At a recent Mission Prep football practice, senior tight end Michael LaCasto ran a route toward the sideline for a routine catch. The problem was, when the ball arrived, LaCasto looked down to see he was already out of bounds.
Last season, that catch would have been well inside the line.
But Mission Prep is making the transition from 11-man to 8-man football this season — a move made due to dwindling participation numbers. And not only has the roster shrunk, but so did the field. In the eight-man game, the field is reduced from the traditional 100 yards long and 53 1/3 yards wide to 80 yards long and 40 yards wide.
“It has really been no different than anything else you do in 11-man football, just a couple concepts that change,” Mission Prep first-year head coach David Schuster said.
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Schuster said the goal this year is to win as many games as possible, build the program and return to the 11-man ranks next season.
Mission Prep at a glance
2016 record: 4-6 overall, 2-2 Northern League
Despite a solid core of seniors, Mission Prep lost its last three games of the season, including a blowout loss to Nipomo, a surprising loss to Templeton and a first-round playoff exit to Dos Pueblos.
Bryce Fledderman (QB, Sr.), Brayden Corona (RB/WR, Sr.), Joseph Miller (WR/DB, Jr.), Timmy Miller (WR/DB, Jr.), Robert Crandall (OL/DL, Sr.)
Mission Prep lost a ton of seniors to graduation, including Fledderman, its starting quarterback the past three seasons. Also gone is explosive running back Corona and Crandall, the Royals’ best offensive linemen. The Miller twins transferred to St. Joseph to join its football team.
Brayden Farr (RB/DB, Jr.), Michael LaCasto (TE/LB, Sr.), Mace Sherlock (WR/LB/P, Jr.), Vance Rocha (RB/DB, Soph.)
Farr, a First-Team All-County member in 2016 as a linebacker, is moving to safety, a move Schuster said will allow the junior to have a bigger impact. LaCasto is the only senior on the roster and will play a big role as a linebacker and captain of a team filled with freshmen and sophomores. Rocha will be the featured running back in a power attack that will feature a handful of options. Sherlock — at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds — is the most intriguing athlete on the team and, according to Schuster, was dominant as a wide receiver in summer passing leagues.
Under The Radar
Chase Jones (QB/DB, Jr.), Dalton Strouss (LB/OL, Soph.), Matt Ellingen (OL/LB, Jr.)
Jones takes over at quarterback for Fledderman, but don’t expect him to throw the ball much in the Royals’ new offense. Strouss is the strongest player on the team and is expected to be a force at linebacker. Ellingen is “going to be a special kid for us,” Schuster said.
@Joshua Springs Christian (Sept. 22), @Flintridge Prep (Oct. 20)
CIF-Southern Section Power Ranking
Division 1, (Ranking N/A)
The Tribune 2017 prep football preview
Over the coming days, The Tribune will roll out its 2017 high school football preview looking at teams, top players and story lines from San Luis Obispo County schools leading to the opening of the season Friday. Find new daily content online at sanluisobispo.com/sports and in the Sports section.