Head coach: A.J. Gass
Fourth season at Garces (14-20); Sixth season overall (24-33)
Last season: 5-7 overall, 4-1 SWYL
Playoffs: Lost in Central Section D-II semifinals
History: League titles (23); Section titles (10)
Assistant coaches: Cody Kekipi (offensive coordinator/associate head coach); Erik Duncan (defensive line); Mike Ortiz (offensive line); Chris Sacchini (wide receivers); Pete Hernandez (defensive backs); Shannon Edwards (defensive backs); Mike Cooper (linebackers)
Aug. 17 - vs. Bakersfield Christian
Aug. 24 - Bellflower-St. John Bosco
Aug. 31 - at Santa-Maria-St. Joseph
Sept. 8 - vs. Fresno-San Joaquin Memorial (Saturday)
Sept. 14 - vs. Tehachapi
Sept. 21- BYE
Sept. 28 - vs. Frontier*
Oct. 5 - at Bakersfield*
Oct. 12 - vs. Centennial*
Oct. 19 - at Liberty*
Oct. 26 - at Stockdale*
Joseph Campbell, junior, quarterback - He throws a nice deep ball and came on strong down the stretch of last season. Campbell has some nice targets in the passing game, and could be poised to pick up where he left off.
Isaiah Bell, junior, WR - An emerging player in the passing game. Standing at about 6-feet tall, 170 pounds he has good quickness and looks to be a big-play threat in the Garces offense.
Kaden Uribe, senior, DL - A versatile player up front who can play all four positions along the defensive line.
Nick Sill, senior, safety - He can cover, tackle and play close to the line of scrimmage. Combines with Isaac Bowers to form a nice safety combo for the Rams.
Quarterback Joseph Campbell returns after starting as a sophomore last season. He looks be flanked by some effective pass catchers as well.
Watch out for junior wide receiver Isaiah Bell, who had a strong showing in seven-on-seven offseason workouts and looks poised to break out as a big-play receiver.
“He’s got some very good speed, he’s a pretty clean route runner. Loves to compete, which is a huge bonus,” said head coach A.J. Gass. “He gives us a deep threat we really didn’t have until the second half of last year. We’re going to utilize him a little bit more.”
Said Bell, “I’m probably the fastest receiver out there. I had a lot of seven-on-seven, did really well there. I have a good quarterback to put the ball where I need it to be.”
Gass also pointed to senior wide receiver Collin Rankin as a likely breakout candidate.
The head coach added he likes his safety combination of Nick Sill and Isaac Bowers, and pointed to depth along the defensive line as an area of strength.
Don’t overlook the kicker position, either. Peter Delis holds many of the program’s major records (field goals in a season, field goals in a game, longest field goal). He’s also clutch — who could forget his 33-yard field goal to down BHS last year on the game’s final play?
Delis can hurt the opposition in multiple ways — as the team’s starting kicker, punter and cornerback.
What has changed?
Replacing ball carrier Isaiah Martin — a bruising back who punished defenses last season (1,578 yards rushing and eight touchdowns) — is the obvious question mark.
“In high school football, if you can run the ball you’re going to win a lot of games,” Gass pointed out. “That’s the hard part about losing an Isaiah Martin.”
The plan at the outset of camp was for Nick Tobias to take over lead-back duties. Without Martin, the running game will change schematically, Gass said.
The head coach added, “We’ll see what Joseph Campbell can do throwing the ball.”
The Rams also lose their three top pass catchers from a season ago in Lebrevon Austin, Zachary Hebbard and Austin Giggy.
Still, the team is high on Isaiah Bell and Collin Rankin as targets in the passing game.
While Gass said the Rams lost some legitimate pieces who did good things a season ago, the head coach was also quick to add, “I don’t think the cupboards are as bare as they might look on paper.”
It’s on the head coach — a former player at Fresno State and a 10-year veteran in the Canadian Football League — to make the pieces fit once again.
“That’s what coaches do. Make due with what we got,” Gass said. “And again, I like what we have.”