WATSONVILLE—The word “brotherhood” has been preached quite a lot since the Monte Vista Christian School football team began to condition in June.
That fellowship continues to grow as senior Aiden Keegan along with some of the other upperclassmen consistently analyze the second-team during practice, applauding when something goes correct but giving advice when things don’t go quite the right way.
“It’s wanting each other to be better because we want someone who we can count on if we go down,” Keegan said. “Also, they’re going to be filling our shoes next year so it’s really important that they play to our level.”
Senior quarterback Mark Spohn believes the biggest difference for them was being able to have a summer period to work out the kinks.
“Our summer really helped us get in a good spot for our preseason and I’m excited for our jamboree,” Spohn said.
MVC will scrimmage Friday in the Apple Cider Jamboree at Watsonville High, squaring off against cross-town rivals Pajaro Valley, St. Francis and Watsonville high schools.
During the summer, the Mustangs participated in several 7-on-7 tournaments including one they hosted against Gilroy High at the end of June.
MVC returns to the Pacific Coast Athletic League Gabilan Division after spending last season in the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League where they finished with a 4-1 overall record.
They begin league play against Salinas High on Sept. 11 at 7:30 pm at “The Pit” at Salinas High School.
Spohn is replacing Brendan Doyle, the reigning Most Valuable Player of the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League. The Mustangs will also be without the services of the league’s Offensive Lineman of the Year, Nathan Fernandez.
Senior offensive lineman Andrew Hendrickson said one of the biggest downfalls of last season is that they had a group of talented players that didn’t get the challenge or the film that they deserved.
“I think we’re blessed as a team to be out there in the Gabilan fighting against the biggest dogs in our area,” he said.
Spohn said they don’t have a huge roster compared to other schools but they have a lot of returning and new players that should fit in nicely with the program.
“I’d say we’re all pretty close and we’re trying to make everyone better, and each other better everyday and we can use every guy we got,” he said.
MVC coach Jeremiah “J.B.” Williams said he expects this year’s group to be balanced, bringing in 70 kids program-wide for a school with 500 high school students. He added that it’s some of the best numbers he’s seen since joining the team as an assistant coach.
“The work ethic, the continuity and the chemistry is amazing,” said Williams in a previous interview with this publication.
Spohn said the offensive line has come together as of lately and they’ve been working hard to get on the same page. The Mustangs will run the wing-T offense and he’s excited to see what the rest of the guys can do this upcoming season.
“We can mix in a lot of our run plays and hit all the holes in different positions, utilizing all of our guys that we have,” he said.
Hendrickson was going to the weightroom everyday and attended the Stanford, Sacramento State and San Jose State football camps with two other players including senior lineman Clayton King.
“As a lineman, it was important for lifting and we got a couple of guys in the same garages, lifting weights. Just getting stronger,” Hendrickson said.
Again, there’s that sense of brotherhood with teammates going to football camps together instead of on their own. Hendrickson said that Williams has reminded them in the past that it’s their team, not the coaches’.
“Everytime I’m out there huffing and puffing, I’m thinking about the guy next to me,” he said.
King said they were cohesive as a unit on the first day of practice. He felt a genuine camaraderie on the team as players pushed each other to work harder.
“We just keep getting better every day, keep doing what we’re doing and we’ll get there in no time,” he said.
Keegan added that they have been moving a lot better and look sharper since they began conditioning in June. To him, that means getting the plays down and not making mistakes.
Keegan believes they’re going to put up a fight against anyone standing in their way and the biggest goal for them is to qualify for the Central Coast Section playoffs.
“I have hope that we’re going to make it there, but I also think we are going to make it there,” he said. “I think we’re going to make a statement this year.”
The Mustangs begin their season against North Monterey County High in a non-league meeting on Aug 26 at 7:30pm. It’s one of the few games in the area that will be played on Thursday instead of Friday night.
MVC football schedule
North Monterey County High, 8/26 at 7:30pm
At Carmel High, 9/4 at 2pm
At Salinas High*, 9/11 at 7:30pm
Palma High*, 9/17 at 7:30pm
Christopher High*, 9/24 at 7:30pm
At Alisal High*, 10/8 at 7:30pm
Seaside High*, 10/14 at 7:30pm
At Alvarez High*, 10/22 at 7:30pm
At San Benito High*, 10/29 at 7:30pm
Aptos High*, 11/5 at 7:30pm
*PCAL-Gabilan division play