DP Football Preview: Chargers look to maintain high standards

Last year’s star-studded senior class set a standard of success for Dos Pueblos football, winning a share of the Channel League title in coach Nate Mendoza’s first year at the helm

Now it’s up to the following groups to maintain that standard.

“They see what the seniors did last year,” Mendoza said of this year’s group of players. “They laid the foundation for us. We’re really trying to build a winning program and a winning tradition year after year. (This year’s seniors) saw what the seniors did last year and are ready to build on it.”

The Chargers are building with a smaller group of seniors, but they’re skilled and talented. Leading the group is quarterback Leshon Bell, a dual threat with his legs and arm.

“He’ll bring a different level of play for us,” said of Mendoza of the shifty, speedy Bell, the son of former NFL running back Greg Bell.

Bell has a big, athletic passing target in 6-4 senior Matt Sessler, who is also a standout volleyball player.

David Blevins and Tyler Welch will lineup behind Bell in the backfield. Welch, an all-league safety, is looking forward to playing tailback.

“Hopefully, I’ll carry the rock really well,” he said.

The hard-hitting Blevins returns as fullback and will spearhead the defense at middle linebacker. He’s confident the Chargers’ offense will make things happen.

“LeShon is going to hold it down and our line will step up. I trust them,” he said.

Liam Stimson provides experience and leadership on the offensive line. He said the key for the line’s success this season is making the newcomers comfortable, so they work as unit.

Mendoza is impressed with the work rate of the newcomers.

“What’s great about this year is the junior class is really pushing the senior class,” he said. “You like that, you like the competitive nature you get at practice. It will help the team gel.”

The newcomers who are expected to make an immediate impact include 6-2, 250-pound sophomore tackle Eric Botello, sophomore receiver/defensive back Austin Pearce, junior cornerback/running back Angel Davison, linebacker/fullback Michael Botello and running back/safety Alfonso Ponce de Leon.

Mendoza said the strengths of the team are at defensive line and receiving corps.

“We have some big receivers. We’re probably going to pass more than we did last, but we definitely won’t go away from the run,” said Mendoza.

Having worked with the players for a full year, Mendoza is eager to seeing what the new players can do on Friday nights.

“They’re a green group as far as playing time goes,” he said. “They put in a lot of time during the offseason. I’m excited to see what they’re going to do on the field.”

Mendoza said there are three goals the program has set for itself: “We want to compete in every game we play. That’s our first goal, to be competitive in every game; the wins will take care of themselves.

“Of course, winning the Channel League title, that’s got to be our goal every year. That’s got to be what we’re striving for every year,” he stressed. “The third goal is we want to practice on Thanksgiving morning. If you make to Thanksgiving morning, you’ve moved past the first round of the playoffs.

“We hope to accomplish all thee of our goals.”