It’s 6:55 a.m. on Jan. 5, and the weight room at Morro Bay High School is filled with football players ready to forget all about the season they had just been through.
Finishing the year with an 0-10 record will do that to a team. And in the meeting, players quickly turned their attention to the next season and how to prevent another winless campaign from happening again.
Then junior running back Danny Koval led the charge that morning. And thanks in part to his leadership, Morro Bay has increased participation numbers from 34 players last year to 40 heading into this season.
“When you go 0-10 and still show up to work and still do it, it shows that you got something within,” Morro Bay head coach David Kelley said at practice this week. “It was a matter of just bringing them back up, building faith in themselves that they are still good young men and just go from there.”
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In his senior season, Koval will take over at quarterback for a revamped offense that abandoned Kelley’s wing-T system for a more traditional, run-heavy scheme orchestrated by Paul Merkle, a former offensive coordinator who last called plays for the Pirates in 2013.
“We are going to be a run team with some play action and spread the ball out vertically when we can,” Kelley said. “It has been a really good vibe on the offensive side.”
Kelley said he is excited about the diversity of the ground attack, which features Koval, Luis Alvarez, Brandon McGinley and Myles Minnis.
Koval, who is a better passer than runner at 5-foot-10, 160 pounds, provides athleticism and leadership in his first season playing the position.
“It was hard at first,” Koval said of learning to play quarterback, “but once I started picking up rhythm it has been good.”
Koval is leading the third different offense in four years at Morro Bay but said he feels better knowing he has quality running backs behind him. Alvarez, who Koval calls a good friend, provides the power at 5-foot-8 and 180 pounds, while McGinley brings the speed.
“We didn’t get (McGinley) that ball nearly enough last season. That’s why I had to fire the offensive coordinator,” Kelley said jokingly.
McGinley, a 5-foot-10 senior, likes the new system and running behind an offensive line that has some size including Jared Bueno (6-3, 280) and Bodie Reaber (6-1, 260).
“A lot of players have bought into this offense more than last season,” McGinley said.
The wild card of the run game is Minnis, a 6-foot-1 225 pound-junior, who will likely get carries in short yardage situations. Minnis and Alvarez will also be starting linebackers for a defense that gave up more than 44 points per game last season.
“With those four horsemen right there, we are going to ride them and see what they can do,” Kelley said.