Monte Vista Christian junior Dominic Pierini and his teammates were eager to get back on the football field for their first official day of practice on Aug. 4.
So much so, they were already on the field just as the clock struck midnight and wasted little to no time preparing for the upcoming 2023 season.
The Midnight Madness event continued with a slumber party inside the gymnasium and then it was capped off with another morning practice session.
“It definitely brings us closer,” Pierini said. “We had a lot of good talks before Midnight Madness and I really think we’re getting closer as a team, and as a brotherhood.”
Spencer Ferrari-Wood is taking over an MVC program that is looking to turn things around following back-to-back losing seasons and one that was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.
“I want a chance to impact these kids, try to have a role and help shape the young boys into men,” he said.
The 31-year-old Georgia native made the trek to Watsonville from Chattanooga, Tenn. where he was an assistant coach at Baylor School.
Ferrari-Wood spent the past two years under legendary head coach Erik Kimrey and helped Baylor capture the 2022 State Championship in Tennessee’s highest classification.
Prior to that, Ferrari-Wood took a position as the offensive coordinator for the Munich Cowboys in Germany, followed by a head coach gig for the Belgian National Team in 2018. He has played or coached football professionally in Germany, Austria, Poland and Belgium.
MVC finished with a 3-7 overall record and placed sixth in the Pacific Coast Athletic League Mission Division with a 1-5 record in league play in 2022.
Pierini said he knows they haven’t been that successful as of recent but he wants to switch that fast, starting with winning games and playing with more intensity.
“I just see more of a drive,” he said. “Everyone’s more into it. I just see everyone wants it right now.”
Pierini said Ferrari-Wood has been both a great coach and teacher that demands respect both ways, which means there’s no messing around on the field.
“He really pushes us the best way,” Pierini said.
Pierini had his number called last season and became MVC’s starting quarterback as a sophomore, which he believes was great preparation for his upcoming junior and senior years.
“We’re gonna go as far as [Pierini] takes us,” Ferrari-Wood said. “I’m excited about his progress.”
The Mustangs participated in 7-on-7 passing drills during the summer at Harbor and Christopher high schools where they got a great opportunity to see the plays opponents ran on them.
Senior lineman Wesley Stalker admitted this season already feels different from being coached last year. He said practices are much more hands-on and any mistakes made by the players are fixed immediately.
“We got a really nice group of guys who if they aren’t the best, they’ll work to improve,” he said. “Coach Ferrari, he knows what he’s doing. He demands excellence and he’s coming from a background of very successful teams.”
Stalker also liked the idea of having more team bonding events such as Midnight Madness, which he believes made them the closest Mustangs group in prior years.
“I think that’s really making our team successful,” he said.
Stalker mentioned it’s the small things that are important, such as getting off the line when the ball is not snapped or something simple as lining up behind the blue line when they’re looking at the coaches.
“It’s just the little details that matter the most and that’s what’s gonna help us win the games,” he said.
Stalker is one of the primary linebackers on defense and at times an anchor on the offensive line. Last season he didn’t play much because the seniors got most of the playing time.
Still, he made sure to take mental notes and going into the 2023 campaign he decided to step up as a leader for other linebackers looking to improve.
“We got a great group and it’s making my job easy, honestly,” he said.
Stalker is excited to have fellow teammates senior Dylan Gowdy along with juniors Max Torres, Gunner Sorensen and Dylan Rush join him on defense.
“These guys are very very coachable, listen to coach [Ferrari-Wood] and correct it immediately,” Stalker said. “We got a really solid group of linebackers this year.”
Other standout players set to shine include junior Nico Downie and seniors Connor Pallot and Anthony Loredo, who Ferrari-Wood believes will make a huge impact on the field with both his strength and quickness.
“[Loredo’s] going to be a good player,” Ferrari-Wood said.
MVC kicks off the season at Los Altos High on Aug. 25 at 7pm. They are set to compete in the PCAL Mission North Division—formerly known as just the Mission Division before it was split into North and South (Alisal, Carmel, King City, North Salinas, Pacific Grove, Rancho San Juan and Soledad).
The Mustangs will be battle tested against familiar foes in North Monterey County, Scotts Valley, Santa Cruz, St. Francis, Watsonville and last year’s runner-up Seaside.
The season has yet to officially kick off for MVC, yet Stalker said he’s already confident enough to start looking forward to the Central Coast Section playoffs.
“I think that we’ll learn a lot from the teams we play this year,” he said. “If we just watch film, do our assignments, I think we’ll make it pretty high at CCS.”