Marty Graham 6:30 p.m., Jan. 17
Oceanside looks to defend state crown
Coming off the best season in program history, expectations have not changed for the Oceanside Pirates.
“Our expectations are the same all the time. We want to be the best football team we can be,” said Oceanside head coach John Carroll. “We’ll take whatever our given circumstances are – skill level, depth, injuries – and we want to achieve the highest possible level that our ability will allow us to."
In 2007, the Pirates’ ability allowed them to win the Division II state championship, bringing the title to San Diego for the first time. Oceanside also won their fourth straight Division II section championship and finished with a 12-1 record.
Carroll said the key to Oceanside’s success begins with practice.
“We try to learn to practice everyday to be the best that we can be. It’s got to start on the practice fields; you can’t turn it on and off on Friday nights,” Carroll said. “We got to be efficient and have high energy levels in practice and let that carry over into Friday nights.”
One adjustment Oceanside will have to make from last year’s team is replacing running back Armani Taylor. In 2007, Taylor had 2,104 total yards and scored 31 touchdowns. One player who should help shoulder the load offensively is quarterback Jordan Wynn, who returns after putting up big numbers in the Pirates’ spread offense last season.
Defensively, Oceanside runs a multiple eight-man front. Carroll said two standouts on defense are both inside linebackers, senior Justin Vaeena and junior Jake Fely.
Carroll said that even as the team closes out its camp, they still have some learning to do.
“Guys are here, guys are battling – I like that,” Carroll said. “But when your legs get tired you still have to force yourself to go hard and that’s something that has to be learned; it doesn’t come easy. And that’s something we have to keep working on.”
After spending years in the Avocado League with Division I schools such as Carlsbad and Rancho Buena Vista, Oceanside returns to the Valley League, a less rigorous Division II slate. That doesn’t matter to Carroll.
“We have no control over it, so it’s wherever we are,” Carroll said. “We had success in the Avocado League too. So if we’re as good as we can be and we maximize our potential, then we have a chance to be good no matter where we’re at.”
The Pirates kick off the 2008 season with a pair of road contests, playing at Eastlake on Sept. 5 and taking on crosstown rival El Camino on Sept. 12.
For more San Diego high school football, visit the High School Red Zone at www.sdreader.com/football.