There is always turnover on a high school football roster.
But it’s how you replace that departed talent that determines how successful you can be going forward.
Nipomo High coach Russ Edwards hopes that his team, one that went 4-6 a year ago and 0-10 in 2010, can shake off the weight of inexperience and contend for a postseason berth.
“I’m always gonna say that we’re shooting to win league this year,” Edwards said. “If I’m working for anything else, I’m doing my boys a disservice. That’s our goal.”
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It will be an uphill battle for a Nipomo team that has to replace 27 seniors off last year’s roster, including its starting quarterback, its top-five rushers, its top-two receivers and four of its top five tacklers.
“We’re still trying to figure out what’s going to be the right fit for us offensively and defensively for our personnel, and how we develop with that will really dictate wins and losses,” Edwards said. “When you replace the outgoing senior with a two-year varsity senior then hopefully you’ll be right where you need to be.”
One of those seniors is starting quarterback Luke Shurtleff, who was 2 for 5 passing for 16 yards in limited duty last season.
“He’s really improved in my eyes,” senior running back Tommy Saenz said. “We’ll see that come (to)night.”
It will be a trial by fire for Shurtleff. The Titans open their season at Pioneer Valley before traveling to reigning PAC 7 and CIF-Southern Section Western Division champion Arroyo Grande.
And if that wasn’t enough, Nipomo opens Los Padres League play with a trip to Templeton, which advanced to the Northwest Division semifinals a year ago.
“Luke has always been a conscientious, hard worker,” Edwards said. “He’s really worked hard, he comes out every day prepared, gives his best effort in practice every day.
“He has a great grasp of the offense as we see it running through him. We’re looking for really good things from Luke this year.”
Helping Shurtleff carry the load on offense will be senior wide receiver Ian Wilkinson, the third-leading receiver from last year’s squad. Quinton Bland, also a senior, had three catches for 18 yards in spot duty.
A player to look out for may be junior wide receiver Josh Sundberg, a converted sprinter from Nipomo’s track team who brings much-needed speed to the outside for Nipomo.
Senior free safety Brandon Buchon started seven games last year, and senior cornerback Kaileb Mendez started two games late in the season.
With a roster that has plenty of room for players to step up and make a name for themselves, it ill be interesting to see how the young Titans open up against a tough schedule.
“They’re gonna come in, and I’m sure we’re gonna get tested,” Edwards said. “But they’ve been working hard and hopefully they’ll pass that test.”