It's the third year for head coach Nick Marchy, who fields a team with several of the starters from last season, when the Tigers went 7-4 overall and finished in third place in the Western Athletic Conference with a 4-2 league record.
"Since the end of last season, we've been in the weight room, keeping the players' strength, speed and agility up," Marchy said. "We also make sure that the kids are keeping their mindset straight. We train the kids to do their schoolwork, and be good role models at school and at home, so when it comes to the start of the season its an easier transition."
As far as the Patterson High football program is concerned, the 2013 season begins in earnest Saturday, Aug. 24. That’s when the Tigers are scheduled to participate in a controlled, situational scrimmage in front of fans at Golden Valley High of Merced.
"We tell the kids that it's just like a game. Everybody is going to get a chance to play and prove what they can do," Marchy said. "We want to see which kids are going to compete with the other schools. We want to see who steps up and who buckles under pressure."
Patterson’s athletes went through a demanding winter and summer schedule under the direction of Marchy and his coaching staff.
The only way to play the game is full bore and intense on every sequence. That holds true from meeting to meeting, practice to practice and drill to drill, Marchy said.
"Right now, we're getting the pads on and seeing which kids can fly around the field and make plays," Marchy said. "We're looking for the kids who have progressed from last year to this year, who are going to help us out throughout the season."
The 2013 Tigers head into this fall lean, strong and arguably faster than last year’s team.
And there’s enough experience to give the team confidence and leadership.
Marchy knows what his team’s offensive players can accomplish. They include senior wide receivers Avion Warmsley, Daniel Kelepi, Justin Hooker, Brandon Williams, Michael Campbell, and junior running backs Hunter Powers and Antonio Vasquez.
"This is a team that is capable of a lot of things. I think we can take WAC if we put our minds to it. We have the talent," Kelepi said. "We represent the community of Patterson. The fans come out every game for us, so we want to give a good product back to them."
On Nov. 9, the Tigers hosted Benicia High, the Solano County Athletic Conference's runner-up, in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs.
After trailing 21-0, the home team scored 24 unanswered points to take the lead. But the rally was erased when the Benicia Panthers returned a fourth-quarter kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown, downing Patterson 27-24 before a boisterous crowd at Patterson Community Stadium.
What followed was uncertainty over whether the Tigers could remain successful.
After all, they were losing three all-WAC honorees from the Class of 2012: lineman Robert McDonnell, lineman Isaiah Tuefele and linebacker Drake Vatuvei.
Also graduating were two All-WAC second-teamers: quarterback Joey Lopes and linebacker Miles Jacks.
But a new campaign brings fresh faces, as the next batch of Patterson contributors replace the ones from a season ago.
On the offensive side of the ball, junior Damien Paulo and senior John Perez will vie for the snaps at quarterback. Both are versatile athletes, and each possesses the mobility to elude pass-rushers and a strong throwing arm.
Look for senior tight end Jordan Levu to run routes over the middle, and become one of the favored targets, according to Marchy.
Protecting the quarterback will be a core of mostly seasoned linemen. Seniors Jesse Nuia and Oscar Calderon, along with junior Andrew Arroyo, are the returners, while Nick Russell (senior), Christian Naverette (junior) and Miguel Miranda (sophomore) will help guard the QB.
Marchy added that, along with the experience in skilled offense, the defense also brings returning players.
At linebacker, Marchy hopes competitors Gomez, Powers, Ruben Rosas (junior), Victor Chavez (junior) and Lawyer McBride (junior) will be fierce tacklers whose quickness may frustrate opponents.
Warmsley, Williams, Campbell, Daniel Cota (junior) and Damarrio Hammonds (junior), meanwhile, will see action on both sides of the ball, helping bolster the team’s secondary and receiving corps.
Gomez said that the team’s confidence shows on the practice field.
"We are going to rely on our speed," Gomez said. "We don't worry about what anybody says about our size. We will not accept losing. We will overcome any adversity that comes our way. We have one goal in mind and that is to win WAC."
Patterson scrimmages at Golden Valley Saturday, Aug. 24, and then opens its season on the road at Johansen High of Modesto on Friday, Aug. 30. The home opener will be Sept. 13 against Grace Davis High of Modesto, and league play begins at home against Central Valley High of Ceres on Oct. 4, when the Tiger celebrate homecoming.
Contact Marc Aceves at 892-6187, ext. 28, or firstname.lastname@example.org