Standing at about the 35-yard line following a scrimmage with San Benito and Christopher last Friday night, first-year Gilroy High School varsity football head coach Brian Boyd improvised a possible motto for the Mustangs in 2012.
“It can be done,” said Boyd, as he scoured the field at his group of players. “We don’t have huge numbers. But when I was a junior, we had 24 players. Nine played both ways. And we played for a CCS title. It can be done. If they do their stuff and stay healthy, we will compete. And that’s our goal – to compete in every game and make teams talk about us.”
Boyd was brought in to establish consistency throughout the football program. But upon taking the reins in May, the Mustangs’ fourth coach since 2008 was welcomed by a number of issues blocking a harmonious transition into the 2012 season.
One in particular took a tad bit longer to iron out.
Boyd and the Mustangs twice thought during the offseason that it had its next starting quarterback pegged. And twice, it didn’t pan out. With four nights until Week 1 of the 2012 season, the QB carousel has finally stopped for good.
In steps senior Mike Guerrero, and Boyd thinks this latest option is the charm.
“I am extremely happy with Mike,” Boyd said. “He came to us. He knows the whole offense. He has a good arm and he is able to find the open man.”
Guerrero, who assumed the starting role as practice commenced last Monday, took all the reps behind center at the scrimmage, looking comfortable enough to complete a pair of long touchdown passes.
“It’s going good,” said Guerrero, who was the primary back-up to now-graduated Niko Fortino last season. “I’m not really worried. I know that I have a solid line in front of me.”
The anchors of that line are seniors Izack Lugo and Jonathan Aguilar, whose main objectives will be to give Guerrero enough time in the shot gun and lead star running back Brandon Boyd into daylight.
Boyd (5-foot-10, 180 pounds), who scampered for 1,128 yards in a Sophomore of the Year campaign a year ago, is now a junior and 20 pounds heavier this season. Boyd said he is ready for the challenge of being focal point of the Mustangs’ offense, whether in zone read options or out of the back field as an outlet receiver.
“We are prepared for anything,” said Boyd, who will also play defense as well – much like most of the 37 Mustangs. “We didn’t do a lot of believing in ourselves last year. I think this season we are believing in each other and ourselves.”
The Mustangs do have to replace a pair of wide receivers – Jourdan Soares and Christian Goldstein – who accounted for a combined 1,880 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2011. Senior Brendan Holler, who is back at full strength and about 12 pounds heavier, will fill one outside void. Holler (6-foot-2) had 26 catches for 445 yards in an injury-hampered 2011. He will be a viable deep threat for Guerrero. Jared York and Jose Salazar will also line up wide.
When he returns from an offseason injury, running back Jordan Goldstein will be another asset on offense.
With the quarterback question situation smoothed out for now, and with signs pointing toward enough pieces in place to give offensive coordinator Bobby Griffith plenty of moves, there isn’t really a way to muddle the single-most important criteria GHS must follow to put together its first above-.500 season since 2008.
It goes beyond getting the ball into the end zone, rather, it’s more about keeping the other team out. Simplified further – tackle. And sound tackling translates into stopping the run.
“The first thing I did was bring Darius Alexander-Jones Sr. as defensive coordinator,” Brian Boyd said. “We needed to get good at one thing defensively and then work off of that. And in our league it’s stopping the run.”
The Mustangs gave up an average of 40 points per game in 2011, and for the third year in a row surrendered more than they earned.
It is, in part, a functional explanation as to why the Mustangs have won just 11 games over the last three seasons. Though GHS made the postseason with a 4-6 record in 2009, records of 2-8 in 2010 and 4-6 in 2011 kept the Mustangs on the outside looking in at the playoffs.
Gilroy will use four linebackers this season with the objective being limiting the potential for big gainers on the outside. Ricky Alvarado will be a big part of that.
Not allowing ball carriers to get to the second level of the defense is first and foremost, however. The Mustangs will look toward Lugo, Aguilar, as well as a pair of sophomores, Devin Nguyen and Michael Lasquette, in that facet, Boyd said. Luke Otteson and Kyle Loera will bookend the defensive front.
“These guys are pretty tight,” Boyd said. “We have made them like a family. They hold each other accountable for their actions. It’s about being respectful and disciplined, which are parts of football that will make us better.”
• For the fourth year in a row the Mustangs open the season against Live Oak. GHS has won the previous three. This year’s contest is slated for Friday at 7 p.m. in Morgan Hill. The rest of Gilroy’s nonleague slate includes an away game against Sobrato High School and home games versus Monte Vista Christian and Pajaro Valley.
• A loaded Monterey Bay League Gabilan Division schedule includes away dates against Salinas and Palma and home tilts opposite San Benito and Christopher.
Friday @ Live Oak , 7
Sept. 8 @ Sobrato , 6
Sept. 14 vs. Monte Vista Christian, 7:30
Sept. 21 vs. Pajaro Valley
Sept. 28 @ Salinas, 7:30
Oct. 5 vs. Monterey, 7:30
Oct. 11 at Alvarez, 7
Oct. 19 vs. San Benito, 7:30
Nov. 2 at Palma, 7
Nov. 9 vs. Christopher, 7:30