Morro Bay High’s football team has exceeded most people’s expectations this season with a 6-3 overall record and a 4-1 Los Padres League mark.
At the heart of the Pirates’ offense, senior quarterback Dan Beavers had been leading the charge.
But in a game against Santa Ynez on Oct. 18, Beavers tweaked his knee while trying to evade a tackler. A few plays later, dropping back for a pass, the knee “popped,” and he went down.
The injury — later diagnosed as a meniscus tear — turned out to be season-ending for Beavers.
Beavers had surgery last week and will undergo rehab over the next two to three months.
His doctor told him he should be healed in time for baseball season — and he’s planning on playing in the spring.
Beavers called the injury “disappointing,” but he’s proud of the team and the season it has had.
The Pirates are guaranteed second place and a CIF-Southern Section Western Division playoff berth as they get ready to visit Templeton tonight in their regular-season finale.
Beavers continues to attend practices and games, encouraging teammates and acting as a mentor to his replacement at quarterback, Isaac Manuputy.
“It was kind of depressing that I can’t finish my senior year,” Beavers said. “But I still want to be a vocal leader. My older brother, Jake, took on that role last year. I know the team will play hard for me, for the town, for the school and for each other.”
Morro Bay coach Jack Greer said Beavers worked extremely hard to prepare for this season in the weight room and on the practice field. And Beavers steadily progressed as a passer throughout the season.
“Kids truly like him,” Greer said. “Dan’s a good role model. He’s from a hard-working family. He’s a good student. You never want to see a kid go down. Something like this is just hard to see.”
He ended up 54-for-106 passing for 667 yards, including a 6-for-10 performance for 131 yards and a touchdown in a 40-14 win at San Luis Obispo — one of the school’s biggest wins in years.
He had just two touchdowns passing on the season, but ran for five. He credits quarterbacks coach Robert Ellithorpe for helping him read defenses and to feel more comfortable behind center.
Beavers tore his ACL last season on the same knee on the final play of the game after making an interception against Santa Maria.
This year’s roster is small with 29 players and, after losing some key players from last season, including Dan’s older brother Jake to graduation and standout triple-option quarterback Jordan Bray, expectations were low for Morro Bay.
But that didn’t deter Beavers and his teammates, who set their goal of upsetting Lompoc for the league title.
The Braves have stormed through league, but Morro Bay duked out tough wins against Santa Ynez and Nipomo.
“We have a great coaching staff,” Beavers said. “They believed in us from the beginning and told us to play with our pads and don’t talk (trash). Luckily, we came out really well.”
Even against powerhouse Lompoc, Beavers was 10 for 17 for 113 yards and a touchdown in a 49-7 loss.
Beavers said he’ll look back at his high school football experience with fond memories, including the win over San Luis Obispo.
He said even from the days of youth football, Morro Bay couldn’t find a way to beat the group of players from San Luis Obispo until this year.
“It was a great win for the program and the community,” Beavers said. “We’ve had a hard time in that rivalry. San Luis Obispo and Lompoc have always been tough since I was 7 — and that continued into high school. We were really glad to get that win.”