The Year in Review: Local players make noise in NFL
by TP staff
Dec 28, 2012 | 3337 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A pair of hometown football players made their debut in the NFL in 2012, with one destined for at least one postseason game.

Matt Overton, of Tracy High’s Class of 2003, found a spot as a long snapper on special teams with the Indianapolis Colts, which were assured a first-round playoff appearance with one game left to go in the regular season.

Meanwhile, Amini Silatolu, who graduated from West High in 2007, was named the second-round pick of the Carolina Panthers and was immediately inserted as the starting left guard.

His season ended Sunday, Dec. 23, when he dislocated his wrist in a game against the Oakland Raiders.

“Everyone is going in with a chip on their shoulder expecting to play,” Silatolu said after being drafted. “There are going to be free agents who will want to take my spot. You’ve just got to do what you’ve been doing since college.”

While the 6-foot-3, 320-pound Silatolu was a starter from Week 1, Overton (6-foot-1, 254 pounds) had to beat out a 13-year veteran in training camp to win his position.

“He had been the second-longest player in Colts history, so it was big news,” Overton said at the time. “It was at times a bit overwhelming, because it pointed to me that I would get the job.”

Both traveled long roads to reach the highest level of football.

Silatolu, after leaving West, became an offensive lineman at San Joaquin Delta College before transferring to Division II Midwestern State University in Texas. By the end of his junior year there, he had earned the first of two consecutive Lone Star Conference Offensive Lineman of the Year titles.

Overton signed as a free agent this year with the Colts after playing several years in the United Football League.

A third Tracy-area football player, Stanley Arukwe, also moved on and off NFL rosters this year.

A former West High teammate with Silatolu who graduated in 2007, Arukwe was signed as an undrafted free agent by the New York Jets. The 5-foot-11, 184-pound receiver and special-teams player was waived in August but re-signed to the Jets’ scout team two weeks later.



2. Bulldog shows tough stuff

Tracy High’s Jonah Wesely let his fastball make a name nationally as the junior southpaw tossed three no-hitters during a season that helped him reach the Perfect Game All-American Classic in San Diego.

Wesely’s spring campaign also helped the Tracy High varsity baseball team to a program-best 14-1 record in the San Joaquin Athletic Association.

The team went 24-6 overall and was bounced from the playoffs by Enochs High, two games short of playing for a section title.

But Wesely’s season continued.

On June 15, he pitched two scoreless innings in the Metrodome in Minneapolis, impressing scouts enough to be selected for the All-American game in August in Southern California.

“I got up there, and it was probably the biggest adrenaline rush I’ve ever had,” the 17-year-old said after the June 15 game. “You’re facing the best guys in the country.”

The experience got bigger in San Diego, where he gave up two earned runs in an inning of work Aug. 12, but also hit 93 mph on the radar gun while mixing in a curve.

“It’s just a pleasure to work so hard for something for so long. I never thought it would be this great an experience,” Wesely said following the game. “It’s the greatest experience of my life and the most fun I’ve had in a span of four days, by far.”



3. Sports complex breaks ground

Construction equipment began rolling on land north of the city to build the Tracy Sports Complex, a long-awaited compendium of soccer, football, baseball and softball fields.

Work had already begun on the site when the city hosted a groundbreaking ceremony April 30.

The idea of a complex with multiple fields for baseball, softball and soccer dates back to 2001, when city officials proposed a sports park on Schulte Road, southwest of town, on a former Federal Aviation Administration antenna field.

In 2006, land north of the city between Tracy Boulevard and Corral Hollow Road was determined as the best location.

But plans truly came together in 2011, when the city and several youth sports clubs decided to enter a partnership that would have the city lay groundwork for the fields before the clubs finish the work and then keep up the fields.

Tracy Babe Ruth, Tracy Little League, Tracy Futbol Club and Tracy Youth Soccer League agreed to lease fields in the park at an annual rate of $150 per acre for 15 years, with a 10-year extension option.

The city is paying $11.7 million to prepare the first 72 acres — enough for 20 fields — of the 150-acre sports park.

More fields are expected to be built in the future as more youth sports organizations sign similar leases to those already in place.

The City Council was set to consider names for the complex in December, but council members put off the discussion until the first meeting of 2013.



4. Tracy High stadium torn down

The oldest high school stadium in town came crashing down this year to make way for a new one.

Named Wayne Schneider Stadium in 2008, the bleachers that surrounded the track and Peter B. Kyne Field were demolished beginning July 31, just after the stadium played host to entertainment and seating for the annual Fourth of July fireworks display.

By the end of the year, work had begun to erect light poles around the new stadium, which is expected to be complete before the 2013 football season.

The project pushed the Bulldogs football team to West High for its 2012 games. It also forced a temporary move for Tracy High’s soccer teams and a permanent move for its baseball team, as the footprint of the stadium shifted 20 feet to the east, infringing on the diamond.

The overall cost of the project is $8.8 million, which includes the cost of the new stadium and relocation of 12 portable classroom buildings that must move to accommodate the new stadium.

The football stadium first took shape in 1927, when volunteers built a fence around the field. Lights were installed in 1936, wooden bleachers arose in 1948, and in 1980 the bleachers were rebuilt in metal through a community effort.

The most recent upgrades included the rebuilding of a press box in 1993 and returfing of the field in 1997.



5. Delta Charter celebrates new digs

On Dec. 3, the basketball teams at Delta Charter High made history by becoming the first squads to play in the school gymnasium.

The high school on the corner of Koster and Durham Ferry roads, part of the rural New Jerusalem School District, never had a dedicated gymnasium before the 10,000-square-foot facility opened.

Deandre Ragsdale, a sophomore basketball player and one of the 701 students at the kindergarten-through-12th grade charter school, said it changes the face of the campus.

“When we came here it was like, ‘Wow!’ It looks so beautiful,” Ragsdale said. “The way they put up the elementary school and high school names up there. This gym will change the school’s tradition.”

The $2.5 million gymnasium was included in a $6.5 million campus upgrade that also features a 6,000-square-foot building with an administration office and two classrooms, two new portable buildings and landscaping to tie it all in with the old campus and 15 existing portable buildings.

The district paid for the project with a $5 million federal Qualified School Construction Bond. The 15-year loan at 2 percent interest is made through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

• This list was compiled by the Tracy Press staff. If there’s a story you think should have been included in the list, share your thoughts by writing to the Voice section at tpletters@tracypress.com or 145 W. 10th St., Tracy, CA 95376.
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