Templeton High football coach Dan Loney said this year has an element of the unknown in the Los Padres League because several teams have turned over top players to graduation.
“It’s one of those weird years where I don’t know if anyone knows who everybody else has,” Loney said.
“I think we assume Lompoc has a good crop of guys coming in. And they’re young, so they’ll make mistakes early. But I just think we all don’t know where we are exactly.”
But Loney said the possibility of a sudden reversal of fortune is a “great thing of high school football,” which was displayed by Morro Bay’s big turnaround last season.
“From year to year, everything can change,” Loney said.
Last year, Lompoc went undefeated for the second consecutive year in the LPL at 6-0, Morro Bay was second at 5-1, and Templeton placed third at 4-2.
Morro Bay displayed the most drastic improvement, finishing 1-5 in league in 2011, only to reverse that record a year later under first-year coach Jack Greer. The Pirates then beat Inglewood in a first-round playoff game.
Greer sees a lot of quality teams in the LPL who believe they have a chance at the title. But until somebody beats Lompoc, “everything goes through them,” he said.
Nipomo has a good crop of players coming up from the junior varsity, and Santa Ynez returns some of its key players, Greer noted. Santa Ynez quarterback Brock Dickey threw for 1,700 yards last season.
Nipomo was 2-4 last season in league, and Santa Ynez was 1-5, but this year those teams could pose a much bigger threat along with Templeton who “will be in the mix as well,” Greer said.
“Our league is difficult,” Greer said. “We may not have the same notoriety as the Paso Robles or Arroyo Grande teams, but our league is competitive for what we have to offer.”
Nipomo coach Russ Edwards said the four goals the Titans have are to beat Lompoc, make the CIF-Southern Section playoffs, win league, and become Southern Section division champs.
Beating Lompoc would pave the way for the rest of their goals, Edwards said.
Last year’s Lompoc team had superb athletes, including Lavon Coleman, who rushed for 887 yards and 10 touchdowns, and now plays collegiately at Washington.
Nikko Hayes, who ran for 1,081 yards and 17 touchdowns, is playing at Idaho State.
“They don’t have the numbers of quality, stud athletes running around as they have the last several years, because a lot of those guys went on to Division I schools,” Edwards said.
“But their junior and senior class both won the league in their junior varsity seasons as sophomores.”
No matter how they approach it, the path to achieving those goals still remains a formidable giant.
“Until somebody can knock of Lompoc, they’re the favorites,” Edwards said.