That's good news for the Tigers, who said following Saturday's final scrimmage at Golden Valley High of Merced that they were ready for a fresh angle.
"We've got some momentum to build on after the Golden Valley scrimmage," senior tight end-linebacker Frankie Sanchez said. "We'll start focusing on (Grace Davis High of Modesto), and we'll still be focusing on our fundamentals."
Added senior running back-lineman Pio Vatuvei, "We're looking forward to getting to work on our first game."
With the season opener against Davis just a day away, first-year coach Nick Marchy noted that the mock-game approach had benefited a team that hopes to remain atop the Western Athletic Conference.
Last season, Patterson claimed its first undisputed league title in 42 years with a 17-16 victory over Central Catholic High of Modesto, capping a perfect 5-0 league campaign and earning a No. 2 seeding in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs.
"We're just looking to start on the right foot. We want to make sure that we don't start with any setbacks," Marchy said. "It's a new year, a new season. We want to keep moving forward."
Patterson's surge to prominence in 2010, during coach Rob Cozart's eighth and final season, ended in a hard-fought 28-9 loss to Del Oro High of Loomis in the D-III semifinals at Patterson Community Stadium and was followed by uncertainty over whether the Tigers could remain successful.
After all, they were losing the WAC's offensive and defensive MVPs — quarterback Cody Weinzheimer and linebacker Adrian Laurel, respectively — to graduation, among others.
Cozart, meanwhile, accepted a position in February as associate head coach and defensive coordinator for the Gavilan College Rams.
Still, Marchy has several returning starters on offense and on defense, including all-WAC selections Rodney Lawson (wide receiver), Kimo Tupuola (lineman), Sanchez and Vatuvei.
"We look around and know that we've got what it takes to be right there again," Vatuvei said. "People might question if we can do it, but we're confident it can happen."
Three Tiger seniors who garnered all-WAC second-team honors — running back George Garcia, wide receiver Robert Marroquin and lineman Andrew Tupuola — also return to the huddle.
"It's not like we're starting all the way back to where we came in," Marchy said.
In place of Weinzheimer, a deep-ball specialist now at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, the Tigers plan to start Bryan Todd, a crafty, fleet-of-foot senior. Todd figures to be more of a mobile dual threat, Marchy said.
"(Todd's) shown a lot of pride and leadership in taking that position on," Marchy said. "Leadership-wise, he pushes the players to play harder — he pushes himself.”
"It's exciting when you look around and see who we have running and catching the ball," Todd said. "I know if I do my job right, we'll be hard to stop."
Marchy said he thinks Patterson is as deep as it’s ever been across the board, but nowhere is that more evident than at the offensive and defensive lines, where the Tigers return three members of last year's exceptional upfront protection.
"The return of (Andrew Tupuola, Kimo Tupuola and Kurtis Hance) brings a lot of experience back to the program," Marchy said.
The Tigers will have almost three months of summer workouts, passing nights and practices under its belt when they begin the season Friday, Aug. 26, against visiting Davis.
Last year, Patterson took it to the Spartans in the season opener, dismantling Davis 35-0. But this is a new year, and both teams are sporting different looks.
"We've got a core group of players that is determined to succeed," Marchy said.
"Our No. 1 goal is a section title. I believe we have the firepower on offense and on defense to get there."
At a glance
WHAT: Patterson High vs. Grace Davis of Modesto
WHEN: 5 p.m. (JV) and 7 p.m. (varsity) Friday, Aug. 26.
WHERE: Patterson Community Stadium, Ward and Salado avenues