I still can’t believe it, but fall sports are nearly hereFree Access




Summer is a treasured time for sportswriters, at least at small, local newspapers like the Gazette.

It’s a time to relax a little bit after the grind of covering an entire school year’s worth of sports. I won’t lie, it’s been a nice little break for me.

But don’t get it twisted.

As a sportswriter, I also love getting a piece of the action, and when sports start back up, it’s always an exciting time.

Here are a few of the reasons I’m excited for fall sports to begin at Mariposa County High School:

1. Can the volleyball team rebound? It’s been a few years since the netters at MCHS have made the playoffs. The team finished 10-11 overall last season. The start of a new season always brings hopefulness and optimism. I’m hoping the team can improve upon its last few seasons, and I’m sure it will. I’m anxious to see what coach Debbie Leonard has up her sleeve to return the team to contending for a league crown.

2. Friday night lights. Fall is that glorious time of year when football takes over our lives. When you combine the pro, college and high school contests, that means games on Sundays, Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. I love the high school football games. Crisp air, hard hitting action. What more could you ask for? I would literally sell one of my kidneys in exchange for football being played year round.

3. The return of football coach Ryan Oliphant. Coach O has returned to the sidelines for MCHS as the offensive coordinator for both the JV and varsity football teams. Oliphant took a year off last season, and the offense suffered without his guidance (it didn’t help that injuries crippled the team, either). The biggest point total in any single game for Mariposa last year was 21, and the Grizzlies sputtered to a 2-8 finish. In no way am I trying to disparage the coaching staff from last season, but my point is that Oliphant brings experience, and has proven his teams can put points on the board. I really think he’ll help bring some stability to the teams at MCHS.

4. The return of Logan Donati. The star running back at MCHS is one of the most exciting players to watch. Twice I’ve seen him literally leap over oncoming defenders, like a hurdler. And it looked like he barely had to try to clear them. Unfortunately, he got injured right at the get-go last season, and he should be back this year for his senior finale. In Oliphant’s offense, I could see Donati being used in a variety of ways out of the backfield.

5. The food pyramid for sportswriters. For a sportswriter, the base of their food pyramid is made out of nachos, pizza, tri-tip and hot dogs. Those are the core foods that fuel us. The next level is candy bars, chips and peanuts. The final level is soda and Gatorade. I’ll be hitting up the concession stands at MCHS games to support the high school. I usually get pizza at the volleyball games and nachos at the football games.

Matt Johnson is assistant editor of the Mariposa Gazette and can be reached at matt@mariposagazette.com.

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