Clovis News: Sports

Ever-changing NYL hopes to make mark

It's been a generation, 1972 to be exact, since a North Yosemite League football team won a Central Section championship.

That year, McLane High, willed by the greatest quartet of athletic teammates in school history -- Rod Kraft, Larry Mucker, Steve Angelich and Sam Donabedian -- defeated Foothill 19-12 in the Yosemite Division championship at Memorial Stadium in Bakersfield.

And that was it. At least, as the North Yosemite League is aligned today, that was it.

This year's six schools -- a combination the ever-changing conference hasn't seen -- haven't won a section football title since.

The six, in alphabetical order, are: Fresno, Hoover, Madera South, McLane, Reedley and Roosevelt.

Now consider the NYL in its glory years in the '80s and early '90s: Clovis West, Clovis, Edison, Bullard, Madera, Hoover, McLane, Fresno and Roosevelt.

"Things have changed immensely," said Hoover's Pat Plummer, whose 24th season this year with the Patriots will be his last. "Some have advantages and others don't in this business, and that's the way it is."

But while those advantages dictated largely by demographic make-up (namely, white flight to Fresno County's northeast) have shaped the section's quest to achieve competitive balance, objectives remained unchanged for NYL teams as they're aligned today.

Win it.

And that points to three:

"Realistically, we're going to be up there fighting for [the championship], no doubt in my mind." -- Hoover's Plummer.

"We're going to win the league; I've got everybody convinced of it." -- Madera South coach Scott Donegan.

"We're a very senior group, so I like our chances." -- Reedley first-year coach Myles Bacon.

Bacon's Pirates and Plummer's Patriots have been shifted from the stronger County/Metro Athletic Conference -- which delivered section champions Bullard (Division I) and Edison (D-II) last year -- to the NYL while Sunnyside and Memorial have been promoted from the NYL to the CMAC.

And, in general, the realignment is accepted.

Fresno coach Hector Verduzco: "Teams that needed to be moved, were moved. Competition is always a positive."

Plummer: "In this day and age, if you do it right, you play with guys at your school and do the best job you can. We're not treating this league different than any other."

Donegan: "We're an inner-city school in a smaller town; we're right where we belong. I think it's good and I'm happy with it."

And Bacon, a Reedley graduate who succeeds Justin Garza, who has taken over at Sunnyside: "I'd value other people's opinion more than my own, but we have 25 seniors, so I like our possibilities. And maybe for other sports as well. I think the NYL better fits the demographics of Reedley High."

North Yosemite League 2009 standings: *Memorial 10-2 (5-0 league), *Sunnyside 5-7 (4-1), Roosevelt 6-5 (3-2), Madera South 2-8 (2-3), Fresno 1-9 (1-4), McLane 0-9 (0-5)

* Moved to County/Metro Athletic Conference

2010 league/playoff divisions: Fresno (III), Hoover (II), Madera South (III), McLane (IV), Reedley (II), Roosevelt (IV)

League favorite: Reedley

League darkhorse: Madera South

Games to watch: Sunnyside at Reedley (Sept. 17); Madera South at Madera (Oct. 1); Reedley at Central (Oct. 1); Bullard vs. Hoover (at McLane) and Reedley at Sanger (Oct. 8); Madera South at Reedley (Oct. 22); Madera South vs. Hoover (at Sunnyside, Oct. 29); Fresno vs. Roosevelt (at Sunnyside) and Hoover at Reedley (Nov. 12).

Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Tevin Ivy, RB/DB, Hoover, 5-9, 160, senior: Ready to roll as one of the area's premier running backs after losing 70% of his junior season with a torn tendon in his foot.

Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Brent Orsaba, DL, Reedley, 6-1, 245, senior: Back as a disruptive force in the interior after playing well for a 7-4 Pirates team last year.

Players to watch: Fresno, QB Juan Sanchez, 5-10, 160, Sr; OL/DL Antonio Reyes, 5-10, 200, sr; TE/LB Andrew Furlong, 59, 165, sr; WR/S Michael Crocketts, 5-11, 150, sr.; Hoover, QB Shane Martinez, 6-1,185, sr; TE/DT Demontae Williams, 6-3, 245, sr; G/DE Andrew Avila, 5-10, 210, sr; C/DE Craig Jensen, 6-2, 205, sr.; Madera South, RB/S Manolo Pineda Ibarra, 5-10, 182, sr; DL/OL Angel Conchas, 6-0, 278, jr; WR/LB Travis Middleton, 6-4, 195, jr; RB/LB Marcus McCoy, 5-8, 168, jr.; McLane, RB/LB Jose Huerta, 5-9, 180, sr; QB Johnny Phaxay, 6-0, 185, sr; LB Emmanuel Gutierrez, 5-11, 195, sr.; Reedley, QB/S Will Szpor, 6-2, 190, sr; WR/CB David Cardoza, 6-0, 164, sr.; Roosevelt, QB Victor Garcia, 5-5, 130, sr; OL Fernando Perez, 6-1, 235, sr; DL Eddie Jimenez, 5-5, 185, sr.

Best barbershop banter: Will Pat Plummer, in his 24th and final season as Hoover's coach, go out not only with a league championship, but a Central Section title as well? "The switch [from the County/Metro Athletic Conference to the NYL] gives us a great opportunity," he says, "and not only to win the league title, but the other one [in section D-II], too."

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