Gavin Pachot didn’t get the Rialto job under ideal circumstances last year, as he was named the interim coach of the Knights last June after Don Markham resigned under allegations of player misconduct. But after a 5-5 record and a full offseason, things at Rialto not only are normal, but feeling pretty good.
“Spirits are pretty high,” Pachot said. “Having an entire offseason to work with these kids makes a huge difference. I’ve had them since January and we’ve gotten a lot of good work done. We made some strides last year but we have a way to go.”
The biggest thing the Knights are working toward in a quest for their first playoff berth since 2001 is closing the deal at home. While the Knights made tremendous strides in going from three wins combined from 2007-2009 to five last year, Pachot believes that squandering their home-field advantage was a big reason why their playoff drought continues.
“For whatever reason we didn’t play well in front of our home fans,” Pachot said. “I’m not sure if we were nervous or trying to hard, but we went 1-4 on our own field. That’s something we need to fix because it’s important to take advantage of being at home.”
If there was a competitive-eating competition involving high school football teams in San Bernardino County, Sultana would be one of the favorites. While many local coaches have commented on their lack of size, Sultans coach Blake Robbins has a plethora of big guys to lead the way.
“I’m really not sure what it is, but we have a lot of big guys in the program,” Robbins said. “I’m not complaining. If they can play up to their potential, we have a chance to be pretty good.”
Sultana comes into 2011 with a monkey off its back, as it broke a 23-game losing streak with a win at Pacific last September and prevailed over Hesperia for the first time since 2006 in the “Key Game.” While Robbins is happy that those streaks are over, he feels that his team squandered an opportunity to do even more a year ago.
“We went 2-8, but we really felt that we should have won three or four more games,” Robbins said. “We played tough in most of our games but we weren’t able to make the big play. A lot of times we’d move the ball down the field and then commit a turnover or get a penalty that would ruin it.”
The opening of Oak Hills High School in 2009 threw Hesperia High School for a bit of a loop. Going into the third season of coexistence, the schools still haven’t found a way to balance each other out.
“We are basically a team full of sophomores and seniors,” Hesperia coach Jeremy Topete said. “A lot of the 8th graders that were going to be freshmen two years ago went to Oak Hills and are juniors there right now. Hopefully soon both schools will stabilize a bit.”
The Scorpions hope that the stabilization will help the Scorpions get back to where they were pre-Oak Hills, as Hesperia won a combined 21 games in 2007-08, winning the Mojave River League title in 2008. Hesperia has struggled mightily in its first two seasons under Topete, winning only four games, only one of which came last year. And the Scorpions will go to ball-control to try to improve.
“We are going to try to shorten the game and avoid turnovers, especially early,” Topete said. “Too many times last year we committed the early turnover, got down real quickly and weren’t able to come back. We are going to try to prevent that from happening again.”