Fresh starts abound as Modesto’s Beyer, Davis and Johansen gear for WAC season

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Beyer athletic director and head football coach Doug Severe said “it’s a good thing” for his school’s overall athletic program with its move to the Western Athletic Conference.

“We had a few sports that could compete in the old MMC (Modesto Metro Conference) and do well,” Severe said. “Some of our sports struggle more so … Overall I think it’s a better move for our school… minus the travel.”

Competitive equity was a major reason for moving the three former MMC teams into the WAC.

While Beyer generally held its own in football, Davis and Johansen struggled in a league alongside Gregori, Downey, Modesto and Enochs.

Those latter four schools were joined by Turlock and Pitman to form the Division II Central California Athletic League.

Is it better to be playing the school down the street that’s much better or travel to somebody who looks more like you?

That is the question CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Assistant Commissioner Will DeBoard said came up a lot when working on the final details for the new WAC, a Division IV league.

“The realignment process takes a couple of years,” DeBoard said.” We look at competitive equity, the number of levels that are offered, and school enrollment. The one thing we do not look at is travel.”

For Beyer and the other new WAC members residing along Highway 99 (Davis, Johansen and Ceres), the travel will be at least 45 minutes and up to an hour to most of the other schools in the league.

Los Banos and Pacheco are in Merced County about 45 miles away, and Lathrop and Mountain House are in San Joaquin County, about 25 and 35 miles away, respectively.

Severe’s team, which opens against former MMC rival Enochs on Aug. 17, is coming off a 5-5 season. And it hasn’t been the best summer for the Patriots.

“It’s been rough,” Severe said. “We don’t have a whole lot of numbers. We are trying to have all three levels and we have about 32 varsity right now, on a good day 20 JV and about 24 freshman. Our numbers are struggling right now football-wise but we are going to try and put all three levels on the field.”

The Patriots finished 5-1 in back-to-back years in the MMC before struggling to a 3-3 league record last year. Severe said the team to beat is Los Banos. The Tigers finished second in the WAC last year behind Patterson and return senior running back Antonio Lopez, who rushed for 1,318 yards and 16 touchdowns last year.

Patterson, along with Central Valley of Ceres, moved out of the WAC and into the Merced County-loaded Central California Conference, a Division III league.

Meanwhile, the wild card in the WAC could be Davis.

“I believe Davis is really on the uprise,” Severe said. “They have a good solid program in Coach (Tim) Garcia.”

There is a lot of optimism around the Spartans’ program.

“Its nice,” Garcia said. “Its a new beginning. Our enrollment is up. The kids are excited. I think competitive equity wise, it’s going to be a really good move for us and we are really looking forward to a new start, some new blood, and starting some new rivalries.”

After going 3-7 last year, the Spartans return senior quarterback Xavier Rodriguez. Perhaps, though, their biggest off-season acquisition was bringing in legendary Central Catholic coach Mike Glines as defensive coordinator.

“Anytime you get a legend like him involved in the program, he is going to have a huge following,” Garcia said. “People that played for him and people that know him are obviously going to come out and support and see what we are all about. We are trying to prepare to do the best we can.”

In addition to Glines, Garcia said the program has added more assistant coaches.

“The kids are definitely going to be prepared for Friday nights, better than they have been in the past,” Garcia said.

Johansen has won two games in the past four years and Ceres will look to improve off of last year’s 3-7 record.

The WAC season begins on Sept. 14.

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