NEWMAN - The Westside Niner football and cheer squads are up and running once again after a year long wait due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After getting word that they could return to the field, coaches, players and cheerleaders have been working efficiently as summer drills are under way. 

Head coaches and assistant coaches at all levels of the program are enthused to finally be back and are ready for that first taste of action. Their annual munchies scrimmage games will be taking place Aug. 7 in Denair along with their season opener on Aug. 14 against Hilmar.

President of the Niners and head varsity coach Don Cabral was one of the many people preparing these athletes in the week-long conditioning drills last week. Players started practicing in pads Monday afternoon. 

“Being away for a year, most of these kids where cooped up in their rooms and out of shape. Finally having them back on the field is amazing,” said Cabral. 

Cabral also mentioned that the last time they were in season, the team had over 120 players, compared to the 100 they have head counted this season.

The goals Cabral and the rest of his coaching staff preach to the players include understanding the fundamentals of the game and helping these young athletes advance their skills in the program so they are ready to move up to the high school level. 

As they go through practices, Cabral emphasized that player safety and concussion prevention are their biggest concerns this year, as they are every year.

“The proper technique of tackling within our designated time for contact drills are an important element with us achieving our goal this year to keep them safe,” Cabral told Mattos Newspapers.

Home Games at
Orestimba High School

Game times are 1,3,5 and 7 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 14: At Hilmar Packers

Saturday, Aug. 21: at Gustine Redskins

Saturday, Aug. 28: Mariposa Bears

Saturday, Sep. 11: at Turlock 

Saturday, Sep. 18: Central Saints

Saturday, Sep. 25: Denair Lions

Saturday, Oct. 2: at Merced Blue Devils

Saturday, Oct. 9: at Ripon Knights

Saturday, Oct. 16: Big Valley Sabres

Saturday, Oct. 23: Hughson Oilers