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Prep Football Preview: Hesperia takes on youth movement
Scorps look to bounce back from back-to-back 1-9 seasons
HESPERIA • The future looks bright for the Hesperia football team. But as head coach Jeremy Topete likes to say, the future is now.
A contradiction? Not quite.
After three years of struggles that have amounted to just a 5-25 record since their 11-1 season in 2008, the Scorpions feel like they are headed in the right direction. They’ll have a roster dominated by sophomores and just a handful of seniors this year. And the youngsters have brought a certain pizzazz to the team, Topete said.
“Some would see it as a negative, but I think the strength of our team is our youthfulness because they just want to go out and play,” Topete said.
“I love our team chemistry. I think we are so young, the freshman group that came up is such a tight-knit group, and we are so sophomore dominated that I think that closeness spills over to the juniors and the few seniors that we have.”
The sophomore group includes Austin Williams — who is competing for the starting quarterback job — and wide receiver, returner and defensive back Alex Hammond, who Topete said is “in a similar mold as Jay Waddell.”
This year’s sophomores bonded last year on their way to a 6-4 record on the Frosh/Soph team, a team that was almost all freshmen according to Topete. While several players said the varsity team has had problems sticking together in recent years, the same wasn’t a problem for the freshmen. Some of the players would opt to eat lunch inside the football film room together.
“They wouldn’t even go onto the campus at lunch,” Topete said. “They’d ask for the key to the film room, and they’d all hang out together in the film room. In previous years everybody would just hang out in the quad and hang out with their buddies out there.”
It’s a feeling of camaraderie several players said has spread to the rest of the team. That attitude was further cemented with a team barbecue in early July.
“We all bonded,” said senior Andres Perez of the cookout. “We’re planning to keep it as a tradition.”
Despite back-to-back 1-9 seasons, Topete said there has been progress. Player numbers are up since the opening of Oak Hills, which left Hesperia down. This year’s freshman class hovers just below 50. A few freshmen even have an opportunity to make varsity, something Topete said hasn’t happened in the past.
The Scorpions will look to run the ball more this season and ditch the spread offense. Junior Rob Campos is competing with Williams to replace James Manibusan, who graduated, under center. Topete said the battle should culminate with the Scorpions’ scrimmage Friday against Yucca Valley.
At running back, juniors Chris Crummel and Semaje Williams are expected to get the bulk of the carries.
“It’s going to be a better season,” Chris Crummel said. “More improvement. We have a lot of guys stepping up this year.”
On defense, Hesperia will run a four-man front guided by new defensive coordinator Joe Williams, who was the Frosh/Soph coach last season and previously an assistant at Victor Valley.
Topete wouldn’t guarantee wins and said the ultimate goal is just to compete.
“We know nobody respects us,” Topete said. “We know we have to go out and earn that, and our kids are fully prepared to do that.”
Matthew Peters can be reached at email@example.com or (760) 955-5365.