Student athletes will be carrying, catching and throwing footballs in the cool air at Coast Union High School Friday night, Aug. 26, as the Broncos open their 2016 season against the Hesperia Christian Patriots at 7 p.m.
Coming off a 3-6 season (3-1 in the Coast Valley League) in 2015, the Broncos, under second-year head coach Thom Holt, will be fielding an eight-man team with seven freshman in the mix, along with 10 experienced sophomores, juniors and seniors.
Getting enough players on the practice field in preparation for the fall season has been challenging for Holt. Several players have jobs (some reportedly as breadwinners for the family), making it hard for them to consistently attend summer practices with the team.
Other student athletes who could help the roster just haven’t committed to join the team, Holt said, adding that parents have legitimate concerns about football injuries for their sons, which also has impacted the team’s roster.
The starting center is freshman Spencer Magnuson, younger brother of Grant and Ellie Magnuson. Also on the front line are senior Warren Smith (all-league in 2015); sophomore Gary Lyons; and senior Roberto Cueva (honorable mention for all-league), who plays the center position on the Broncos basketball team.
“My line looks good,” Holt said. “I’m optimistic.”
On offense, senior Jack MacKinnon is the signal caller, coming off a season in which he earned second-team all-league honors on defense and offense in 2015 and is expected to show leadership after playing that position most of his junior year.
Backing up MacKinnon at quarterback will be junior Eddie Camacho.
Get our fastest guy one-on-one with their fastest guy, and I think our guy will win every time.
Thom Holt, Coast Union football coach on Riley Kennedy
Senior running back Alam Ramirez (first team all-league in 2015) will bring his speed and quickness to the offensive attack. Freshman Emany Plascencia is expected to see some duty at running back, as well as in the receiver position. And a student athlete who just moved to Cambria from Wyoming, Anthony Stonehill, also will see time at running back, Holt said.
Junior Riley Kennedy (who also excels in basketball and baseball) will be a key receiver for MacKinnon’s passes.
Though Holt hasn’t had all 17 players on his roster in pads as often as he would like in preseason, he said he expects all players to attend practices this week. Failure to attend a practice from here on out means that player will be held out for a quarter of the next game.
“It has to be a good excuse” for a player to be allowed to miss a practice, Holt said in an interview Saturday, Aug. 20.
Miss two practices and you’ll miss a whole game, Holt added.
The coach said he’s going into the season hopeful and positive.
“I am definitely optimistic,” Holt said.
MacKinnon demonstrated grit and talent last year, and Ramirez gained more than 1,000 yards in 2015.
“Get our fastest guy one-on-one with their fastest guy, and I think our guy will win every time,” Holt said. “So, we get the ball to Riley (Kennedy) and let him beat one guy and he’s gone.”
Coast’s opening-night opponent hails from Hesperia, a town of 92,000 in the Mojave Desert, south of Victorville. The Hesperia Christian Patriots will have a hefty trek from the desert to Coast Union on Friday (283 miles and about 4½ hours), but there’s a reward waiting at the end of the trip in the form of cooler weather: Cambria’s temperatures are about 25 degrees lower than Hesperia’s.
The Patriots were 1-2 in their Agape League last season and 6-4 overall; this season, they have a 14-man roster and face a tough schedule, playing their first three games on the road.
Friday’s game will be broadcast at 7 p.m. on KTEA-FM (103.5) and stream live on www.ktea-fm.com.
2016 Coast Union football schedule
Aug. 26 vs. Hesperia Christian
Sept. 2 at Fresno Christian
Sept. 9 at Laguna Blanca, 4 p.m.
Sept. 16 vs. Cate
Sept. 24 at Riverdale, 1 p.m.
Sept. 30 at Cuyama Valley
Oct. 7 OPEN DATE
Oct. 14 vs. Valley Christian Academy
Oct. 22 at Shandon, 1 p.m.
Oct. 28 vs. Maricopa
Note: All games 7 p.m., except where indicated. All games heard live on KTEA-FM (103.5) and stream live on www.ktea-fm.com