Mission Prep will make a partial return to 11-man football next season after moving to eight-man in 2017 due to dwindling participation numbers.
Mission Prep head coach David Schuster said the varsity team will play 11-man in the first three games of the season and return to eight-man for the final seven games. The junior varsity team will play 11-man all season, Schuster said.
Mission Prep, along with 12 other Central Coast schools, will move from the CIF-Southern Section to the CIF-Central Section next season, meaning they will face schools from the Central Valley in the postseason rather than Southern California.
“The biggest reason for the 8/11 split was for JV,” Schuster said. “Mission hasn’t had a junior varsity team in three years, and to build one from scratch can be really difficult.”
Schuster said the split allows Mission Prep to start making the move to 11-man on varsity, while putting an emphasis on the 11-man JV team.
Schuster, who took over for long-time head coach Chad Henry, said he expects 34 players to be in the football program, JV and varsity combined, at the start of the season. There were 27 players in the program this past season. In 2017, Mission Prep went 6-2 and fell in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section playoffs. Just two years prior to that, Mission Prep went 8-3 and won a Northern League title as an 11-man team.
“After having a tremendously positive first year as the head coach, I’m excited about our progress and direction,” Schuster said. “We are rebuilding the program at a rapid pace in a sustainable way.”
Mission Prep will debut the revived 11-man team against Morro Bay on Aug. 17. After a bye and a Week 2 game that has yet to be determined, Mission Prep is scheduled to take on crosstown rival SLO High in the first-ever SLO Town Showdown, the first time the schools have faced almost 20 years. The following week, Mission Prep will convert to eight-man to play Laton in Week 4.
The goal, according to Schuster, is to return both varsity and junior varsity to 11-man football for the 2019 season.