Head coach: George Falgout
Fourth season at Taft (17-15); fifth season overall (18-25)
Last season: 2-7 overall, 2-4 SSL
Playoffs: None
History: League titles (11); Section titles (3)
Assistant coaches: Leo Maino Sr., offensive line; Leo Maino Jr., linebackers; Hunter Lileroos, quarterbacks; Bob Scovel, defensive line; Rob Carlson, linebackers; Terrance Howell, defensive line; Jamil Iakopo, defensive backs; Cody McCaleb, defensive backs; Tony Lopez, special teams; Les Clark, offensive line/defensive line

2018 schedule

Aug. 17 - vs. Kern Valley
Aug. 24 - vs. California City
Aug. 31 - at Tehachapi
Sept. 7 - vs. Coalinga
Sept. 14 - vs Kennedy*
Sept. 21- at Shafter*
Sept. 28 - BYE
Oct. 5 - vs. McFarland*
Oct. 12 - at Chavez*
Oct. 19 - vs. Wasco*
Oct. 26 - at Arvin*
*SSL game

Top returner

Jordan Miranda, senior, RB/ILB - A reserve running back in 2017, Miranda will be the focal point for the wing-T offense and the starting middle linebacker on defense. A hard hitter who has shown a knack for finding holes in the run game.

Key players

Alex Garcia, senior, FB - Converted defensive tackle will be utilized as a sixth offensive lineman at fullback.

Brett Walls, junior, wing - Fast with a good eye for the ball. Will be utilized plenty in the run-first offense.

Bryson Ginn, senior, OL/DL - Leader of the offensive and defensive line is also the vocal captain for the Wildcats.

Defining feature

Now in his fourth season at Taft, head coach George Falgout feels this program is right where it’s supposed to be.

After a 2017 referred to by the current staff and players as a year of bad chemistry, the Wildcats are leaning on a senior class that has spent four years in the same system under Falgout.

“They have shown so much change from Day 1 starting out back in January in the weight room,” Falgout said. “We are light years from last year. Last year was not a good year.”

In more ways than one. There was talent abound but, as Falgout says, there was chemistry issue with a handful of players affecting the bond of the team as Taft went 2-7 and missed the playoffs.

“They way these guys are interacting, showing leadership and talking, it shows a great sign of how they have bought into the system and how things are ran by the coaches,” Falgout said of this year's group. “I think it’s going to be good for us with what we have going with our senior class.”

The run-heavy offense for Taft will rely on first-year starter Jordan Miranda at tailback and Alex Garcia will move from defensive line to fullback.

What’s changed?

In 2015, George Falgout’s first season as the head coach at Taft, the Wildcats were running wild and having fun.

“What worked for us back then was we kept things in a basic way,” Falgout said. “Our kids didn’t have to think, they just needed to react. Then we got away from what we are all about. This year will be a lot like year-one.”

Then came 2017 where the positivity inside and out of the locker room was strained.

Falgout admits that he's scaled down the playbook to help his players get back to what worked well in the beginning of his tenure.

Add that to a positive outlook entering the new season, and Falgout believes the changes — including the additions of four new coaches to his staff — are for the better.

“It’s a proven fact that if you overflow something with positivity, you are going to get great results,” Falgout said. “Our challenge this year will help clear the woes of last year.”

With leaders like Bryson Ginn on the offensive and defensive line, the seniors have taken it upon themselves to make sure the problems in 2017 are gone.

“Last year we had big expectations and couldn’t handle the pressure,” Ginn said. “Now we are moving forward and getting better.”

Added Falgout: “It’s proven so far that it’s changed and it’s no longer there. That fires us up as coaches because these kids understand that to get back on track, we need zero selfishness and play together.”

Trevor Horn can be reached at (661) 395-7374. Follow him on Twitter: @trevhorn.

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