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Prep Sports Preview: La Jolla football teams groom young players for strong season

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The La Jolla High School Vikings football team run drills during practice.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

This year’s high school football season begins with the local favorite match-up “Battle for Pearl Street,” when the La Jolla High School Vikings take on The Bishop’s School Knights, 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 23 at Edwards Stadium on the La Jolla High campus, 750 Nautilus St.

But whether you’re there for the cross-Village rivalry or plan to follow one team all season, here’s what you can expect:

The Bishop’s School

After losing only six seniors last year, the Knights are building upon a strong foundation for this year’s team.

Coach Joel Allen explained that when it comes to the positions that handle the ball and are most responsible for scoring points, “we are very solid” and “excited about the kids coming back in these positions.”

Specifically, he noted Charlie Mossy, a senior captain touted as the “physical leader” of the team; Clay Petri, who was a strong presence on the team last year; Clarence Freeman, who led the county in receiving last year; and Tyler Buchner, a quarterback who was injured last year.

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“The students we had were younger last year overall; we only had six seniors, and some of our juniors got hurt, so a lot of our skill players were sophomores,” Allen said.

But, having played together for at least one season, the Knights are eager to get back on the field.

“These kids are committed,” Allen continued. “Players that start younger and have been in the program do not have to start at square one, and this gives us coaches the chance to build on what we had last year. It’s a lot less about plays, it’s about getting an environment where kids want to be here on a Saturday morning in the summer, and in the afternoons before the school year starts. They are hungry and excited, and dying to get on the field and play.”

With the exception of the game against University City High School (see schedule in box), the lineup of opponents is one the Knights have seen before and are familiar with. Allen said: “We’re looking forward to opening the season against La Jolla High; it’s always a great game.”

La Jolla High School

After a less-than-stellar season in 2018 (3-7 overall), the Vikings are learning from their previous trials and tribulations to grow this season. Last year’s varsity team was thin on seniors, so most, if not all, players are returning, hungrier than ever to take home some wins.

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“We have a great group,” said Coach Tyler Roach. “They are all coming in with a year of varsity experience under their belts, and the adversity of last season has really fueled their off-season regime. They have really put in the time this summer in training and in the weight room. They’ve come a long way in the last seven months.”

Further reflecting on the most recent season, Roach added: “We learned to trust the process, because you don’t magically have success ... you have to work for it. As tough as the last season was, it hardened us a bit. It gave the guys a taste of what it’s like to be on that side, and gave us the hunger to get to the other side with more wins.”

Calling this year’s squad “a talented group of guys,” Roach called out the team’s two quarterbacks: Diego Solis, who is coming back from last year, where he started seven games; and Jackson Stratton, who is coming up from the freshman team, and started one game on varsity last year.

“They have two totally different styles and are totally dynamic in what they can do,” he said. “We are trying to get them both on the field.”

On defense, Roach said players such as junior Max Smith; senior Jack Wiese, junior Dirk Germon and senior Finn Rice are “primed to have a great year.”

But, he noted: “There aren’t a lot of ‘me’ guys” on the team this year, and the “camaraderie is at an all-time high. This is, by far, the best camaraderie I’ve seen from a group in my three years as head coach.”

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2019 Football Schedule

La Jolla High Vikings home games at Edwards Stadium, 750 Nautilus St.:

• 7 p.m. Aug. 23 vs The Bishop’s School

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• 7 p.m. Aug. 30 vs Mission Bay

• 7 p.m. Sept. 6 vs Santa Fe Christian

• 7 p.m. Sept. 13 vs Del Norte

• 6:30 p.m. Oct. 11 vs Morse (Homecoming)

• 7 p.m. Nov. 1 vs Christian

The Bishop’s School Knights home games, also at Edwards Stadium, 750 Nautilus St.:

• 7 p.m. Aug. 23 vs La Jolla High

• 7 p.m. Sept. 7 vs Mater Dei Catholic

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• 7 p.m. Sept. 27 vs Francis Parker (Bish Bowl game)

• 7 p.m. Oct. 19 vs Tri-City Christian

• 7 p.m. Nov. 1 vs Santa Fe Christian (at La Jolla Country Day School, 9490 Genesee Ave.)


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