mascot until January, this is truly the final season of Redskins. This community is extra special and we saw that last year in the way they got behind the team. Regardless of what we end up calling ourselves we know we will have their support and we’re going to try to make them proud.”
|Chowchilla News Day
Please follow us.