Tulare County football returns after league shake up

Central section football teams look ahead to new matchups after major league realignments

TULARE COUNTY – After major changes to leagues, Central section teams in Tulare County prepare for new matchups and old rivalries in the 2022 season.

Central Section teams were shaken up as leagues shifted around during the offseason. All of the Visalia teams moved to the East Yosemite League, joining Porterville and Monache. The Tri-County leagues, Kings Canyon and Sequoia, are new for the 2022 season and split up the old Central Sequoia league. Orange Cove and Orosi join the East Sequoia league from the West Sequoia league while the rest of the West Sequoia league will now be a part of the new Northwest Sequoia league.

Central section teams in Tulare County have prepared for old rivalries and new matchups in their new leagues ahead of the 2022 season, beginning Aug. 18 with non-league play.

East Yosemite League

Redwood High School completed the 2021 season with a 4-6 overall record, most prominently losing to Mt. Whitney in their final regular season game and to Mission Oak in their first playoff game. Their league record was 3-2, beating Golden West, Hanford and El Diamante and scoring over 40 points in each of the three games.  They finished third in the West Yosemite league.

Redwood has been moved to the East Yosemite league for the 2022 season. They have eight defensive starters returning along with quarterback Francisco Alvarez and three offensive linemen. With most of the returning starters on defense, Redwood is expecting to play a strong defense this season. Last year the team was young, which means a more experienced team this year after playing a season together last year.

Golden West High School finished 6th in the West Yosemite league in 2021 with an overall record of 2-7. The only wins were over non-league teams Hoover and Hanford West. Golden West did not make the playoffs in 2021 but hope to make a strong comeback in 2022.

Like Redwood, Golden West was shifted to the East Yosemite league for the 2022 season. The team is still young, but participation has gone up significantly. Their top quarterback from 2021, Raymon Velazquez, returns as a junior this year. Their top running back and safety, Ricky Elias, will be a senior. They have a promising sophomore tight end, Eric Meyst, who brings a lot of size to the team’s offense. The new head coach, Travis Anderson, is a first-time head coach who hopes to lead the team to a winning record by changing up the style of offense from a running offense to a passing offense.

El Diamante High School finished the 2021 season with a 3-7 overall record and fifth in the West Yosemite league. They beat Mt. Whitney but lost all other league games. They lost their first and only playoff game to Central Valley Christian.

El Diamante has also been added to the East Yosemite league for 2022 and has a new head coach, Devin Ramos. Ramos has encouraged dominance from the offensive line this season to “bring back the smash mouth football mentality,” he said at the EYL media conference on Aug. 1. The varsity roster has nearly 70 players. 

Players to watch are Collin Donley, a senior middle linebacker, and Aiden Nuckels, a senior fullback. Senior quarterback Freddy Valencia returns for his final year as well. The team is a more experienced team overall, but it is their first year with Ramos as a full-time coach. The former head coach, Mark Rogers, had established a strong running game, which Ramos worked to reestablish during the offseason, emphasizing hard work and a traditional style of play.

Mt. Whitney finished fourth in the West Yosemite league in 2021 with an overall record of 2-7 and a league record of 1-2. Their major win last year was over rival Redwood High School with a score of 13-7. Mt. Whitney plans to win the rivalry again in 2022.

This year Mt. Whitney moved to the East Yosemite league. While their top quarterback, senior Dominic Peneda, is returning, their top running back and top receiver from last year graduated. Jonah Marquez played safety last year but will move into a flex position this year while Michael Sanchez will move from outside linebacker to running back. The team has been in the weightroom since January and head coach Nathan Chamberlain has seen improvements over summer practices.

Monache High School was fifth in the East Yosemite league in 2021 with a 5-7 overall record and a 1-4 league record. Monache beat Golden West in a non-league game last year and will face them again in a league game this year. The rivalry game with Porterville High School had a close score of 14-12 and the Marauders hope for redemption in 2022.

Monache remains in the East Yosemite league and will be joined by the Visalia high schools this year. Returning players to watch include Damien Espinoza, senior running back, Matthew Barba, senior defensive back and tight end, and David Leyva, senior running back and outside linebacker. Coach Shane Focke expects a strong season from the offensive line and has strengthened the team’s running game during the offseason.

Porterville High School finished fourth in the East Yosemite league in 2021 with an overall record of 4-6 and a league record of 2-2. They lost the first game of the playoffs to Highland with a score of 15-6. They won the rivalry game with Monache High School 14-12 and plan to defend that rivalry this season.

Porterville has eight offensive starters and six defensive starters returning to the team this year. Their starting quarterback will not be returning, but upcoming junior quarterback Rocky Arguijo shows promise to lead the team to a strong season. Senior running back Jaret Garcia and senior wide receiver Alfredo Nunez are returning.

League realignments and team breakdowns  for the West Yosemite League, Tri-County Sequoia League, Tri-County Kings Canyon League, Northwest Sequoia League and East Sequoia League, will be published later this week.

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