NEWARK -- There's no doubt the Dougherty Valley High football team had a long offseason. The Wildcats, under the tutelage of first-year coach Nick Tisa, were coming off an 0-10 season and took a 16-game losing streak into this one.
But Tisa preached patience, hard work and dedication. He did what he could to get the players to buy into his system.
"The kids bought in, and they held each other accountable starting in January," Tisa said.
The result was a season-opening 38-6 win over host Newark Memorial in nonleague play Friday night.
"This feels so good," Tisa said. "I got a huge monkey off my back."
Tisa, who was a two-year defensive coordinator before taking on the reins as head coach, watched his team score 31 unanswered points in claiming the first victory for the program since a 56-0 win over Oakland on Sept. 23, 2011.
Dougherty Valley got quite the efficient game from quarterback Umar Farooq. The senior was 6 of 8 passing for 121 yards and a touchdown. His top target was Jacob Padrid, who caught three passes for 58 yards that included a 25-yard TD reception.
On the ground, the Wildcats got 69 yards on 10 carries from David Prendez, who also had a 31-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
The Cougars (0-1) played their first game without coach Rich Swift, who died Feb. 13 from an inoperable brain tumor. And the Cougars did not look like the Cougars of the past. They made several blunders both offensively and defensively. They turned the ball over five times. They managed just 142 yards of offense.
"We underestimated a very good Dougherty Valley team," first-year coach Ralph Meredith said. "We were too cocky, and Swift would have never let us be like this."
Newark's top offensive player was running back Frank Napal, who had 40 yards rushing on 11 carries and a touchdown.