After three straight losing seasons, Nipomo High’s football team is looking to give Titans fans more to cheer about this year.
And there could be some good news on the horizon.
While the varsity team went 2-8 last year, the Titans reversed that record at the junior varsity level, notching an 8-2 mark.
Several key J.V. players, now in the junior class, have climbed the ranks to fill out this year’s varsity roster.
“Our junior class has been pretty much good in all sports,” junior wide receiver Luke Nicholson said. “I think this year and next year will be major seasons for our school.”
Titans coach Russ Edwards counted seven juniors starting on each side of the ball, among them quarterback Matt Albright, who said he’s ready for the challenge of helping turn the tide.
“I think it’s really important because the community is starting to lose hope in our football program,” Albright said. “Everybody is expecting us to be the underdog and blow through us.”
Edwards said Albright is an “intelligent quarterback” who will be able to call out protection schemes and audibles, and organize the offense into play sets.
At 6-foot-2 and 160 pounds, Albright has the height to see over the defense and good accuracy with his arm, Edwards said. Albright was a standout first baseman on the varsity baseball team last spring, hitting .315.
“It has been pretty exciting, because almost 100 percent of the time he has been getting us into the right calls here in practice,” Edwards said. “Having a smart quarterback who puts the ball on the spot is a huge thing when you’re running the spread.”
The Titans offense will feature four key receivers — Brandon Hettenhouser, Nick Kimball, Harrison Labastida and Nicholson.
“We have really good team chemistry and really good players at certain positions, especially wide receivers,” Albright said. “I think we have the perfect offense for our skill set.”
Using an offense that will feature about 60 percent passing and 40 percent running plays, senior Ismael Leon and junior Chris Owens, the J.V. team’s leading rusher last year, are expected to take on the bulk of the carries.
An interesting aspect of the Titans roster — which includes 58 players compared to 35 last year — is that Nipomo has two sets of twins and all four are impact players.
Offensive linemen Elias and Jose Guzman will provide some mass, both weighing in at above 270, to protect Albright as part of a line that averages more than 250 pounds.
The Renner twins — John at linebacker and Michael Renner on the offensive line — both have a chance to be all-league players, Edwards said. Michael Renner was second team all-Los Padres League last year.
At defensive back, D.T. Martinez returns as a senior after a junior season in which he received all-LPL second team.
After consecutive seasons of 2-8, 4-6 and 0-10, the hope is this year the Titans fans will see a lot more Ws in the win-loss column, as they did in 2009 at 8-4.
“We’re really excited about this year, and there’s a nice expectation to win amongst the group,” Edwards said. “They came in and they’ve been looking to compete from the get-go.”