Visalia football ready to tackle 2022 season

East Yosemite League football teams promise an exciting full season with new coaches, new teams in the league and without COVID protocols

VISALIA – The global pandemic kept students out of school, off the field and away from their teammates for a year. When they returned to the gridiron the entire season suffered from canceled games and an onerous testing protocol. And in 2022, teams may be able to put some of the impacts of COVID behind them, but now they are contending with a new league entirely.

Teams in the West Yosemite League (WYL) and the East Yosemite League (EYL) have been shuffled around, making for new opportunities. The EYL now consists of the four Visalia high schools, Redwood High School, Mt. Whitney High School, El Diamante High School and Golden West High School. Added are Porterville High School and Monache High School.

The new EYL held a media conference on Aug. 1 to discuss the upcoming season.

The 2022 season will be the first season in which a full schedule without COVID-19 protocols will be played in two years. The 2020 football season was canceled completely due to the pandemic and the 2021 season suffered from canceled and rescheduled games as teams dealt with testing and outbreaks. 

“These kids need sports and athletics and taking that away from them, I think some of them lost motivation to come back and play,” Travis Anderson, Golden West’s new head coach said. “I think we’re getting away from that and the excitement is coming back around.”

Teams were able to have spring and summer workouts both on the field and in the weight room. Fans can expect to see well-conditioned teams ready to bring the energy back to football after two seasons off.

El Diamante High School named Devin Ramos as the football head coach for this year. He was the interim head coach after the previous coach, Mark Rogers, stepped down.

“I think my background running a program, being the head baseball coach, gives me a leg up over a first year coach,” Ramos said.

Ramos put in the work over the summer to reinvigorate the El Diamante football program by encouraging a hard work ethic and dominance from the offensive line. The team spent four weeks working in the weight room and on the field over the summer.

All of the teams have put in offseason time in the weight room. Coaches emphasized the hard work their players have been putting into their conditioning as well as the time on the field running plays and creating team chemistry.

“Football is a whole bunch of work and not a lot of quick reward,” Monache head coach Shane Focke said . “These days kids need to get back into the momentum of putting in that work to reward themselves.”

Some senior players did not get full seasons during the sophomore or junior years because of the pandemic. After missing those years, some starters only have one year left to show their skills as players and fulfill their dreams of finishing at the top of the league.

“I feel like Covid really messed us up,” Redwood middle linebacker Noe Viveros said . “We didn’t have a lot of time to grow the team. I think we’re just ready to play together.”

Two head coaches were appointed this season, but the other four are recent appointments. Monache, Redwood and Mt. Whitney all appointed new head coaches in 2019 and Porterville appointed a new head coach in 2020.

“I came in the springtime and then COVID hit,” Redwood head coach Kevin Scharton said. “This is really my first year as a coach to have a full on weekend training program through the spring and summer so I’m excited to see how that looks on the field.”

When players were asked who their biggest rival is, they all had one answer: Redwood.

“I love a challenge,” Scharton said. “I’m convincing these guys week in and week out that they have a target on their back. Sometimes I don’t think it really sinks in.”

Redwood has the largest roster of any of the teams with 70 players on each of their three teams: varsity, JV and freshmen. In comparison, El Diamante has 67 players on varsity, Porterville has 40 players on varsity and Golden West has 47 players on varsity.

Everyone is looking forward to playing Redwood, but the biggest team is looking forward to playing Mt. Whitney. Mt. Whitney beat Redwood 13-7 last year. This year, Mt. Whitney hopes their hard work pays off again.

“My main focus is making sure that we compete to the best of our ability,” Mt. Whitney head coach Nathan Chamberlain said. “We were lucky that our kids did what they’re supposed to do. They put in all the work that was necessary to be successful.”

Former EYL teams Tulare Union High School, Tulare West High School and Mission Oak High School are now part of the WYL.

The four Visalia teams – Redwood, Mt. Whitney, El Diamante and Golden West – will face off in a four-way scrimmage on Aug. 8 to preview the season. The first league game of the season will be Redwood at Clovis North on Aug. 25 at 7 p.m.

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