After a few years of instability, Mountain View football seems to be in a good place. After three coaches in three years, Bam McRae has come to the school and put his own stamp on the program. McRae now enters year three and the team is looking for their third straight playoff appearance.
The team lost a number of players, but have built up the overall depth in the program.
“I think ultimately in our step of going into year three of building our program we are getting better quality of athletes and kids who really want to play the game of football,” explained McRae.
The program must replace 30 seniors, but has created great depth by building up the overall numbers in the program. Area players who might have looked at going to CDO or Ironwood Ridge, now seem more likely to stay in the area.
“We are getting the commitment from the kids, the parents and the community that we need,” said Offensive Coordinator Robert Summerset. “Mountain View has always been a great program, so it hasn’t been hard to turn things around. The kids believe they feel we are on the right track, so it wont be long at all.”
This will be a very young team. They lose 30 seniors off of last year’s team, most of whom stuck through the tough times during the transition from coach to coach.
“As a team we are very young with just a few older guys,” McRae said. “We are only returning five starters from both sides of the ball, which means a lot of young guys will have an opportunity to play.”
McRae estimates only five or six seniors will start, meaning this team will be led by their youth. Not only have the lower levels produced great talent, but they had a number of talented players transfer into the area, including University of Arizona verbal commitment Demetrious Flannigan, who will play defensive back for the team and could also help at receiver.
Among the departing seniors the team loses starting quarterback Cody Rochon and running back Richie Estrada. Estrada will be especially though to replace as he was one of the best running backs in southern Arizona last season.
Dylan Henschel, Tucson High transfer Bryce Coleman and a few others will try to replace Estrada’s 1,700 rusing yards. Henschel toted the ball 20 times last season, while Coleman had over 900 yards rushing for the Badgers.
The battle for quarterback is wide open. Four players are still vying for the quarterback spot. Justice Summerset, DeShaun Flannigan, Caleb Ryden and Anthony Leyva have all worked hard to replace Rochon. All four are terrific athletes and can add an extra running element to the offense.
In fact, expect to see some slight changes to the Mountain Lions’ offense this season. They will not abandon their power running game, but expect to see more wide-open spread elements to take advantage of their athleticism.
“I was always a tough three yards and a cloud of dust kind of guy,” said Summerset. “All of the sudden now you have this wide open football and all this athleticism on the field. We do have some new toys to play with.”
“As you get the better kids and better athletes I try to do what fits their build,” McRae added. “We will still run the ball and be a hardnosed team and get downhill at people but at the same time we are getting better at stretching the field in different ways.”
The receiving corps is stocked with young receivers and is a fairly deep group. Sam Ross, Jeff Cotton and Enrique Sparkman all have experience at the position.
The offensive line will feature four new starters. Paul O’Donnell is a three-year starter and will anchor the line at center. J.P. Ramirez, a starter at linebacker, may also play on the line. Ryan Potter, Colt Soberg and Jake Darrow are guys who will see time up front, though McRae promises a number of players will help bolster the line.
Defensively, the team will not change much as they have been one of the stouter defenses in the area.
“Our strength on the team is how we play the game,” McRae said. “Whether they are big or small we definitely get after people.”
McRae did say with their upgraded athleticism, that they will be able to gamble a little bit more and try a few new wrinkles.
Their defensive backfield are very experienced with Summerset and Justin Gauna returning at safety.
Ross, Ramirez, Sparkman and Tommy Lawrence are all key members of the defense, as is Demetrius Flannigan who will play defensive back for the Wildcats in a year.
“We have kids all over it is just ulitimately getting them to play the game fast, hard and playing together,” McRae said.
The Mountain Lions open up at home against Marana, then play four of their next five on the road, including tough games against Cienega, Mesquite and Salpointe.