The Nipomo High football team acknowledges everything that happened last year.
Rather than trying to wipe the slate clean and move on, coach Russ Edwards and the Titans embraced their 0-10 record last year, knowing there was a silver lining.
“As we went through that, they never really quit,” Edwards said. “They worked hard every day in practice and they continued to improve with the understanding that they were going to have a new season next year.”
For the Titans, that “new season” starts Friday night.
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Trying to rebound from a winless season decimated with injuries, the Titans start their season with a home game against Pioneer Valley, shooting for the program’s first win since Nov. 21, 2009, with a vivid memory of each loss at hand.
“We’ve told them, let’s not forget about it, let’s build off it,” Edwards said. “And that thought process worked in our favor.
We’ve really had the best summer, from this group, that I’ve had in my time here as a head coach.”
That’s because the Titans are determined to prove last season was a fluke. They’re aiming to get back to what they were in 2009, when they went 8-4 (5-2 Los Padres League) and lost to Serra of Gardena 48-18 in the quarterfinals of the CIF-Southern Section Northwest Division playoffs.
And with a large group of players coming back from injuries, Edwards thinks the Titans have the firepower to do so.
They’ll return projected starting quarterback Chris Souza. He suffered a season-ending injury in the second week of last season during Nipomo’s 27-12 loss to Carpinteria, marking the beginning of a number of injuries under center that led the Titans to end the season playing their fourth-string option.
But now, the senior is healthy, and more than ready to show that Nipomo can make a run to the top of the LPL.
“We’re pretty fired up to get back here and we’re looking to win a lot more games than last year,” Souza said. “Can’t get worse, it can only get better.”
Senior linebacker J.T. Wells, who had a team-high 147 total tackles last year, is just as excited. He said the team knows exactly what it needs to do to match or surpass what former Nipomo standouts Akeem King, Kevin Britt and Duane Hanna did in 2009.
“Last year was the worst year we’ve ever had,” Wells said. “We gotta turn that completely around. We gotta shock everyone and show that we are still a good, respectable program.
“We know what we need to get done. We know as a unit we need to be better.”