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Golden Valley football preview: Bulldogs begin new season with clean slate

Head coach: Josh Bocker
First season at Stockdale
Last season: 3-7 overall; 1-4 SYL
Playoffs: None
History: League titles (3), Section titles (0)
Assistant coaches: Raul Rodriguez, defensive coordinator/defensive backs; George San Miguel, quarterbacks; Jordan Calderon, offensive line; Todd Preston, defensive line; Marcus Bruley, wide receivers; Dimas Reza, offensive line; Dustin Wilkins, linebackers.

2018 schedule

Aug. 17 - at East
Aug. 24 - at Centennial
Aug. 31 - vs. South
Sept. 7 - vs. Santa Maria
Sept. 14 - at Highland
Sept. 21 - BYE
Sept. 28 - vs. Ridgeview*
Oct. 5 - at Independence*
Oct. 12 - vs. Tehachapi*
Oct. 19 - at West*
Oct. 26 - vs. Bakersfield Christian*
*SYL game

Top returner

Jacob Ringgold, senior, RB/DB - Ringgold is a high-motor running back with good footwork. A right leg injury kept him out of all but three games in 2017, motivating him even more for his senior year.

Key players

Ronnie Simril, junior, WR/DB - The team’s top returner in rushing and receiving yards, who has shifty moves in the open field.

Jason Fair, junior, S - A newcomer but a naturally instinctive safety.

Riley Dickey, junior, OL/DL - The team’s rock on the line, who is consistent and strong.

Defining feature

Wins and losses are sometimes overrated, according to new Golden Valley coach Josh Bocker, so that won’t be how he evaluates the season.

“If we see growth and we see buy in, that’s a successful season,” Bocker said. “If I can improve these young men’s lives then we are gonna be successful.”

Only being on the job for about a month before the start of fall camp, Bocker had to make quick work of getting that buy in. That boiled down to team building activities, giving his players rides and lifting weights with them.

“I can relate to them,” said the 24-year-old coach. “I play Fortnite just like they do. I watch the current game of football. I’m still single so I get to talk to them about girls and stuff so that’s pretty awesome. But it’s just been fun trying to bond with these guys because we’re so close in age and we all know what we want.”

His imprint on the field will mean a shotgun offense that runs the ball a good amount. The defense will be an aggressive one that flies to the ball. Bocker knows installing a system takes time, but insists that once he gets the “buy in” from his players, it’ll be like he’s been at Golden Valley for years.

What has changed?

What has stayed the same would be a shorter list. The Bulldogs lost their head coach, their star athlete (Carl Jones, who transferred to Bakersfield High) and a bunch of seniors.

Only two of the eight players that recorded rushing yards (Ronnie Simril and Jacob Ringgold) last season are back. Just three of the seven that caught passes in 2017 (Simril, Donovan Valdovinos and Adrian Hodges) are on the 2018 roster.

“We got some good talent,” Simril, a receiver, said of the 2018 group. “We got like two seniors, our quarterback, Robert, and our running back, Jacob. (Ringgold is) good, he’s really out here teaching us stuff. We’ve got some good skill players.”

Robert Figueroa, who did not play last season, is the favorite to win the starting quarterback job. Ringgold played just three games in 2017 because of a right leg injury, so he wants to make up for lost time.

The Bulldogs also added Dwayne Dickerson, a highly motivated linebacker who did not play last year but has the ability to be an “elite” high school player, according to Golden Valley head coach Josh Bocker.

“I think he’s gonna surprise a lot of people this year,” Bocker said.

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

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