Black Hat Football’s 2016 Preview: Southern League looking at yet another new champ

Filed in Uncategorized by on August 22, 2016

SOUTHERN LEAGUE

Finish & Record: 1, Delhi (6-1, 8-2); 2, Mariposa (6-1, 8-2); 3, Orestimba (5-2, 6-4); 4, Le Grand (5-2, 7-3); 5, Gustine (2-5, 3-7); 6, Ripon Christian (2-5, 3-7); 7, Denair (1-6, 3-7); 8, Waterford 1-6, 2-8).

MVP: Delhi RB/LB Jesse Flores

Offensive MVP: Le Grand QB Beto Marquez

Defensive MVP: Orestimba DL Toby Silva

5 Must-See Players: Mariposa RB Josh Land was a 1,000-yard rusher as a junior, despite among the smallest kinds in the field at 5-foot-5, 150 pounds. He had a huge first imgres-1half in 2015, then struggled with defenses in league … Ripon Christian TE Ty Beidleman is a 6-6, 215-pound target any quarterback could appreciate. He had just 4 TDs last fall, despite 25 catches – the Knights need to find him near the end zone more often … Le Grand QB Beto Marquez threw 22 TDs compared to 5 interceptions a year ago, and his arm becomes more critical with the loss of RB Calros Yniguez. He could be the next Le Grand QB to throw 30 TDs in a season – which will mean WR Rigoberto Mares has had another big season after catching 8 TDs as a junior … Ripon Christian LB Jake Beukelman was a tackling machine a year ago, getting in on 131 takedowns in 12 games. He had 14 QB hurries, but this year, Beukelman needs to turn those hurries into sacks.

What’s New: Pretty much everything in the Southern League is new after staggering graduation losses across the league this past spring. It’s difficult to find all-league skill players returning for 2016 … Delhi has never won a league title, but bruising runner urlJesse Flores could help snap that streak. The Hawks are 25-25 over the last five seasons … Le Grand won six consecutive league championships before Orestimba broke its stranglehold last fall. Look for another new league champion this fall.

What’s Not New: Delhi RB Jesse Flores is back for his third varsity season, playing on the line as a sophomore and moving to RB last fall. The 5-foot-11, 230-pounder averaged just 12 carries a game, yet still topped 1,000 yards and scored 12 TDs.

The Turning Point: It’s an interesting season for West Side rivals Orestimba and Gustine, who put together historic seasons in 2015 and now face huge rebuilding campaigns. Both schools need to return to the playoffs to maintain the momentum created a year ago. Orestimba had not won more than six games in a season before going 10-0 in 2015, while Gustine was averaging 3.5 wins per season before going 9-1 a year ago.

How Far Can They Go: So long as the Southern League champ lands in the Division 6 bracket, it jas a chance for playoff success. So much depends on the seeding and the competition – and whether the small private schools are enjoying a big season.

 

 

About the Author ()

Richard T. Estrada has been covering high school football in The 209 area code for more than 30 years and is the voice of authority on the game in California's Central Valley. He oversaw The Modesto Bee's high school sports coverage for a couple of decades, and also was a national award-winning business and agriculture writer. Black Hat Football not only covers the game, but emphasizes education and the need for The 209's student-athletes to prepare for college.

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