The 2019 Patterson High varsity football season is a year of seconds for the program.

To begin, this fall will be the second year the Tigers participate in the Central California Conference.

Patterson finished their inaugural season in the CCC with a 4-2 league record for third place in the conference behind Merced (6-0) and Buhach Colony (5-1). Patterson’s only league losses were to the leaders of the conference.

Now in year two since joining the CCC, head coach Rob Cozart and company hope to improve on the third-place finish from last season. Cozart shared that his team’s experience during a tough 2018 schedule has yielded the fruit of confidence heading into 2019.

“The experience aspect for us is the biggest part. That hardened us a lot,” Cozart said.

Ultimately the head coach wants his team to just take each phase of the season in stride, and worry about the bigger picture as the season develops.

“We just put so much emphasis on week by week. The goal of using our preseason to get better for league, win a league championship, get to the playoffs and see what happens.”

Also heading into his second year of taking on the difficult task of manning the position of quarterback at the varsity level is junior Logan McCleery.

McCleery was thrown into the fire last season, and he held his own.

McCleery was asked to lead the Tigers’ maiden voyage into the CCC not only as a sophomore, but in his first year at the varsity level and second year taking on the sport at all (McCleery began playing contact football for the first time as a freshman).

His first varsity season yielded a total of 1,726 passing yards, good for fourth-most in Stanislaus County in 2018, and a second team all-league selection in the CCC.

Cozart shared that McCleery entering his second year with experience and more maturity will be a huge asset for the young quarterback.

“He’s making throws we didn’t see at all last year whether it be in practice or in games,” Cozart said. “He’s communicating with receivers more than ever. He’s got a good rapport with them. They stay after for about ten to fifteen minutes just working on little things here and there, ball placement on certain routes to certain people. There’s a maturity level that’s increased and confidence that comes with that experience. We’re expecting big things, just like we did last year.”

Joining McCleery offensively for his second year at the varsity level is running back Jordan Imada.

Imada was called up to the varsity level as a sophomore last year. The sturdy Imada rushed for 1,085 yards on 187 carries for 16 touchdowns in 2018.

Cozart explained that Imada was brought up the same time as Logan McCleery by design. The coaching staff wanted to pair the duo together for the remainder of their time at Patterson High in order to help with their familiarity with one another and in turn enhance Patterson’s ability to run the option.

Another year of seasoning combined with an experienced offensive line could yield dividends for the Tigers this fall. Cozart praised his offensive line, and credited them as a strength heading into the 2019 campaign.

“They have the most experience on the team, and they work really hard and take a lot to heart, in terms of their craft in terms of being better in the trenches,” Cozart said.

The core of the Patterson line will be highlighted by brothers Logan and Boss Foumai for one final season. Logan will play his last season for the Tigers in his senior year, while Boss will be entering his junior year.

The two linemen have played both sides of the ball for the Tigers and have been magnificent during their tenure.

Boss Foumai will be coming in as the reigning Central California Conference Defensive Lineman of the Year. Both have been perennial shoo-ins for all-league selections during their time at the varsity level in both the Western Athletic Conference and the CCC. 

As brothers are often known to do, this season will not only be the final season they play together but will also be another chapter in their sibling rivalry.

“They are the toughest bunch of guys we have. I remember years ago I would see them out here, out at the Sports Park, or anywhere they could find. Their dad or their uncle would be putting them through drills early on. It’s like built into their DNA,” Cozart said. “It’s exciting to see their last year that they get to compete with each other and against each other. Trust me, it was a topic of conversation when Boss got defensive lineman of the year and Logan did not. A little bit of fuel to the fire for Logan. We’re excited to see what he can do along with Boss, who still has another year.”

With younger brother Roman Foumai entering his freshman year, the saga of the Foumai influence may yet continue in the years to come.

Patterson held an inter-squad scrimmage last week at Patterson Community Stadium, but will continue to gear up for the 2019 season with a scrimmage in their final week of preparation before their regular season begins with another scrimmage, at Grape Bowl in Lodi on Aug. 16 at 8 p.m. The Tigers will play both Lodi and Galt during the scrimmage.

Patterson’s regular season will begin next week when they host Tokay High on Aug. 23. The game is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Patterson Community Stadium.

PI sports writer

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