Golden West HC Paul Preheim to coach East team at Tulare-Kings All-Star Game


By Patrick Dillon @PDillon_SGN

VISALIA – Four years ago, Golden West’s Paul Preheim thought the possibility of being selected as head coach of the Tulare-Kings Counties All-Star Game was a long shot. After all, the Golden West Trailblazers had only won three games in his first three seasons combined. But those memories have been replaced by winning the school’s first valley and regional championships in 2017. These accomplishments have led to his and his staff’s appointment as the coaching crew for the East team at this Saturday’s 51st Tulare-Kings All-Star Game.

“Nobody thought this would happen,” Coach Preheim said. “This is definitely an honor, and it is surprising to see how much talent is out there.”

While this may be Preheim’s first appearance in this game, it will not be his first time coaching all-stars. As an assistant coach for the Hoover Patriots, he was selected twice for the City-County All-Star Game in 2007, and again in 2011. He also made an appearance in the North-South Chowchilla All-Star Game in 2008.

On Saturday, Preheim will be joined by two of his former players, Gonzalo Rodriguez and Josh Summers, who made last fall’s football season such a success on opposite sides of the ball.

Rodriguez had a better year than any in the West Yosemite League (WYL). He became Visalia’s all-time career rushing record holder when he rushed for 181 yards in a 47-14 win over the Mt. Whitney Pioneers in week 9. That night, the 4,183-yard record set by El Diamante’s Wayne Jones in 2005, was rewritten for Rodriguez at 4,261 yards. He ended the season with 5,528 career rushing yards. The crowning moment for Rodriguez came on the night of Dec. 1, at the 2017 Central Section Division IV Valley Championship Game when, in overtime, he scored the winning touchdown for the school’s first section title, 27-21, over Central Valley Christian.

“That valley championship game may be the best game I’ve ever been a part of,” Preheim said.

On the defensive side of the ball, Summers anchored the Blazers’ linebacking corps. Of his 186 team-leading tackles, 118 were solo. He also accounted for two sacks on the season totaling a 17-yard loss.

“[I] thought it was all over and now I get to coach them for one more game,” Preheim said. “It extends the pain of saying goodbye to them.”

All-star games often give former rivals an opportunity to suit up together. Golden West will be joined by players from around Visalia including WYL rivals El Diamante, Redwood, Mt. Whitney and CVC. The Cavaliers’ quarterback JJ Lino could be starting under center after throwing for 2,492 yards, and 34 touchdowns last season.

“In Visalia, everyone knows everyone. So it’ll be good to see how well they will click,” Preheim said.

The East squad will be joined by players from outside the city as well. Fresh off their first state championship win, the Strathmore Spartans will suit up four players. Leading the group is running back Joseph Garcia. Strathmore rode him to the state championship rushing for 2,849 yards and 49 touchdowns.

The game is set for Saturday, June 23, at Groppetti Community Stadium. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. General admission is $10.

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