It has been a strange summer for junior Pierson Mosichuk and the rest of the San Luis Obispo High School football team.
While the campus is being transformed with money from Measure D, the players have had to adjust. Their football locker room in the Old Gym is under construction, so the players are using tiny basketball lockers in the New Gym to store bulky pads. The weight room is also gone, so the school had to tear down a wall separating two classrooms and convert it into a temporary gym.
“Measure D is such a good thing for our school, but there are going to be challenges like this for a long time,” San Luis Obispo second-year head coach Pat Johnston said.
Mosichuk hasn’t changed his lifestyle. He’s been spending a lot of time in the makeshift weight room this summer and has added about 15 pounds to his 5-foot-10 frame in anticipation of an increased role on both offense and defense.
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“He has taken his offseason very seriously,” Johnston said. “He knows that we are primarily a single-back offense, and he knows that he is going to be taking some hits.”
Mosichuk took more hits than he would have liked as a sophomore but showed flashes, gaining 589 yards and scoring four touchdowns on 128 carries, an average of 4.6 yards per touch.
“I am looking to break 1,000 yards this season,” Mosichuk said. “I’ve got some heavy goals.”
Mosichuk, along with senior athlete Javon Montgomery, will lead a Tigers offense that will be less spread and more ground and pound this season with Will Meinhold at quarterback, a 5-foot-6, 165-pound inexperienced passer coming off major shoulder surgery.
“We need to help the defense out by actually keeping the ball on the offensive side for more time to give them more rest so they can make successful stops,” senior offensive linemen Brendan Avila said of a defense that gave up 36 points per game last season.
Ball control has also been a point of emphasis this offseason for a team that averaged a fumble per game.
“It is basically the No. 1 rule,” Mosichuk said. “If we don’t lose the ball, we win more games.”
“He grew as a running back from the beginning to the end of the season — field vision and setting up blocks, tempo — and he has carried it over,” Johnston said of Mosichuk. “He has his eye on the next level, and he continues to work with that in mind.”
Instead of using their normal practice field, Mosichuk and the 24 other players in pads on Monday put in work on the baseball field above the campus next to the San Luis Coastal Adult School. Practice on Monday was held there without the benefit of painted lines. Still, Johnston and the rest of the team were optimistic heading into the season opener Friday night against Santa Maria.
“They have done a good job of preparing themselves in the weight room, and it’s clear they are on a mission to have a great year,” Johnston said.