Second-year Dixon football coach Wes Besseghini made a big decision in the offseason. The Rams would switch from the popular spread offense to the throwback wing-T.
That move, coupled with another decision to part with well-respected junior varsity coach Troy Hensley, whose team went 9-1 in 2011, made Besseghini a lightning rod for criticism within the community.
It didn't help that the varsity team lost its first six games under Besseghini last season before finishing 4-7 and co-champions of the Golden Empire League.
"That's what I love about this town," said Besseghini, a Dixon graduate who played football for the Rams. "Everyone cares and wants to see the football team succeed. It was a tough decision and we were under attack for three months, but all we've tried to do from the start is to move forward."
That they have.
The Rams are 5-0 as they gear up for their league opener at Capital Christian on Friday, a game that could decide this year's league champion.
Besseghini hopes it isn't anywhere near as dramatic as last Friday's game.
The Rams trailed Mira Loma 20-0 at home with seven minutes to play before rallying to win 22-20. Sophomore Fredrick Douglas blocked a 34-yard field-goal attempt with 20 seconds to play to preserve the victory.
The Rams did it without five injured players, including junior quarterback and team leader Nolan Williams.
"I think it's the maturity with the kids," Besseghini said. "Last year we only had seven seniors on the roster. We've got a good group from the 9-1 JV team, and our kids have adapted well to the wing-T, which fits our talent better and can be sustained year after year."
It doesn't hurt that 13 players were members of the Dixon Rugby Club's ground-breaking national high school championship team last spring.
Besseghini said senior Josh Watkins, a 6-foot-4, 260-pound tackle and defensive end, could be the program's first Division I lineman recruit since twins Dave Ball, now with the Tennessee Titans, and Mat Ball played at UCLA nearly a decade ago.
Besseghini, an Azusa Pacific graduate who played football for one season there ("I decided to give it up after I got my sixth and seventh concussion"), has been on the Dixon football staff since he was 21.
Like so many young coaches, he works off campus in construction but hopes to put his teaching credential to use at his alma mater one day.
For the past three years he also has worked as Dixon's girls' softball coach with his wife, Jessi, a former college softball player. But he recently resigned because of the birth of his second child, 5-week-old Joshua. (Wes. Jr is 4.)
Credit Joshua with nice timing. Dad and mom had planned a Caesarean section a few days after the Rams' Aug. 31 opener against McClatchy. Instead, Joshua arrived Aug. 21.
"He decided to come early," Wes Sr. said.
Coach's first win First-year Florin coach Mike Rosales earned his first victory Friday, 47-20 over Hiram Johnson in a Metro Conference game, with a little help.
Ben Walls threw for 253 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for two scores, Deon Guther had seven catches for 159 yards and two touchdowns, and Louis Shimoum had 13 tackles and a fumble recovery.
Florin plays at No. 3 Burbank on Saturday.
Falcon tamers? Bear River defeated the River Valley Falcons and the Scotts Valley Falcons in its past two games to finish the nonleague season 5-0.
Next is the Bruins' Pioneer Valley League opener at the Colfax Falcons.