Head coach: Dennis Manning
10th season at Ridgeview (86-33) 17th season overall (117-69-1)
Last season: 6-5 overall; 4-1 SYL
Playoffs: Lost in Central Section Division I first round
History: League titles (8); Section titles (3)
Assistant coaches: Ahmad Moya, special team/running backs; Ricky Carter, defensive coordinator; Steve Tucker, offensive coordinator; Jerome Williams, defensive line; Nate Odle, offensive line; Andrew Brown, receivers

2018 schedule

Aug. 17 - vs. Stockdale
Aug. 24 - at Liberty
Aug. 31 - at Frontier
Sept. 7 - vs. Bakersfield
Sept. 14 - vs. Clovis North
Sept. 21- BYE
Sept. 28 - at Golden Valley*
Oct. 5 - vs. West*
Oct. 12 - at Bakersfield Christian*
Oct. 19 - vs. Tehachapi*
Oct. 26 - at Independence*
*SYL game

Top player

Tahj Wright, senior, QB/WR/DB - The transfer from Bakersfield High will bring a whole new level of athleticism to Ridgeview. A standout cornerback, Wright was also the top receiver at BHS. He will likely play a larger role at quarterback this fall, however, to keep the ball in his hands.

Key standouts

Daelin Degraffenreid, senior, WR/DB - Big-bodied and fast, Degraffenreid showed the ability to be a long ball threat and steady target in the pass game while being a shutdown corner.

Alijah Alexander-Williams, junior, RB - Heading into his second full year as a starter, with his speed and size combo Alexander-Williams could become one of the top running backs in the section.

Jaali Burres, senior, OL/DL - Long and athletic, Burres led Ridgeview with seven sacks a season ago and his bigger frame this fall will be a problem for opposing defenses.

Defining feature

After six consecutive trips to the Central Section championships, yielding three titles in Divisions III and II combined, the Wolf Pack were ousted in the D-I opening round last season at Clovis.

With obvious talent on the field during fall camp, the scenario of Ridgeview not advancing in the playoffs seems more like an anomaly than the norm entering 2018.

With the emergence of returning starters like Alijah Alexander-Williams (740 rushing yards), Daelin Degraffenreid (649 receiving yards), Jaali Burres (11 sacks) and Justin Hinzo (1,624 pass yards), things are pointed in the right direction.

“They are hard workers and they are good kids and want to be competitive at the highest level,” head coach Dennis Manning said. “You have to have some skill to win at this level, there is no question. But we have the skill and now it's just a matter of when we put it together.”

With the addition of Tahj Wright, a transfer from Bakersfield High, and Anthony Ramirez, a transfer from West, the talent is all over the field for Ridgeview once again, but there is a defining change to the team this fall.

“We’ve got a lot of kids returning,” Manning said. “It’s difficult I think for kids to go out as sophomores and start and really understand to win and lead and all those little things you need to be a really good football team … It’s tougher at this level and we need to up our game.”

But the talent level is there once again, and Wright's versatility as a quarterback, running back and/or receiver will make it hard for defenses to key on one player.

“It’s very exciting because a lot of teams, they ain’t going to know what we are doing,” Wright said.

What has changed?

The amount of future NCAA Division I football talent on Ridgeview's roster over the better part of the last decade has few rivals in Kern County during that time frame.

However, in 2017, the talent was simply raw and young. It needed time to develop.

“We got better as the season went on,” Manning said. “We just weren’t consistent. That’s the thing with experience and teams that are successful, they are consistent every week.”

With a year of game experience under this team's belt, Manning’s expectations seem to be higher after a six win season in 2017. Last year was also the first time Ridgeview failed to win a playoff game since Manning took over the program in 2009.

“We were young at almost every position (in 2017),” Manning said. “Our skill level is good.”

He’s not alone — the players feel the change as well.

“Coming from last year where we ended where we didn’t want to, it gives us a fire to come back stronger than we were last year,” senior lineman Jacob Zavala said. “It gave us all motivation for this year because we were so young and now we can come back and get further than we did last year.”

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