Football in Delano is a tradition that’s been around for nearly a century. In fact, the 2018 football team is the 99th team in Delano High School history.

And coaches have tried to rebuild the program for nearly six years. However, 2018 seems to be the season in which Delano High is ready to win its very first valley title.

As a team with a record of 6-5, the expectations for the Tigers to be the best team in the city are there. We will detail the team’s strong points, as well as wins and losses for the team.

Breaking Down the Offense

Delano High’s offense has seen quite a bit of change in the past couple of years, changing from the traditional veer option to the spread and then back to the wing-T because the main offensive formation of the offense can contain up to three running backs.

The current wing-T offense is better suited for Delano’s traditional run-first style of play. The strengths for the offense lie in the player experience. With multiple such players in the wingback position, Delano’s backfield looks set to reach the 1,500-yard mark. The experience of the team is also shown in the team’s offensive line. An experienced line gives Delano the ability to create running lanes. Delano could ride that line all the way to the valley title game.

Expectations for the Offense

The 2017 Tiger team was primarily carried by its solid defense. This is evident through Delano’s many slim-margin victories, such as beating Porterville, 37-30, and Mission Oak, 27-23. It’s a brand-new year.

Yet expectations for Delano are considerably high.

We’ll start with senior quarterback Fernando Ferrel, who showed flashes of greatness last year, especially in the Tigers’ blowout win against Monache. Personally, I expect Ferrel to have more rushing yards than passing yards because with many triple-option plays, Delano could run 90 percent of the time.

The expectation for Ferrel is at least 400 rushing yards to complement an expectation of at least 200 passing yards.

Fellow senior Sergio Gonzalez has huge expectations. Being the main running back in a run-heavy offense should lead to inflated stats. A season total of 1,000 rushing yards is expected, especially if Gonzalez can stay healthy. One hundred yards per game is quite doable.

Breaking Down the Defense

After the losing longtime defensive coordinator Roger Rubio, the Tigers’ defense will experience much change during the season. The addition of Sergio Barajas from Cesar Chavez High School looks to spice up an already well-experienced and tenacious Delano High defense. The defense may be an unknown on an X’s and O’s standpoint. But with the tools at his disposal, Barajas can take advantage of Delano’s strengths.

Expectations for the Defense

The strength of the Tiger defense is the defensive line, which features freak of nature Arturo Gonzalez, a junior who put up an amazing 31 reps of 185 pounds on the bench press. Also on hand is former first-team All-EYL defensive end Carlos Urias, even though, there appears to be quite a bit of pressure on him to meet expectations of at least six quarterback sacks this season.

The expectations are through the roof for Erik Manjarrez, the senior middle linebacker who led the team in tackles and earned a first-team EYL award. Manjarrez was nothing short of spectacular last year. Playing with a swagger and confidence easily backed by his amazing play-reading skills, he can easily tell exactly where a play is headed and has the block-shedding skills to make the tackle.

Expectations for the Team

As for the team as a whole it, looks to be Delano’s year. With the potential to contend with any team in the EYL, I will break down the teams schedule and state their case against each opponent.

DHS record prediction: 7-3

Best-case scenario: 9-1

Worst-case scenario: 4-6

Week 1| @CCHS

W — Delano 21, CCHS 7

Cesar Chavez High School is coming off a season in which they went 0-10 and lost their aspiring star of a quarterback to McFarland. Chavez doesn’t look too well off. However, this game is quite possibly the biggest game DHS will play until the playoffs. As for CCHS, this game means all the pride in Delano because face it, no matter the record of Chavez football, DHS and CCHS will always be the highlight game for teams in Delano. I predict the score will be kept low in the first half as Delano tries to find offensive rhythm, but the Tigers will eventually hit their groove and add an additional two touchdowns. As for Chavez’s score, the Delano defense will show their tenacity in the grind of the game.

Week 2| vs. South

L — Delano 14, South 24

South High School has always been known for their explosive athletes. With a spread offense out of the shotgun formation, South’s speed may prove lethal against a grinding Delano defense. The game will be explosive in the second and third quarters but will stall in the beginning and end.

Week 3| @East Bakersfield

W — Delano 15, East Bakersfield 13

What could prove to be one of the best games of the season, the two teams are known for their run-stopping defenses. This will lead to a long, stalled-out game that can turn into a nail-biter.

Week 4| @Foothill

W — Delano 45, Foothill 7

Coming off a two-year winning streak against the team, DHS frankly looks like a much better team in comparison. As for Foothill, a team coming off a 1-8 season, they would be fortunate to score on Delano in this matchup.

Week 5| @Wasco

W — Delano 34, Wasco 22

There’s an unseen hatred between these teams, and it was evident in both blowout wins that Delano gave out last year. This year will be much different though, due to Wasco’s new head coach in Chad Martinez. With a program turnaround, the game will be much closer and has the potential to be the DHS game of the year.

Week 6| vs. Tulare Western

L — Delano 28, Tulare Western 47

Let’s face it, Tulare Western is going the be the new juggernaut of the EYL. With the sensational talents of Kazmeir Allen and Emoyrie Edwards gone from Tulare Union, Western is free to take the league by storm. Last year, Delano was slaughtered by Western, losing by more than 40 points. This year may be more of the same, with Western taking an early lead in the first half. However, I believe DHS will battle back this time around and display the dominance they have.

Week 7| vs. Tulare Union

L — Delano 24, Tulare Union 31

Tulare Union is no longer stacked with talent. It is not to say they don’t have talent though, they seem to always produce great running backs. It is because of this, I’m sure Union will stick to its usual strategy of simply trying to outscore its opponent to hide the fact it doesn’t have a solid defense. This strategy proves lethal when you have the national leader in rushing touchdowns, so it’ll be interesting to watch them this year. As for the game against Delano, I see Union winning in a close game that can honestly go either way.

Week 8| @Monache

W — Delano 35, Monache 12

Last year, DHS put a beat down on Monache, even though the Tigers played without their star quarterback and starting receiver. The game displayed Monache’s insecurities on the defensive end and displayed all the flaws in the Marauders’ attempt to thwart Delano’s wing-T. Therefore, Delano should take a relatively easy win, one that could be their first in league play.

Week 9| vs. Porterville

W — Delano 24, Porterville 20

The hatred that these schools have for each other is hard to miss. Delano beat Porterville in a nail-biter last season and I expect this season to be more of the same. Last year, Delano was saved by its underclassmen who had breakout games, such as Sergio Gonzalez’s three-touchdown performance or the game-winning pick-six by Arturo Gonzalez. This year’s Porterville squad doesn’t exactly look like the dominant force of the EYL, but they will most certainly battle with DHS to the gritty end.

Week 10| @Mission Oak

W — Delano 34, Mission Oak 12

Honestly, this should be a blowout win for Delano. Mission Oak is coming off an 0-10 season and three straight losing seasons, so the team doesn’t exactly look rebuilt and the only reason that Delano won’t win by 40 is the fact that if they win seven games they’re most likely resting starters for playoffs. But I still think that the second team of DHS can deal quite a bit of damage.

Postseason Prediction

When it comes to Delano, they’ve always been burdened as being the team in Delano that has to take on much better and larger schools in the postseason. In fact, it’s ludicrous that DHS was stuck a whole three divisions higher than a school in the same town with a couple hundred fewer students.

Last year, DHS entered the playoffs as a Division IV team and showed that they can make a postseason run as well. In fact, they used their first playoff game to prove that they could totally dominate lower-division schools by crushing Wasco for the second time in the same season. Delano’s run was only cut short by the dominant Central Valley Christian, a school known for its football program.

Delano High School’s football team this year is filled with experienced players, all of whom have had extensive playing time. The experience gained from last year’s postseason is a huge advantage Delano will have going forward and this experience can lead to Delano’s very first valley ring.

Aidan Joshua Garaygordobil is the DelanoNow sports editor.

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