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Posted August 10, 2007, by Brad Riddell, The Bakersfield Californian

Arvin Coach Edgar Mares knows his Arvin Bears won't surprise anyone this season. They did enough of that a year ago, quietly sneaking their way to an undefeated (2006) South Sequoia League championship.

"I think we have the talent to defend the title," Mares said. "It's definitely not the same team. We still have a ways to go as far as chemistry, but the talent and potential is there."

Chemistry may be one of the keys to Arvin's success. After starting slowly last season, Mares said he could really see his team grow week by week, maturing enough to win close games with Taft and Tehachapi.

That formula worked, but Arvin won't be an underdog in 2007. Teams know that the Bears will be as tough as any SSL opponent.

"We're not going to surprise anybody this year," Mares said. "People are starting to realize that, when they play Arvin, it's going to be a tough game."

Playmaker Julian Salinas is gone, but Eric Castro and Daniel Gonzalez will be counted on to make things happen from skill positions. Travis Hicks, Baltazar Martinez, Alfredo Moreno and Francisco Cervantes will anchor the offensive line, while Joey Carballo and Jose Flores will lead the defense.

Arvin has tough early games with Highland, Foothill, Garces, Ridgeview and South, but Mares wouldn't want it any other way.

"We started 1-3 last year and we were thin early on," he said. "They just bonded together. Whatever they didn't have in size and speed, they made up for in team chemistry, they laid it on the line for each other.