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New schemes have Frogs hopeful in ‘14

Jesse Jones / Union Democrat Bret Harte senior running back Logan Lowe charges upfield on a carry during practice last week. JESSE JONES / UNION DEMOCRAT
Bret Harte didn’t find much success on the gridiron last year, but that had more to do with execution and the Bullfrogs instability at the most important position on the football team.

The Bullfrogs started two quarterbacks and were never able to find an established signal-caller until late in the year.

Jake Bailey took over the reins at quarterback after a player quit mid-season in 2013, and showed promise, but he graduated this summer.

Head coach Jon Byrnes, who is entering his second year, will be hand over the keys to the Bullfrog offense to Michael Ziehlke, a 6-foot-4, 165-pound junior.

Over 600 Dillashaw fans heading to UFC 177

A strong contingent of family, friends and fans will make the two-hour trip to Sacramento to support UFC bantamweight champ and Angels Camp native TJ Dillashaw.

The 28-year-old Bret Harte Bullfrog graduate will defend his title on Aug. 30 against top contender Renan Barao in the main event at UFC 177: Dillashaw vs. Barao II at Sleep Train Arena.

Champs ready for another run

Jesse Jones / Union Democrat Calaveras senior Connor Hamilton eyes a pass during practice last week at Frank Meyer Field.

For The Union Democrat

For Calaveras Redskins seventh-year head coach Jason Weatherby, the 2014 football season will begin in a way he has yet to experience in his coaching career. 

When the Skins take the field Friday night in Stockton to face the McNair Eagles, they will do so as outright defending Mother Lode League champions. 

If Calaveras expects to repeat as MLL champions, they will have to rely on a few seasoned seniors, and a large group of talented juniors.

Calaveras is replacing 20 graduating members of the 2013 team, and the junior class is stepping up and accepting the challenge.

“The juniors on the team have really come a long way over the summer,” Weatherby said. “I don’t feel like they are behind because they made such positive strides in camp.” 

Bears gridder aiming for postseason

Jesse Jones / Union Democrat Summerville’s Humphrey Quirie makes a reception at practice Thursday.
The Summerville Bears football team won only two games in 2013.

That win total was the squad’s lowest since 2007 — head coach Ben Watson’s second year in charge.

But with Summerville returning key impact players, including first-team 2013 All-Mother Lode League performers Bryce Farrell and Jake Fulkerson, the Bears are in better position to turn things around.

“I think we have the potential to compete every single week and do well,” Watson said. “I think we have an opportunity to make playoffs — but having said that — it’s going to take the very best that we have to offer. We’re not going to be able to take plays off and just show up. It’s going to be a very difficult goal to attain. I firmly believe it can be done, but it’s going to take commitment, dedication and the willingness to prepare and work hard every week.”

Bird hunting seasons near; Bill could raise waterfowl stamp price

With the first of the bird hunting seasons coming up Sept. 1, hunters tracking fast flying doves on private lands must legally obtain written permission to hunt in such areas. 

For those without those options, there are public areas open in Merced County, much of which is in the Los Banos Complex. 

For more information, go to www.losbanoscomplex.com or call 209-826-0463.  

Waterfowl hunters may soon be paying more for their Federal Migratory Bird Hunting stamp.

Wildcat runners begin new chapter

Jesse Jones / Union Democrat Sonora Wildcat runners (above, from left) Thomas Kruetzfeldt, Paul Mika and Shaan French Jr. warmup during Wednesday’s practice at Dunlavy Field.
Steven Grolle’s ridiculously fast pace will be missed this season,  but a new chapter has begun for the Sonora Wildcats cross country team.

For the first time in four years, the Wildcats will field a girls’ team that could compete immediately for a Mother Lode League title and  the boys return a solid core that helped reach the Sac-Joaquin Section finals last season.

The irreplaceable Grolle, who finished eighth and medaled at last year’s Division IV CIF State Cross Country Championships, graduated this summer.

Filling the void of the a two-time Sac-Joaquin Section champ, will be an experienced trio of runners: Shaan French Jr., Thomas Kruetzfeldt and Paul Mika.

“Frenchy has been looking good and working hard all summer,” said Sonora Wildcats coach Glenn Bass. “He also ran a great race at Pinecrest (Aug. 10). Thomas has looked good too as has Paul Mika.”

Character-Based Athletics seminar set for Sept. 6

The Summerville High Softball Boosters will present Character Based Athletics onSaturday, Sept. 6, at the school’s Connections Theater in Tuolumne.

Rob Miller, of Proactive Coaching and Miller Sports Consulting in Liberty, Mo., will be the featured speaker.

There will be three, one-hour presentations for parents, athletes and coaches at 2,3:30 and 5 p.m., respectively.

“The benefit all athletes should take from playing high school sports is an increase in their characters,” said Summerville varsity softball assistant coach Ray Emerald in a release. “The act of participating in sports should teach lessons that will be used in all aspects of life. Things like teamwork, responsibility, accountability, selflessness and honesty are all traits we look for in quality employees, teachers, doctors, lawyers and business owners. This is the time of their lives that these traits will be learned for our student-athletes.”

Wildcats face rival Mustangs on Aug. 29

In just nine days, the Sonora Wildcat football team will square off against its longtime rival, the Oakdale Mustangs, for the 97th time.

That’s right, just nine days, on Aug. 29. The game has traditionally been played on the final week of the schedule. But due to Sonora exiting the Valley Oak League for the Mother Lode League this season, the schools agreed to open their respective schedules against each other. It’s also the earliest the Cats will kickoff a season.

“It’s different, really different,” said Wildcat head coach Bryan Craig during Tuesday’spractice. “Oakdale is always in the back of your mind throughout the season, because you know they’re Game 10 and it’s a big rivalry. But having them early, it’s a weird feeling that I haven’t grasped yet. But we’ve been preparing for them since last week. A lot of the stuff we’re doing is based on what they do trying to get ready for that zero week game. This is the first year we’ve had a zero week game and we want to make sure we go in prepared.”

Frog gridders enter year 2 under Byrnes

Jesse Jones / Union Democrat Bret Harte varsity head football coach Jon Brynes speaks to his players during the Bullfrogs’ first padded practice of the season Wednesday in Angels Camp.
It is year two of the Jon Byrnes era at Bret Harte High School.

After a tough 1-9 season in 2013, the Bullfrogs football team is hungry for success.

“We’ve had great practices so far this week without having any equipment on,” Byrnes said. “We’ve had complete focus at all levels. They’re a little bit more hungry for a win.”

Craig on cutting edge to help prevent concussions

It’s no secret the Sonora Wildcats like to play a hard-nosed, physical brand of football. That style won’t change this season under sixth-year head coach Bryan Craig.

What will change, is that Craig will know exactly what kind of helmet impact some of his Wildcats are delivering, or taking, and can take steps accordingly to protect them. When it comes to concussions and his players well-being, Craig wants to stay ahead of the curve. 

“We know for this game to continue, to be what it is, we have to get that head out of the game and we have to protect the players better,” Craig said. “We have to get concussions out of the game or we won’t have football. So we’re trying to get out front and lead that charge.”

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