Warrior players engage in some football drills in preparation for the 2016 football season which begins in early September
in Ridgecrest against Burroughs. Photo by The Tehachapi News.

New and Old Warriors Alike
Prepping For New Season

Posted August 2, 2016 by The Tehachapi News

The Warriors are back on the practice field, preparing for a football season that’s less than a month away with a lot of positions still to sort out.

There are some linebacker positions to fill, a lineman’s job here and there, running backs to assess, and then there’s quarterback — four players competing for one job.

“Things have a tendency to sort themselves out at this time of year,” head coach Steve Denman said of the decisions left ahead.

The Warriors resumed practice on Monday, Aug. 1, after two weeks off. Denman said that after some additional conditioning and drills on fundamentals, he’d have the team in pads on Friday, Aug. 12.

With the season opener at Burroughs in Ridgecrest looming on Friday night, Sept. 2, the Warriors will be depending on a solid group of seniors and some precocious newcomers to get them off to a quick start.

Last year’s starting quarterback, Lars Olofson, has graduated, but Denman has four solid candidates to replace him in lefty senior and last year’s backup, Paul Stephens; 2015 junior varsity QB Patrick Grimes, a junior; another junior, Luke Soto, and Chris Garcia.

“It’s a big role for us, but I think with the guys we have, we’ll be great, plus we’re going to have a great group of running backs,” said senior Tanner Herman, listed at outside linebacker and tight end.

Health-wise, the Warriors’ biggest question mark is at running back, where last year’s leading rusher, Keyron Scott, is still recovering from offseason knee surgery.

Scott, whose rehab was said to be ahead of schedule, is expected to return in late September or early October. Until then, the Warriors might have a surprise newcomer in Zion Dean, a transfer from Oceanside, north of San Diego.

He’ll be joined by senior Troy Noda, who saw a lot of action last year after Scott was injured, and a few other eager newcomers.

“We’ll just have to wait and see what happens,” Denman said. “There’s a lot of competition out there.”

Herman said he might join the fray at running back, gunning for the Z-back or blocking back position.

“I like the contact,” he said, “but I’ll help out any way they ask me to.”

Noda’s role still is up in the air, as well. Last year, he had 19 rushes for 105 yards and also played defensive back. At 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds or more, he could provide the Warriors with a strong inside running threat to complement the outside style of Scott and Dean.

“I hope to fit in wherever I can to help make the team get better,” Noda said. “Defensively, I’ll probably be a cornerback, on offense either a Z-back or tight end.”

Noda said he expects this year’s version of the Warriors to be an improvement over the 2015 version.

“I think we’re a better team,” he said. “With Zion being the new guy, and Keyron coming back, I think we’ll be pretty dangerous.

“We were good last year, but we had a few early hiccups that I think we can eliminate early this season.”

Herman, a linebacker, also will be a key part of Denman’s defense. Starting linebackers Angel Garcia, Daniel Wight, Colton Eaton and a host of others have graduated.

“We’ve got a lot of new and younger players, but I think we can pick up where we left off last year,” Herman said. “There are some really good, young players here who can fill right in.”

In the meantime, Herman sees an additional role for himself as a senior.

“I need to step up and be leader and be vocal about it,” Herman said. “I just know that if we all do our jobs, we can come out with a victory.”

And that, Noda hopes, will lead to a South Yosemite League title and a CIF championship.

“After all,” he said, “it’s my senior year.”

His last chance.

Warriors Football Practice Reopens
With QB Position Up For Grabs

Posted July 30, 2016 by The Tehachapi News

The Warriors football team resumed practice this week with a four-way quarterback quandry and high expectations for the 2016-17 season.

Practice got underway again on Monday, Aug. 1, after a two-week hiatus from summer drills. Head coach Steve Denman had two-a-days scheduled on Mondays and Wednesdays for the first two weeks and planned to have his team in pads by the end of this week.

“The competition at different positions is good for us,” Denman said. “It makes everybody better.”

When the team broke from summer drills two weeks ago, the quarterback job was still wide open. Senior left-hander Paul Stephens, last year’s junior varsity QB Patrick Grimes, junior Luke Soto and Chris Garcia all were competing for the spot.

“Who knows, one guy might step up and win the job, but you never know,” Denman said. “In the meantime, those guys are all playing other positions, too, so they’re active all the time.”

Overall, Denman said he was pleased with his players’ approach during the July drills and speed training.

“We got a good jump on the season during the summer. For the most part, they worked really hard,” the coach said. “It was a little hit-and-miss with kids going on vacations, but I think they got their speed up and got some good conditioning.”

Denman said he expected to have good depth at running back this season, although the Warriors’ leading rusher from last year, Keyron Scott, is still recupeerating from knee surgery. He’s not expected to rejoin the team until late September or early October.

“We have some inexperience, too,” he said. “The defense is pretty solid, although we’re looking for some people at the linebacker position.”

In fact, Denman said, every position is wide open until somebody wins it.

“If somebody shows up and you don’t compete, somebody else is going to get your job, that’s for sure,” Denman said.

The Warriors have their first game of the season scheduled for Friday night, Sept. 2, at Burroughs. The week before, they’ll be in Taft for a full scrimmage.

They’ll play their first three games on the road, then open at home on Friday night, Sept. 23, against Paraclete.

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