B Varsity

Tuesday, Aug 13 2013 02:00 PM

2013 HS football previews: Ridgeview

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BY ZACH EWING Californian staff writer zewing@bakersfield.com

Today we get to the second of Kern County's three returning Central Section champions, the Ridgeview Wolf Pack. Unlike Wasco and Garces (which we'll get to in the next week), Ridgeview will have a very different feel this season. You don't lose a guy like Kamari Cotton-Moya and come back the same.

But that's not to say Ridgeview won't be a force anyway. Dennis Manning is quickly turning this into the dominant program in the South Yosemite League and an perennial contender in the new league next year that will contain Independence and Tehachapi.

Countdown to Week 0: 17 days

RIDGEVIEW WOLF PACK

Coach: Dennis Manning (fifth year)

2012 record: 11-2 (4-0 South Yosemite League, 7-1 home, beat Dinuba 55-14 for Division III Central Section championship)
Average points: 36.8
Average points allowed: 19.3
Average rush yards: 359.2
Average rush yards allowed: 178.3
Average pass yards: 103.8
Average pass yards allowed: 116.3
Best win: Ridgeview 26, Liberty 16
Worst loss: Frontier 17, Ridgeview 6
*—yardage figures are from MaxPreps and are only used if at least half of games are available. Take them with a grain of salt. Figure could be skewed depending on which games, if any, are missing

Key players: Jestyn James, jr, OL/DL; Jagmeet Sandhu, sr, OL/DL; Mykeil Clayton, jr, TE/DL; Preveon Alexander, jr, RB/DB; Daylen Warren, jr, RB/DB

Key losses: Kamari Cotton-Moya, QB/DB; Brandon Tripp, RB/LB; Robert Watson, TE/LB; Shane Proctor, OL/DL

Offense: It's not that the Wolf Pack doesn't have anyone returning from its Division III championship victory over Dinuba; it's just that most of the guys back were standing on the sideline as Kamari Cotton-Moya and Brandon Tripp ran roughshod over the Emperors. There are three starters back: Both tackles, Jestyn James and Jagmeet Sandhu, and tight end Shaquan Baines. Blockers are a good place to start, of course, but the skill positions are full of athletic question marks. Dennis Manning and his staff started with seven quarterbacks, and late last week he said they had only narrowed the competition to three or four. Expect Jaccob Lopez, a junior, to get first crack at the running back spot, but he's got defensive responsibilites and so will plenty of backup. In general, this is not as fast of a team as it has been in the past, but there are still plenty of guys who can make people miss.

Defense: It's a similar situation on defense; several key players return, including Preveon Alexander, Mykeil Clayton and Lopez, but in all this unit is much more inexperienced than in 2012. But the championship pedigree remains. It was Alexander, you might remember, who blocked the punt that set up Ridgeview's miracle comeback win over Independence in the D-III semifinals. Clayton was a defensive lineman last year but might move to linebacker, where Tripp and leading tackler Robert Watson must be replaced. Manning said his philosophy here will be to play his best players full-time on defense and rely on that side of the ball until some offensive consistency develops. This has been a big-play unit since Manning came to Ridgeview, so expect that to continue.

Outlook: The true test of a great high school football program is to win a lot of games, lose great players and then do it all over again with little drop-off. Ridgeview has achieved the first part of that equation. Now it's time to see if the Wolf Pack can survive the loss of a brilliant class of 20 or so seniors that brought this program its finest two years. Shannon Edwards, Kyrie Wilson, Tyler Ferguson, Bryson Keeton and Kamari Cotton-Moya are all playing big-time college football and solid players and leaders like Brandon Tripp, Robert Watson and Shane Proctor are gone, too. Now what? Who fills Cotton-Moya's shoes, and how does he react to that kind of assignment? Can the defense carry the load early while the offense finds itself? There are question marks everywhere, but it says here that Ridgeview is going to find most of the answers. This is a program, not just a team, and the talent level and attitude are both good enough to keep things rolling even with a young team. That might not translate into a bunch of wins against a difficult non-league schedule, but once the SYL season rolls around, this will be the team to beat yet again.

Quotaable: "It's a great challenge for our kids. They don't think we're going to be terrible; they think we're going to be good. And I don't want them to think any other way. It's just about finding that formula for success." — Manning

Schedule: Aug. 30 Frontier
Sept. 6 Independence
Sept. 13 at Foothill
Sept. 20 at Newhall-Hart
Sept. 27 Liberty
Oct. 4 at Fresno-Washington Union
Oct. 11 at Mira Monte*
Oct. 18 South*
Oct. 25 West*
Nov. 1 BYE
Nov. 8 at Golden Valley*
*—SYL game

Prediction: 7-3, 4-0 SYL

2013 HS football preview index
Aug. 1: 8-man schools
Aug. 2: Burroughs, Boron, Desert
Aug. 3: Rosamond, California City
Aug. 4: Frazier Mountain, Kern Valley
Aug. 5: McFarland, Delano, Kennedy
Aug. 6: Chavez
Aug. 6: Shafter
Aug. 7: Arvin
Aug. 7: Taft
Aug. 8: Wasco
Aug. 8: Bakersfield Christian
Aug. 9: Mira Monte
Aug. 10: Golden Valley
Aug. 11: South
Aug. 12: West

Tomorrow: North

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