To build a new football team Jason McCloskey, head coach at Mountain House High School, has taken an inventory of skills and talents among the players that tried out for Mustang football in their first year at the high school.
It turned out that McCloskey had more players try out than he expected, and with just a junior varsity program this year – the school has just freshmen and sophomores this year – he had to go through a couple rounds of cuts to get his roster down to 43 players.
The result is a team that has experienced players, including those who came up from local youth programs and some who played as freshmen at Kimball High last year. McCloskey said it gives his program a good head start.
“If they’re a sophomore and came out to try out, they’d be in harm’s way, honestly, if they didn’t have the tools and skills that you’d learn in a youth or ninth grade football,” he said.
“We’re narrowing it down. Most of these guys have good backgrounds.”
McCloskey doesn’t expect that he will have large players in such a young crowd, but he does have strong athletes who can run his styles of option offense.
“It’s very hard to defend when you’re good at it. It’s also good for guys who are small and quick. That’s what I think we have,” he said.
“A lot of them have really showed me some grittiness. That’s good to see.
As of this week the quarterback job would likely go to either sophomore Sami Dhaoui or sophomore Antonio Fowler, who both played freshman football at Kimball last year,
Dhaoui said that most of the sophomores on team played with the Jaguars. Most of the team as a whole, though, is new.
“A lot of players on our team have never played before. So this summer we’ve just been getting ready for our first game,” Dhaoui said.
Fowler said his team also is building camaraderie.
“It’s nice to see all the kids who know that they’re doing and who played youth football helping the guys who are in their first year, showing them how to do it, getting the basics down,” he said. “There’s been a large increase in skill for the first year players over the past few weeks.”
McCloskey noted that freshman fullback and middle linebacker Jared Hamilton, who came up through the Mountain House Hurricanes youth program, also quickly became a vocal leader for the Mustangs.
“He’s a go-getter. The one who gets us lined up,” McCloskey said.
Others who McCloskey expects to have starting roles include sophomore running backs Lionel Orhiere and Quinn Kalabolas, freshman running back C.J. Maningo, sophomore wide receivers Cameron Palmer, Joey Corden and Josh Grande and sophomore tight end Josh Anderson. Linemen include sophomore Miguel Nevarez, and freshman Chase Clements, the team’s center.
The challenge for the Mustangs is a schedule with a variety of teams from around Northern California, but none from the Trans Valley League, where the Mustangs will play next year when they field a varsity squad.
McCloskey said that now he just wants to see how players execute his plays once they get into games, with the expectation that about half of what works in practice will turn out much different against determined opponents.
“It’s going to be week-by-week in game planning, seeing what kind of defenses certain people play,” he said.
The Mustangs open their season tonight at Gregori High in Modesto against the Beyer High freshman team. Game time is 3:30 p.m. The first home game is Sept. 5 against the Elk Grove High junior varsity team, with kickoff at 6 p.m.
Mountain House football schedule
Aug. 29 - Away at Beyer (Gregori High, Modesto) 3:30 p.m.
Sept. 5 - Home vs. Elk Grove 6 p.m.
Sept. 19 - Away at Bret Harte (Angels Camp) 5:30 p.m.
Sept. 25 - Home vs. Hilmar 6 p.m.
Oct. 3 - Home vs. Madison Park Business and Art Academy 7 p.m.
Oct. 11 - Away at Scotts Valley 1 p.m.
Oct. 18 - Away at Harker (San Jose) Noon
Oct. 23 - Home vs. Sonora 5 p.m.
Nov. 6 - Home vs. Dougherty Valley 7 p.m.
Home games will be played at Mountain House High School, 1090 S. Central Parkway
Contact Bob Brownne at firstname.lastname@example.org or 830-4227.