Morro Bay High flipped the proverbial script in 2012 after winning only once the year before.
The Pirates hope to continue their success after posting an 8-4 mark in 2012, and going 5-1 in the Los Padres League after posting a 1-9 overall mark and 1-5 LPL record in 2011.
But they will have hurdles to overcome, including a roster that’s small in number and stature.
The Pirates have 26 players listed on their roster compared to 48 last year.
And they graduated such standouts as quarterback Jordan Bray and Jake Beavers, the LPL’s all-purpose player of the year who logged 120 tackles on defense and doubled as a powerful blocking fullback who also ran for four touchdowns.
This year, senior Dan Beavers, Jake’s younger brother, will take over at quarterback.
“I know a lot of teams might be bigger, stronger, but we’ll definitely outmatch them in heart,” Dan Beavers said. “We expect a target on our back. We’re ready to take on challenge. We think people will take us for granted this year. We’re confident and ready to win.”
The Pirates featured a run-heavy attack last year with Bray engineering the option.
This year, Beavers expects to throw more and balance the passing assault with a downfield running game led by returning senior Tristan Collins, who racked up 745 yards on the ground last year and 12 touchdowns.
“You’ll see a lot of throws deep down field and heavy running,” Beavers said. “We’ll run right at you. We’re not going to turn away.”
Morro Bay coach Jack Greer, who lead the Pirates’ turnaround in his first season as head coach last year, has been impressed with his quarterback’s zeal thus far.
“Dan Beavers is a great natural leader,” Greer said. “… Dan is quite a competitor, and you’ll get nothing but his best effort each and every day.”
Morro Bay’s only LPL loss last year was to Lompoc. Greer said he expects several teams to compete fiercely for a top standing in the LPL, and he sees more parity.
Despite a small roster, the Pirates return nine starters, including their entire secondary in Elijah Garcia, Zach Smith, Niko Atchison and Edgar Rivera.
On offense, Smith at wide receiver and offensive linemen Adrian Astorga and Dan Perlette, who also plays linebacker, will be impact players, Greer said.
“I was on the 1-9 team as a sophomore and that team had talent — maybe more talent than last year’s team,” Perlette said. “But we had no sense of team. I think last year, we always took the field with confidence. We knew we were going to play our style and we played to our abilities.”
Perlette said that Greer convinced the Pirates to believe in the motto “Respect everyone, but fear no one.”
“Coach Greer emphasizes the mentality that we never back down,” Perlette said.