He's qualified because: He's a two-year coach with two Central Section Division VI championships, but this season was an entirely different ride. As opposed to his first season -- when he says, "All the pieces were in place" and the 12-0 Aztecs won by an average of 38.0 points -- Mendota replaced 17 starters in the fall. Further, the Aztecs entered the postseason with three losses, including a 25-20 regular season-ending decision to rival Firebaugh when four Mendota starters were serving one-game suspensions. But in the playoffs, they defeated Avenal 21-0 and then Farmersville and top gun Sam Metcalf 34-21 in a game that was tied 13-13 at halftime. Combining his three-year Mendota JV record of 29-1, with a City/County All-Star win as County coach last summer with this two-year varsity mark of 21-3, he's 51-4 in five years since taking the whistle and breathing life into the west side community.
-- He said it: "We experienced losses, and it was like, 'Oh my gosh, this is a different feeling.' We went through a lot of distractions and struggles, and we took everybody's best shot, but we overcame it in the end and defended our title. Next year's going to be good, these kids know it, and we have bigger expectations. I know a lot of people in the community are excited and can't wait for football to start again. I can't go anywhere without people asking me about it. We're blessed, man. We've just got to keep winning." -- Mejia.
COY finalists: Cory Hall, Clovis North; Rich Hammond, Clovis; Justin Garza, Central; Chuck Shidan, Sanger; Kevin Scharton, Dinuba; Mark Gambini, Mission Oak; Mike Nolte, Liberty-Madera Ranchos.