By Ray Conner
Making football fun again, that is the desire for this year’s Kern Valley varsity football squad.
Head coach Ben Goffinet is back at the helm for the second go around and wants to get the Broncs back to playing Kern Valley football.
There will be newness to the Broncs this season as Goffinet implements his program to return Kern Valley to being a competitive group.
In order to accomplish this feat, the Broncs will have to play one game at a time and convince themselves they are a team to be reckoned with.
After winning the High Desert League in 2015, Kern Valley suffered through two lackluster seasons where they won only one league game. They lost 13 games, while collecting only seven wins overall and 1-6 in the HDL.
This year, Goffinet will lead his troops into battle with a tough non-league schedule of six games and then play four in the HDL. He has high hopes of earning another league title, but would be satisfied if the team played competitive football.
Goffinet coached the Broncs for 10 years before stepping down. He then reacquired the job and will now lead Kern Valley from the sidelines.
He has a game plan in mind on how to get Kern Valley back on the football map. He believes in his coaches and they in turn believe in him to take the Broncs to where he has envisioned them to be.
Goffinet said, “Number one thing is to surround yourself with people you can trust and share your vision. I have nine coaches who I trust to do a job. Instead of trying to tell them what to do, I enable them to figure out what they need to do. So they feel like they are contributing. The kids have to buy in if you have a goal. Wins and losses take care of themselves if you take care of what needs to be taken care of on the team. My blueprint is you respect the kids, they will respect you. You set a goal whatever it is. Small ones first. It’s building and involve them. Let them take ownership.”
This year he will be assisted by Frank Woody, Brent Mixon, Bill Chase, and Bill Gallis. Also helping will be the head jayvee coach Scott Tedrow along with Aaron Lafarga, Robert Hanger, and Ed Overholt. Also giving advice from time to time will be long tenured football coach, Jimmy Thompson.
Currently there are 30 players on the Broncs squad. A reworking of the program starts with a lot of underclassmen infused with the experience of the upperclassmen.
The team consists of 11 seniors, 14 juniors, and five sophomores. Kern Valley returns 13 players from the team last year. The Broncs return eight seniors and five juniors. Of the rest of the 17 players, 11 of them were on the unbeaten jayvee squad last season.
The other six players, three seniors, two juniors, and a sophomore are new to the team this year.
The 13 returning players for the Broncs are seniors Tanner Tito, Adam Virto, Anthony Barton, Jon Forbes, Trever Hurley, Jacob Lightner, Jorge Lopez, and Joe Miller. Returning juniors include, Nick Timms, Brett Grimsby, Kenneth King, Juan Carlos Lopez, and Kenny Porter.
Jayvee players from last season that moved up are senior, Malikye Moore, juniors Davin Lee, Lucas Harris, Zach Goss, Jeffrey Cawein, Ryan Walker, and Damon Sage, sophomores Kaden Preston, Noah Alexander, Blake Kempster, and Vincent Pearman.
New to the team are seniors, Brandon Valdez, Dylan Duncan, and David Gonzalez. Juniors that will be playing for the Broncs their first time are Armando Gastelum and Malaki Seidel. Filling out the team is sophomore Kieran McCarthy.
Goffinet as the coach wants to mold this group of players into a team that works well together. His goal as a coach this season is to instill in his players the right way to become a team.
He said, “This season is a re-dedication to some things that I believe are our core values. Working as a team, building character through picking the right leaders, having the coaches instill the knowledge about the playing of the game rather than the strategy of the game.”
He went on to say, “I just want to see marked improvement every week, especially on offense. This is different, I’ve never seen this here, since I have been here. Best way to put it it’s a fast break offense on the football field. When we get to league we will work our tails off to win that thing.”
His goal for the players is quite similar in that he wants them to improve individually each and every week. With an emphasis on team development.
Goffinet said, “In the past, I think that some of that disappeared, we had a lot of kids in there thinking personal stats are the most important. Thing is they don’t have any say in that. I do say who’s going to get the ball and minutes played.”
Talking on the scrimmage that Kern Valley participated in on Friday, it was revealing for the head coach.
Goffinet took away from that a lot of questions to be answered. He said, “It’s funny, it’s gonna sound bad, but it’s in a good way. It revealed more questions than answers, but in a good way. We saw a lot of potential. A lot of things that really, really looked good and are on just a fine line from being scary good. We saw a lot of passion and the love of playing. Now we have to fit the puzzle. We have 30 plus guys that can contribute in a certain way. Now it’s up to the coaches to put them in the right place.”
Some of the key losses from last year included, Aaron Grimsby and Conrad Miller.
New to the team that can help out are going to be some of the sophomores on the team. According to Goffinet, some of the jayvee players from last year will fit right in to his plans.
With six non-league games during the season, the Broncs will have plenty of time to prepare for their HDL contests.
In the non-league Goffinet wants his troops to stay focused. Keeping them concentrated on their jobs and improvement aspect.
He wants to be able to fine tune the team and be ready for league play.
Goffinet said, “We know we are going to have a growth period. I have a lot confidence in these guys. There’s something brewing here and I want to line up and be disciplined. By Strathmore I want to be dialed in, really confident, and get ready for league.”
Turning to the HDL, Bishop looks to be the team to beat, but there are other teams that may be surprising. So it might be tough to pick a clear favorite in league.
Goffinet commenting on league games said, “Bishop has quite a few returners. Cal City is a crap shoot every year. If they line 11 athletes you just never know. Boron is low on numbers, and Rosamond has to deal with a lot of changes.”
Three weeks into the season the Broncs strength currently looks to be their running game and the athleticism of the players on the squad.
Goffinet said, “I think we will be able to run the ball pretty well. I think we are going to be punishing running team out of the spread. Our athleticism is one of our strengths. We not only have a handful of good athletes, we have another handful of good athletes that can replace those athletes. Lots and lots of depth, especially on offense. Our seniors are hungry who want their senior year to be special.”
On the flip side, the areas that need work for the Broncs according to Goffinet is they need improvement up front. He thinks he has the horses, but they need technical fine tuning. He thinks that his team needs situational knowledge. Down and distance, lining up, and jumping off side. That’s the stuff his team needs to keep improving on.
Another area that might need some work for the Broncs is the conditioning to run the offense that Goffinet is planning to run. It might take a while to get them into the shape they need to be in.
He stated, “Without spending a lot of time on extra conditioning.”
In closing Goffinet said, “It’s awesome the amount of support that is coming out of the community for the football team and our staff. We’ve had parents come up asking, ‘What do you need? What can I help with?’ The community is excited about this group of kids. I think that’s awesome. It’s different even now than it was before in terms of the excitement for Kern Valley football. It’s a blessing to know that you live in a community where everybody cares. Football makes a difference. How you start, not wins and losses, but attitude. If the football players have a terrible attitude coming into school, often times the school has a rough year. It’s been overwhelming humbling.”
With everything in position, it comes down to actually playing the game. This will start Friday when they go to Taft. Don’t be surprised if the Broncs and the coaching staff make this a season that could possibly be memorable.