Head coach: Edgar Mares
18th season at Arvin (62-117-1)
Last season: 2-7 overall; 1-5 SSL
Playoffs: None
History: League championships (9), Section championships (1), State championships (0)
Assistant coaches: Robert Riley, offensive coordinator/offensive line/defensive line; Chris Carlos, defensive coordinator; Richard Crawford, wide receivers/extra point; Ramon Carrillo, defensive backs/kickoff/kickoff return; Vic Garcia, scout defensive coach/punt/punt return.

2018 schedule

Aug. 17 - vs. Highland
Aug. 24 - vs. Foothill
Aug. 31 - at Rosamond
Sept. 7 - at Mira Monte
Sept. 14 - BYE
Sept. 21 - at Kennedy
Sept. 28 - vs. Chavez
Oct. 5 - vs. Shafter
Oct. 12 - at Wasco
Oct. 19 - at McFarland
Oct. 26 - vs. Taft
*SSL game

Top returner

Cesar Garcia, senior, OT/DT - Garcia will be a three-year starter for Arvin and makes his mark on the offensive line. He’s 6-foot-5 and a leader by example for the team.

Key players

David Lopez, senior, DE/OL - A dangerous edge rusher with a high motor.

Angel Garza, senior, QB/S - Has a strong arm and will be stepping into the starting quarterback role.

Manuel Chavez, senior, FB/LB - Quiet but pound-for-pound the toughest player on the team.

Defining feature

One after the other, Arvin offensive tackle Cesar Garcia, defensive end David Lopez and head coach Edgar Mares mentioned teamwork, chemistry and commitment. They’re typical sports cliches, but the three were adamant that those aspects will be the biggest factors in how the season goes.

“It seems like the chemistry between these guys is a little different than it has been in years past,” Mares said. “I think they understand that what we’ve been doing and some of the commitment issues that we’ve had, it’s not gonna pay off on Friday nights.”

Arvin’s gone a combined 7-32 the last four seasons with no more than three wins in a year and a winless campaign in 2016. The lack of commitment by players showed in the Bears’ inability to finish out games the last two years, Mares said.

Garcia and Lopez got to work grooming this group in the offseason and in years past, inviting the incoming players to train in the weightroom with the returning starters instead of casting the new players aside.

“A lot more dedicated, definitely a lot more of a brotherhood going on,” Lopez said of the 2018 team. "Mostly because I think we trained a lot of these guys whenever they were incoming.”

What has changed?

The Bears have to replace their two-year starting quarterback, Chris Contreras. Last year, Contreras threw for 685 yards and five touchdowns. 

Senior Angel Garza will step into the quarterback spot. He has a strong arm and has made strides in the offseason that head coach Edgar Mares is hoping translates to the games.

The team can continue leaning on the ground attack. Carlos Norzagaray returns after scoring 10 of the Bears' 20 touchdowns in 2017. He also rushed for 524 yards and had 330 receiving yards.

At wingback, Gil Medina, Arnie Pantoja, Juan Paredes and others are hoping to contribute as well.

“We’re not gonna be real experienced,” Mares said. “Getting a couple early wins will do a lot for us.”

Mares thinks the South Sequoia League will be more open this year with Bakersfield Christian out of the league and McFarland joining. But he thinks McFarland will still be a tough opponent and that Shafter is the team to beat in the SSL.

“We know that we have some work ahead of us,” Mares said.

One constant within the program is Mares, who enters his 18th season in charge of the Bears.

“I love the community where I’m at," he said. "Obviously I grew up there and I felt like there were some important role models….that really has an impact on my life. I wanted to do the same for the kids out there.”

Jon Mettus can be reached at 661-395-7389. Follow him on Twitter: @jmettus.

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