Lodi High football coach George Duenas feels one year makes a difference.

Galt High football coach Tim Cobleigh thinks hard work and tougher opponents will pay off down the road.

On Tuesday, Duenas’ Flames and Cobleigh’s Warriors, along with the Stagg High football team, met at Don Womble Field on the Lodi High campus for 7-on-7 passing games against each other. This was the first non-contact games for the three squads in preparation for the upcoming season.

“It was nice to get out there for awhile,” Duenas said. “See what our drops look like on defense. It’s always nice to get good competition.”

Lodi scrimmaged Stagg first, followed by Galt. Stagg managed to score once on the Flames’ defense, but Lodi picked off the football twice; one each from defensive back Vinny Montgomery and safety Logan Stout.

“The biggest takeaway we got is we are better defensively than we were going into the season last year,” Duenas said. “He (Stout) looked pretty good. He’s aggressive. He’s a ball-hog.”

At this time in 2018, Duenas was just named the new Lodi football coach, taking over for Robert Sperling, who resigned earlier in the year because of health reasons.

The Flames had no 7-on-7 games last summer. The time was spent in working out in the weight room and learning a new offense in the pistol wing-T and 3-4 base defense. Lodi finished the season at 3-7, but lost three games by less than a touchdown.

“It’s nice to see that one year can change,” Duenas said. “Last year we were just teaching. Right now we’re just fixing.”

The offense, Duenas noted, showed improvement as well. Players ran their routes or stayed behind to provide protection for Stout, a three-year starter at quarterback.

“I thought they all played pretty well, offensively,” Duenas said. “I was really impressed, of this being our first 7 on 7. I know Galt is more of a running team like we are. It was nice to see what they (Stagg) can do.”

Lodi will host Stagg in a non-league game at the Grape Bowl on Friday, Sept. 13.

Cobleigh, who is also in his second season at the Galt helm, was as happy as a kid opening presents on Christmas Day.

“(Tuesday) was just about getting outside and putting to work all of the things that we’ve been working on in the spring,” Cobleigh said. “The kids were itching to get out on the field. It was a great opportunity to get out there and do some work.”

Galt’s offense squared off against Lodi’s defense. Behind three-year starting quarterback Robert Bulahan Jr., now a senior, back-up quarterback Victor Garcia and wide receiver Marcelo Lopez, the Warriors’ offense, which is the spread wing-T, helped move the ball well against the Flames’ defense.

“Marcelo looked great as usual,” Cobleigh said. “Robert did a great job.”

The Warrior coach was also pleased with the performance of Kenny Tran, a junior running back who played on last year’s junior varsity squad.

“We’ve been moving some guys around; just people getting touches and working the offense a little bit,” Cobleigh said.

On defense, the Warriors are planning to use the 4-2-5 and 4-4 base sets. Seeing many teams running the spread and pistol offenses last season. Galt started the 2018 season at 4-1 in the pre-season, but lost all of its Sierra Valley Conference games to finish at 4-6.

“We’re working some new systems with the same terminology out there,” Cobleigh said. “Defense is where we wanted to get some work done. Some of it is kind of new; a lot of zone coverages that we’re working on.

In mid-August, Galt will take part in Lodi’s four-way scrimmage that will include Patterson and River City of West Sacramento. Then Galt will host Woodland Christian at the revamped Warrior Stadium on Friday, Aug. 23, followed by another non-league game against Summerville. Then the Warriors play at Linden, Valley and Mira Loma, both of Sacramento.

All four Lodi area high school football teams — Lodi, Tokay, Galt and Liberty Ranch — are staying busy with 7-on-7 passing drills this month.

Today at Hubbard Field starting at 6 p.m., Tokay will be holding its second and final Thursday Night Lights. Tokay will compete against Liberty Ranch, Lathrop and Valley.

On Friday, Lodi and Tokay will take part in the one-day Stagg Passing Tournament. On Saturday, June 22, Lodi will compete in another 7-on-7 passing tournament at Delta College.

From June 18 to 21, Tokay will take part at the annual Lake Tahoe Football Camp. Former Tokay High football coach Louis Franklin, who is now the South Tahoe coach, runs the non-contact camp.

Galt will compete at the Foothill High Tournament, also 7-on-7, in Sacramento that’s also on June 22.

By the end of this month, Cobleigh is hoping to have his Warriors host one 7-on-7 game. On Tuesday, Galt Joint Union High District officials and board members held a ribbon-cutting ceremony of the Erv Hatzenbuhler Field of Warrior Stadium, which now turf field, all-weather track, new grandstands and press box.

But according to William Spalding, the school district’s superintendent, the white lanes on the all-weather track are to be painted before the end of this week, plus cement walk way on the visitor’s side of the stadium. The Erv Hatzenbuhler Field sign is expected to be in place in time before Galt opens against Woodland Christian.

Liberty Ranch, Galt’s second high school, will host Lodi in a 7-on-7 passing game at Hawks Stadium next Wednesday. The two schools meet again at Don Womble Field on Wednesday, June 26.

Contact Mike Bush at mikeb@lodinews.com. Follow on Twitter: @MBushLodiSports.

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