The biggest turnaround job on the Central Coast was led by Ed Herrmann at Righetti. But Herrmann's Warriors, having already upped their win total by four, aren't done yet.
Righetti moved from 1-9 in 2016 to the playoffs this season and landed a CIF Southern Section Division 8 at-large bid on Sunday. The Warriors play at Antelope Valley in Lancaster Friday night. The first-round match-up is scheduled to kickoff at 6 p.m.
On Monday, Herrmann and the Warriors spent the afternoon running through conditioning drills and 11-on-11 drills, relishing in at least one more week of practice heading into Friday.
Herrmann said some of the difficulties the Warriors face against the Antelopes is, first, travelling to Lancaster and, second, dealing with Devon Williams, a 6-foot-4 receiver with offers from Alabama, Oregon and UCLA.
"Right out of the gate, it's a big road trip. Paso and Lompoc were our furthest travel this year," Herrmann said. "Then, they are very talented. They've got a really good group of skill guys. They're very fast, some things we haven't seen this year. We have to be very disciplined and we have to watch our turnovers, penalties and play good, solid, smart football."
Williams has 52 catches for 946 yards and 11 touchdowns this year as AV's leading receiver.
The Antelopes feature a balanced offense. Quarterback Caden Hinton has thrown for more than 1,900 yards with 19 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
The Antelopes have rushed for over 1,500 yards as a team with 27 touchdowns on the ground, led by Jermaine Marshall, who has 1,022 yards on 154 carries with 16 touchdowns. Marshall holds an offer from Nevada. Jamaal Bell hasn't produced much for Antelope Valley on the field after sitting out due to the transfer rule, but the all-purpose back holds offers from UCLA, Indiana and Utah.
Herrmann isn't too concerned with what AV brings to the table, though. He knows his team must focus on its own ability to execute a gameplan.
"They're focused, they're excited," Herrmann said of his team. "We had a lot of texting and talking all weekend long and how excited they were to get into the tournament here. We've got 100 percent showing up for meetings and film and weights and practice. We're going to give it our best shot."
Antelope Valley went 8-2 during the regular season and is the No. 4 seed in the Division 8 bracket. The Antelopes shared the Golden League championship to lock down an automatic playoff spot.
Righetti, meanwhile, had to earn its at-large bid. The Warriors weren't assured of a playoff spot until the CIF Southern Section announced the at-large teams Sunday morning. The Warriors' 45-13 win over Pioneer Valley on Friday had to help their cause.
Damien Robles, the Warriors' leading rusher, felt relieved when he saw the Warriors listed on the at-large sheet.
"I was anxious to see if we made it or not," Robles said. "Then I looked on Twitter and noticed we made it. I checked Hudl and found out we play Antelope Valley and watched a little film on them. We're ready."
Robles is confident his team will prove it deserved its at-large playoff bid.
"I believe that we belong here, mostly because we've been working hard," the senior said. "Last year we went 1-9 and we're 5-5 now. It's well-deserved. Everyone is excited. Not a lot of teams have this shot so we think that we're pretty special going into this."
Austin Dasis, another senior, has been on the varsity level at Righetti since his sophomore season and endured the one-win 2016 season as well as the 3-7 record in 2015.
"I think the 1-9 season really made us focus up in the weight room and just put in the work. We came out this season and weren't going to allow another 1-9 season."
Dasis said members of the team really started to believe they were in the midst of a turnaround season against Dos Pueblos and confidence hit a high in a win over Atascadero.
"I think we really connected against Dos Pueblos, we were hanging in with them," Dasis said. Dos Pueblos went on to win 24-0. Righetti then scored a critical PAC 5 League win over Atascadero, moving to 2-0 in league before falling to Arroyo Grande 38-28 and Paso Robles 23-14.
The winner of the Righetti-Antelope Valley game will play the winner of the Cerritos Valley Christian-Riverside Notre Dame game in the quarterfinals. If Righetti does advance, it's guaranteed a home game in the quarterfinals having won the pre-flip coin toss.