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Oliver Keeping Football Bruins Busy
Between a bustling schedule of workouts, team practices and community fundraisers, the Riverbank High football program is a beehive of offseason activity under the direction of second-year coach James Oliver in 2012.

"The summer is going well," Oliver said. "We have at least 30 to 32 varsity kids and 28 to 30 JV kids consistently showing up this summer. The incoming freshman players have been impressing our coaches with their eagerness, passion and their positive attitude.

"They are blending in well with our sophomores."

Oliver said his seniors have taken big steps to provide leadership at the varsity level, and he is quite impressed with a barrage of varsity newcomers he feels will make an impact on the field this fall.

And big impacts are key if Riverbank hopes to snare wins from a veritable gauntlet of conference opponents and an improved schedule of preseason opposition.

Riverbank dropped Division VI Big Valley (4-6 last year) from its perennial lineup and picked up a stalwart Linden team that qualified for the Division IV playoffs last year and is a regular contender in the Mother Lode League. That game will be fourth on Riverbank's schedule during a Sept. 14 showdown in Linden.

Riverbank again opens the season with Waterford, who fell to the Bruins in a 20-19 overtime Riverbank win in Waterford in 2011. The Wildcats were 4-3 in the Southern League and expect to return standout runner Dylan Gonzales, who scorched Riverbank for 157 yards on a grueling 31 carries last year. Riverbank also plays Denair and Delhi in the preseason. The Bruins fell to Delhi 14-13 a year ago and get a shot at revenge against Delhi's awkward goal line formation offense on Sept. 7.

Riverbank begins action in what is widely considered the toughest small school league in the state, the Trans-Valley League, on Sept. 21 (hosting Orestimba). The Bruins couldn't escape conference play with a victory last year, but fell to Orestimba by just seven and Hughson by nine.

The Bruin defense should have more success against TVL teams in 2012 as Fabian Arana, Luis Solorio, Joaquin Felix, Chad Oliver, Nestor Montoya, Christian Torres and Cecil Arias return to anchor the unit. Angel Torres is the biggest new face on offense as the replacement for 2011-12 Riverbank News Athlete of the Year, Alex Reynaga (quarterback). Torres will dish the ball to backs Anthony Gonzalez, Gabriel Manriquez and Orlando Gutierrez while Chad Brouillard and Bobby Schmidt expect to anchor a stout offensive line.

Coach Oliver said newcomers expect to make an impact as well, and the production of baseball star Antonio Perez may be the biggest point of interest this season. Oscar Rodriguez, Jacques Lewis, Alex Osborne, Austin Wey and Pedro Llamas should also make an impact in 2012.

"We have some newcomers that have been impressive," Oliver said. "Our coaching staff spent a lot time during this off season on preparing for this upcoming season. We seem to all be on the same page and are very excited."

The Bruins saw success from the annual fundraising Bruin Car Wash on June 23 as well and continue summer sessions on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays on the prep campus.