Tyler Takeda/The Madera Tribune
Madera Coyote head coach Yosef Fares, front, and football player Caleb Sherrod point a camper in the right direction during a football camp in Memorial Stadium this week.
With his first full summer in action, Madera Coyote second-year head football coach Yosef Fares is upbeat heading into the 2017 season.
Fares stood at midfield in Memorial Stadium on Wednesday evening while watching about 100 youth football players and more than 50 varsity football players during the Madera City Youth Football camp that was held Tuesday through Thursday.
“This is our second one this year,” he said. “In June, we did a Little Coyote camp. We offered those kids the second part of the camp, which is part of the Madera City Youth Football camp. We have a lot of coaches out here scouting players. We have very good numbers with our fifth through eight grade. We’d like to get more numbers in our kindergarten through third graders. We’re at about 100 kids. That’s a great number to have. Anything above 60 is good.”
Fares has seen nothing but positives with his players from the beginning of workouts in June through spring practices and summer workouts.
“The off-season has gone really good,” he said. “Our mantra is creating a new culture. We want to be a culture built on hard work and accountability. What we’ve done is start with these kids in January with morning lifting. Coach (Rustin) Pickett started a white T-shirt program and kids have to earn their way into the locker room. They’ve been really receptive to that. Everything they’ve done, they’ve had to earn. We’re very happy with our off-season. We still have to build on that. We’re nowhere near where we need to be. We can still build and build. As a coach, you’re always looking to build. Nothing is perfection.”
Last year, during Fares’ first summer, he lost about 30 players. This year, he hasn’t had any players quit since January.
“We have a solid core group of 56 kids that have bought in and show up every morning,” Fares said. “It takes a lot for a kid to show up at 6 a.m. for a workout. They have to be committed. What that does is build some mental toughness to help them fight through adversity in the morning where they have to go grind. It also makes it harder to just not give everything you have in the middle of the season because you’ve been at it since January.
“Football is a unique sport. You can’t just show up in August and expect a kid, on fourth-and-one to win the football game, to just get it without some type of mental adversity. We want to go with the mantra that our practices and off-season are harder than the game. When they get to the game, that should be a day off.”
In addition to getting his players ready for the upcoming season, Fares is working with the parents to help raise money for the program.
“When I first got the job, I wanted to bring a certain level of fundraising,” he said. “People say it’s hard to raise in certain communities. I think if you put your effort into it and get parents behind you, you should be raise in any community. So we’ve done a great job as far as parents in the community with fundraising.”
Fares has already had a pair of fundraisers with the team and the parents just finished working for five days in a fireworks booth. Next on the agenda is a cornhole tournament on Friday.
“Not only am I going to play in the cornhole tournament, I plan on winning it,” Fares said.
The popular tailgate game is open to a team of one adult and one high school-aged person. The cost is $30 per team and can call 706-4537 to register. Registration begins at 6 p.m. and bags fly at 7 p.m. in Memorial Stadium. There will be a full snack bar available.
“Kenny Paolinelli thinks he’s going to win the tournament, but it ain’t happening,” Fares said. “There more pride like who is going to walk around with their chest out higher the next week in the coach’s office. We have a little bit of trash talk going on with the coaches. A player has to be with a coach or adult. It can’t be two adults on a team. That way, you can have a freshman player with an adult playing the head coach and beating him, which is not going to happen. They get excited about that. It’s a fun deal.”
In August, the team will host its annual kick-off dinner at the San Joaquin Winery. The cost is $50 per person on Aug. 5, catered by Players BBQ. Tickets include social hour, silent auction, live auction, music and dancing.
“We give these kids a meal before every game,” Fares said. “We want to buy these kids that meal. We want to be able to buy them nice spirit packs. We want to be able to buy the right equipment. We just upgraded our headsets for the game and that cost $4,000. To run a top-notch program, it costs money. We got our Hudl sideline where you can view in the end zone and it goes straight to the sideline. We just bought that and it was $1,500. There’s a lot of technology stuff that’s allowing us to catch up with some of these programs that have it and give these kids a technology advantage. The fundraising is helping contribute to us catching up to that as well a supplying these kids with the nice things that come with a football program.”
Fares was also quick to point out that the season is right around the corner and he and his team will be ready.
“We’re loving it,” he said. “This is a great year for me. We’ve been going twice a week with practices. We’re going to give them next week off. We start double-days Aug. 1. We’re right around the corner. We’re going to have our steak and hot dog scrimmage game we’re bringing back. We’ll scrimmage against Mendota and open at home against Los Banos.”