Head coach: Brett Shelton
Fifth season at Stockdale (14-27)
Last season: 2-8 overall; 0-5 SWYL
Playoffs: None
History: League titles (4), Section titles (0)
Assistant coaches: Erich Smith, offensive coordinator; Jarudd Prosser, linebackers/wide receivers/special teams; David Hall, offensive line/defensive line; Ben Ossai, offensive line.

2018 schedule

Aug. 17 - at Ridgeview
Aug. 24 - vs. Clovis
Aug. 31 - at Atascadero
Sept. 7 - at Independence
Sept. 14 - at Fresno-Sunnyside
Sept. 21- BYE
Sept. 28 - vs. Bakersfield*
Oct. 5 - at Centennial*
Oct. 12 - vs. Liberty*
Oct. 19 - at Frontier*
Oct. 26 - vs. Garces*
*SWYL game

Top returner

Evan Burkhart, senior, SB/DB - Burkhart is dangerous each time he touches the ball. The slotback led Stockdale with seven touchdowns last season. A top option even though the offense will share the wealth.

Key players

Brandon Dunn, senior, WR/DB - A precise route runner, consistent performer and team leader.

Tanner Williford, senior, TE/DE - Tall yet athletic and physical enough to play tight end, slot and outside receiver with good hands to boot.

Tucker Arias, junior, G/DT - 6-foot-2, 295 pounds and strong with good feet

Defining feature

Stockdale head coach Brett Shelton knows that football is often like a chess match, and he has a new, “highly intelligent” offensive coordinator in control of the Mustangs’ pieces, bringing different ideas and attitudes to squad.

First-year Stockdale assistant Erich Smith, who spent the previous 11 seasons as head coach at Golden Valley, has brought along a spread-the-field and spread-the-ball-around approach.

“Very adaptable offensive scheme for what we have,” Shelton said. “We’ve got a lot of burners. Exciting year.”

Stockdale has a faster, smaller team this year and the offense is going to play to that, junior slotback Evan Burkhart said. It’s more dynamic, added receiver Brandon Dunn, and eliminates the idea of a favorite target.

“As long as we win games, we’ll be fine,” Dunn said. “There’s a lot of people that really want the ball a lot, but you just gotta do whatever it takes to get the win.”

Smith will be tasked with improving on the 12 points per game Stockdale managed in league play last season and, ideally, an improvement from the zero wins and five losses will happen as a result.

What has changed

The addition of new offensive coordinator Erich Smith is the biggest change for the Mustangs. He’s revamped the offense, is able to adjust on a whim and communicates well with the players, according to head coach Brett Shelton.

“He’s something special and I’m excited that he’s joined the old dark side at Stockdale,” Shelton said.

Graduation took away starting quarterback Jalen Smith, running back/linebacker Nick Maiden, receiver/cornerback Stephen Renock and receiver/line backer Walter Bryant — all key pieces to the team a season ago.

Junior Joseph Hess and senior Adrian Herrera are in a “true quarterback battle,” Shelton said, and “every (repetition) is critical because they’re trying to win a spot.”

Shelton actually takes that approach with every player and position on the team.

“We want massive amounts of reps and we want you to fail so you learn immediately,” Shelton said, “whereas some coaches, they just talk a little too much.”

The coaches have dug into the offensive linemen, increasing intensity and the emphasis on the position group this season. Shelton added former Stockdale, University of Washington, AFL and CFL lineman Ben Ossai to work with the group.

What Stockdale hopes will change is its string of eight consecutive losing seasons since 2009.

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

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