For Mission Prep and new head coach Chad Henry, this offseason has consisted of trying to gain one thing he feels his players have never had before: Respect.
“We’re doing something here,” Henry said. “There is a level of expectation that players have set that is even higher than what anyone can set. They are extremely competitive kids and you can see it out on the football field. They want to be known that they are as equal as others around the county.”
It’s a lofty goal for a program that six years ago was playing 8-man football and just three years ago got its own home football field, but given the fact 11 total starters are returning off a squad that went 6-4 a season ago, it is one that Henry thinks is not too far out of reach.
“Hey, you’re already seeing it now,” Henry said. “In the past, I don’t think that anyone has ever had an opinion of Mission football. And I would say after the summer, people are starting to form opinions about us. Two years ago, I can’t say that was the case.”
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It’s due in part to dedicated players. In junior quarterback Tyler Baty’s eyes, his teammates are playing a key part in helping the team into the limelight.
“All the players are working hard and it’s really building the program up to something we want it to be,” Baty said. “We want to be the type of Los Padres League and PAC 7 type program.”
But as an independent program in the CIF-Southern Section Northeast Division, the Royals, who have to go 8-2 to clinch an automatic postseason berth, have a long way until they find themselves at that level. The school, in its second season in the Southern Section, applied for a bid into the Los Padres League last season, and while they proved they can compete last year, defeating Nipomo, the Royals failed to gain the required unanimous vote to join the league.
“There were a few schools that were against us, but that’s where we want to be,” Henry said.
“It’s just frustrating for our kids. We are traveling all over the place. It’s not realistic, so for us it makes sense.”
But, for Henry, it’s just a matter of time until his program makes that next step forward.
“There is going to be lots of talk of the different things that is going on here,” Henry said. “Three, four or five years, it’s going to definitely be a different place.”