BVarsity Blog

Friday, Aug 16 2013 04:00 PM

2013 HS football previews: Highland

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BY ZACH EWING Californian staff writer

For teams playing in Week 0, the time has come for intrasquad scrimmages. In fact, Garces already got the party started with its scrimmage last night because the school's seniors have an out-of-town retreat this weekend. I went out and watched the first 20 minutes or so. Intrasquad is difficult to gauge sometimes — was that good offense or bad defense, or both? — but I came away impressed with the young Rams. They have a pretty good foundation in junior running back Sheldon Croney, but there are other players there, too.

But we'll get to the Rams. The really good thing about intrasquad scrimmages is that they mean we're a week away from inter-squd scrimmages, which means Stockdale senior Anthony Wood and all of the other players around the state will finally be able to line up against an unfamiliar face.

Until then, we'll have to keep waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

And previewing, of course.

Countdown to Week 0: 14 days


Coach: Steve Montanio (third year)

2012 record: 4-6 (2-3 Southeast Yosemite League, 1-4 home)
Average points: 13.1
Average points allowed: 28.9
Average rush yards: N/A
Average rush yards allowed: 213.2
Average pass yards: N/A
Average pass yards allowed: 111.4
Best win: Highland 24, Golden Valley 20
Worst loss: East 34, Highland 6
*—yardage figures are from MaxPreps and are only used if at least half of games are available. Take them with a grain of salt. Figure could be skewed depending on which games, if any, are missing

Key players: Breaker Brannan, jr, QB/LB; Richard Ortiz, sr, OL/DL; John Stanley, sr, RB/LB; Nick Romero, DL/LB

Key losses: Tyler Kirkland, RB/LB; Robert Lopez, OL/DL; Jack Lopez, RB/LB; Brendan Johnson, RB/DB

Offense: The Scots are in a similar situation to West, which we talked about Monday. Like the Vikings, Highland is in Year 2 of a wing-T offense, meaning players should pick up on language and schemes more quickly and easily this time around. Also like West, Highland has the added bonus of plenty of returners. That list starts with junior quarterback Breaker Brannan, although Steve Montanio has said that if Brian Garcia, who  was Brannan's backup a year ago, can win the job, he would be happy with Brannan playing full-time at linebacker, too. Three starters return on the offensive line, with left tackle Richard Ortiz the most prominent, and Dave Garcia returns as a wide receiver. But in a wing-T, you've got to have a few someones to run the ball, and that's where the Scots have to answer some questions. John Stanley is a good bet for some carries, as is Cole Frayne, a senior who didn't play last year. JV call-ups will man the other spots, and all of them will have every opportunity to develop into big-yardage rushers in a run-heavy offense with lots of experience everywhere else.

Defense: There aren't lots of losses, but the defenders who did graduate were significant, starting with linebackers Tre Ayers, Tyler Kirkland and Jack Lopez. Montanio hopes the Scots can be better and deeper across the defense, though, and he's fostered that feeling with plenty of open competitions in the fall. Ortiz will double as a defensive lineman, and Stanley will also go both ways at linebacker. Nick Romero needs to rack up tackles at linebacker, though he might also play on the line, and Brannan will help out on defense even if he keeps the starting quarterback position. Montanio also said this is a deeper unit, more capable of withstanding injuries than it was a year ago.

Outlook: It's not easy for a coach to shift philosophies, but Montanio has gone all-in with the wing-T and a swarming defense, figuring that Highland is more likely to get smaller, quicker athletes. What he needs now in the second year after the switch is more consistency. Highland looked the part at times last year, beating Golden Valley, Mira Monte and Foothill in three impressive performances but suffering ugly losses to South and East in between. That was OK for last year; the Scots were young, and ups and downs are to be expected. That shouldn't be the case so much in 2013, though one problem most of these east-side teams are going to discover is that it's possible all of them — North, Foothill, Highland and East — are better, making wins just as scarce. If one of them gets on a roll, that can be the team that pushes Garces and/or Tehachapi. For Highland to be that team, the Scots need to rely on the line early and hope that a star running back (or a nice committee) emerges and that defense by committee is effective defense. That's a lot of ifs, but none are out of the question.

Quotable: "For me, we've been preaching consistency to our kids. Be consistent and execute. Everything else will take care of itself. We just need to be in the best condition, get people off the ball and be quick to holes, and we'll be successful." — Montanio

Schedule: Aug. 30 Arvin
Sept. 6 at South
Sept. 13 Golden Valley
Sept. 20 at Independence
Sept. 27 BYE
Oct. 4 Mira Monte
Oct. 11 at Garces*
Oct. 18 at Tehachapi*
Oct. 25 East*
Nov. 1 at North*
Nov. 8 Foothill*
*—SEYL game

Prediction: 3-7, 2-3 SEYL

2013 HS football preview index
Aug. 1: 8-man schools
Aug. 2: Burroughs, Boron, Desert
Aug. 3: Rosamond, California City
Aug. 4: Frazier Mountain, Kern Valley
Aug. 5: McFarland, Delano, Kennedy
Aug. 6: Chavez
Aug. 6: Shafter
Aug. 7: Arvin
Aug. 7: Taft
Aug. 8: Wasco
Aug. 8: Bakersfield Christian
Aug. 9: Mira Monte
Aug. 10: Golden Valley
Aug. 11: South
Aug. 12: West
Aug. 13: Ridgeview
Aug. 14: North
Aug. 15: Foothill

Tomorrow: East

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