The Rise of the River City Raiders


Jescherie Pascua Arela

Star running back, senior, Isaiah Perea caps off his night of September 2nd with his record breaking 6th touchdown as he led River City to their first win of the season in week two. The Raiders high powered offense and stout defense rallied to control the McClatchy Lions with an outstanding 47-0 win.

For most people, football is only a sport where you watch players kicking, tackling, and scoring touchdowns, but the football players here at River City High School consider football their life.
Unfortunately in the recent years, River City football has been disappointingly bad. The emotions of pride and memorability had slowly dwindled away from the entire program as a whole, starting with the varsity teams and thus impacting the Jr. program.
The actions of the recent varsity team has slowly built the pride back into the Blue and Gold Nation.
Throughout the years, the varsity team has been unlucky, finishing at 2-8 the previous years, with last year’s team finishing second to last in league.
The numbers in the previous two years have shown the root of the problem. The varsity team has allowed opposing teams to score 853 points while only scoring 314 points themselves.
Last year, the River City Raiders football team had an unexpecting downside year hoping they could get something better than an upsetting season they had a year before to get the program back on track.
According to, Jason Stolpe said, “We are very excited about this season. We have a good group of veteran players…”
Spearheaded by the returning head coach, Chris “The Legend” Baker and many other key members of the coaching staff, paired along with a strong Senior class and a star-studded Junior class, this year has been a breakout year for the program as a whole.
Chris Baker, a West Sacramento native and long-time River City Raider, started coaching football in 1974, making this his 42nd season to head the Raider Football Program for the third time in his coaching career.
Friday, August 26 marked the start of a new season for the Raider Varsity Football team. With Coach Baker, they started strong and won the past home games this season.
“I genuinely felt that my coming back as Head Coach provided our program with the first, best option moving forward given the circumstances. More than anything else, I want these young men to go out as winners. I care deeply about them. It is the most important thing in the world to me,” said Baker.
Varsity football players are still progressing at a two steps forward, one step back progression.The cultural changes that they have implemented, combined with the differences in expectations has been a challenge.
Baker said, “We are still working hard to develop full buy-in from a philosophical standpoint. I have no doubt that we will get to where we want to be. This is an evolutional process and will take place over time. We just have to stay focused and on task.”
Little things such as the practice strategies have changed, emanating a college type of system where everything is scripted.
“Everything is ‘On the hop’. It requires a great deal of preparation from our coaching staff, but also provides the best opportunity for our players to develop to their fullest potential. I wish that I would have had the opportunity to utilize this system earlier in my career. It is the most efficient system that I have ever worked with,” said Baker
According to Baker, he has his own style, he lacks political correctness, and he is demanding and can be difficult to work with.
“I don’t shy away from confrontation when I determine that it is in the best interest of our program. I would hope that people recognize that my heart is in the right place. However, I won’t lose any sleep over it if they don’t,” said Baker.
Yet, with another season coming, River City has a great chance to turn the program around and succeed in making playoffs, and it all starts with a great coaching staff that has been in business for a long time with good experience.
Varsity Coach Gabe ‘Ugly’ Jimenez, who attended River City himself, while also playing for the Raiders and Coach Baker, conveyed that, “This program instills a hard working, blue collar attitude.”
This “hard working, blue collar attitude,” is the embodiment of the whole West Sacramento community and how they live their lives. The Raiders have certainly bought into this attitude as their hard-working efforts have created success for them this season.
While researching up the history of the River City varsity program over the years, there was a chance to speak to a Running Backs/Special Teams Coordinator, Coach Anastacio Beltran, who had been a part of the program over the last two years and was asked what a key difference he has viewed about this year’s team, he stated, “ The culture of winning is developing.”
His statement has been proven valid as this team believes in themselves and their ability to win. This belief has been backed up by the fact that the community of West Sacramento has came out in an effort to support the Raiders.
The members in the area are increasingly rising, a lot of them have been attending the past home games, and they would also fill the stands when the team travels for away games.
The community’s pride in the team has actually elevated the team’s self-confidence, in addition to elevating the player’s role on the field. Going into the 4th league game of the season, the underdog Raiders stand at 2-1 in league play, in addition to being 3rd in the league standings.
For the coaches of the varsity program, there is something they find more important than the wins and losses, and even more important than the scoreboard. The biggest mission for the coaches was not to just turn them into great athletes, but to also turn them into great people who set out and strive in the community and represent the River City name proudly on their chest.
River City High School’s program had a lot of ups and downs in the years of Varsity Football, with great success in championships early on in years and being blown out with no chance in the late years.
Senior Isaiah Perea, plays the position of starting running back, has been playing for the Raiders through all of its ups and accomplishments they have celebrated. He was also there through the downs and yet, still standing and always ready to go out and fight with all of his brothers.
“Our program has always had its ups and downs,” Perea said.
Isaiah is proud to play as a Raider for River City HS and to represent where he came from, as he carries on in his journey through life.
“I plan on playing football but I don’t know where yet. Yes, this high school has helped me in many ways to prepare myself for the life in the future,” Perea said.
Before he leaves he feels to share his opinion on how the football team needs to take things more seriously and he considered more team bondings to get the program closer and have this game be more personal to them all.
“The coaching staff giving us study hall is good. Yet, team bonding would really help, like if we go to events, gatherings, dinner, or a vacation would be nice,” Perea said.
Most schools, somehow have more money to take good care of sports of all kinds, whether it is for the uniforms to look good, or the equipments to even play the game.
“If the school were to put more money into the football program, it would be very good for us. I think benefit and quality is a good start of a successful program,” Perea said.
It’s been hard for some players because during their practices they have to work hard, move quickly, and put all their energy into it.
Senior, Jason Mikluscak an Outside linebacker player said, “ Our practices are very efficient. It’s all about going 110% every time. Practice makes permanent.”
It’s been a challenging season for the Raider players when Baker became their coach, but they know that all of those hard work will paid off.
Mikluscak said, “Coach Baker changed our team significantly, he taught us that working hard pays off. That it’s all about ‘WE’ and to always bring your hard hats and lunch pail.”
According to Baker, he has his own style, he lacks political correctness, and that he is demanding and can be difficult to work with.
“I don’t shy away from confrontation when I determine that it is in the best interest of our program. I would hope that people recognize that my heart is in the right place. However, I won’t lose any sleep over it if they don’t,” said Baker.
For the Raiders, their strengths is considering each other family, that they all have each others back and that they work as one not as an individual.
Mikluscak expressed, “ Football to me is about working hard, being strong, having no fear, being hungry, and being a family. I love this sport, I would die playing it just to show my passion for it.”
As the season comes to an end, the Raiders, as well as the people of West Sacramento, anxiously wait to see how far these changes will take them.