WATSONVILLE—The St. Francis High football team had undoubtedly the best season in the program’s short illustrious history in 2021.
The Sharks captured the Pacific Coast Athletic League’s Santa Lucia Division title—going undefeated in league play—and finished runner-up in the Central Coast Section Division V championship game.
That means all eyes will be on the “Maroon and Gray” this season in their attempt to repeat as league champion and another deep run in the postseason.
St. Francis coach John Ausman said right now the only thing he needs to worry about is improving on a weekly basis and focus on what’s in front of them.
“When you show up on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday, you kind of let the chips fall and you try to just get better each and every week,” he said. “If you trust the process, the outcomes, whether they’re good or bad, are deserved and you can sleep well at night.”
Ausman has probably been able to get a good night’s rest lately knowing this year’s roster is full of experienced players who have numerous games under their belts.
This year’s senior class is 14 deep but when Reece Borrmann and Diego Wolfe were freshmen it was a much smaller group.
Ausman said they don’t have a whole lot of four-year guys and both Borrmann and Wolfe have been through it all.
“They’re some of the leaders in that senior class because of the four-year experience,” Ausman said.
Borrmann said they might be experienced, yet, they’re far from being cocky. He mentioned that they’ve kept their heads down and put in the same work just like they’re at the bottom trying to get to the top.
“Just because we won last season doesn’t mean we’re going to be great this season,” he said.
The Sharks finished 9-4 overall and 4-0 in league. The program won its first ever CCS playoff game in a 38-7 victory over Cupertino before beating Los Altos, 56-35, to reach the final.
St. Francis lost to Aragon of San Mateo, 38-14, in the D-V title game.
Borrmann, a defensive back and receiver, said they’re putting in even more effort than last year to let people know this group can be their own team.
“It wasn’t just a fluke,” he said.
Wolfe, a running back and outside linebacker, said he also doesn’t want last year’s success to be seen as a Cinderella story.
Despite the school’s small enrollment which usually lends itself to a small roster compared to other schools, he said they’ve been putting in a full effort. Wolfe was impressed and almost in awe watching his teammates square up against the bigger teams at last week’s Santa Cruz County Jamboree.
Now it’s just keeping up the consistency and keeping bodies healthy, Wolfe said.
“Putting in that work and showing them that we’re not just some random school in Watsonville,” he said.
Wolfe is coming off a meniscus tear from last season that sidelined him for the first eight weeks. He saw some action in four games but it wasn’t enough.
“I’m really hungry right now, I want to play,” he said.
The goal this year for Wolfe is staying healthy and putting in a full effort not only for his current classmates but for the senior class from last year.
“I want to show them that we are a varsity team and we’re together, and have our chemistry well and could win together,” he said.
Wolfe is stoked about the receiver core and the offensive line that includes seven seniors with plenty of experience. He mentioned no one’s been slacking and chemistry has been a big factor for them.
The Sharks will rely on right tackle Miguel Orozco, right guard Christian Johnson, center Steven LaGrange, left guards Darren Silva and Ramon Torres and left tackles Abram Tovar and Gabe Rivera-Corona to open holes for Wolfe and the rest of the running backs.
“Having the experience, although we had a pretty good line and had a bunch of seniors last year, they did get some important reps,” Ausman said. “They’re one of our keys to our success to kind of fill in those footsteps that allowed us to do what we did last year.”
Wolfe said he likes to teach his fellow teammates on both the varsity and JV teams, making sure to keep that family-type atmosphere at all levels.
“I love just teaching these kids, you gotta put in that full effort and to teach them really how to love the sport,” he said.
Wolfe added that his partner in crime, senior running back Nathaniel Madrigal-Hernandez, will be an asset in what will be a loaded backfield for the Sharks.
“We got along really well, he’s a dog and I love working with him,” Wolfe said.
Borrmann has been able to line up at any receiver position and added a new defensive back position to his resume just last week. He said he’s trying to help out the team and the younger players any way he can.
“Putting in the effort no matter where I’m at, what position I am, always pick up my teammates,” he said.
Senior quarterback Kyle Dyer will return as the team’s starter after a productive year under center. He’s been working with assistant coach Vern Calhoun and as of now they seem to be on the same page.
“I think we built on where we ended last year and so expect to expand the offense with him because of his maturity and coachability,” Ausman said.
Dyer and company will kick the season off against cross-town rival Monte Vista Christian in non-league action Saturday at 2pm.
Wolfe and Borrmann have yet to play a home game on their own campus since they arrived as freshmen.
Both players will finally be able to do so Saturday as they get set to play on a brand new turf field that was installed earlier this year.
Wolfe said coming from a dirt field of potholes to a state of the art surface feels amazing, while Borrmann added that it’s going to be nice not having to host games at Watsonville High or Cabrillo College anymore.
“Now we’re here with our own fans, we get to practice on this field,” Borrmann said. “That first day of summer workouts, that was a whole feeling and it just brought a lot to us.”
The Sharks will cap off non-league play with games against Stevenson, Greenfield and an inner city meeting against Pajaro Valley.
After going undefeated in league play last year, St. Francis was moved up from the Santa Lucia to the Cypress Division.
This year they’ll have to get past Watsonville, North Monterey County, Rancho San Juan, King City, Pacific Grove and Soledad in order to repeat as league champion.
Ausman said success from last year shouldn’t bring pressure but instead the raising of expectations. He believes many of the seniors understand that success and expectations, following in the same footsteps from last year’s senior class.
Ausman mentioned part of that is keeping both the varsity and JV teams on the same field at the same time.
“As a younger guy you’re always around the older guys. It’s not like you’re separated, you really get to learn a lot from those guys,” he said.
Wolfe said he feels like they still might have a target on their backs, especially coming off a Santa Lucia Division title run and an appearance in the CCS D-V championship.
“You always see that team coming up, moving up a division, you want to just try to show them that they don’t belong in the division,” he said. “But I don’t feel like it’ll affect any of us.”
Borrmann wants to let the public know that just because they’re a small team, it doesn’t mean they’ll back down. He said they still plan to come out to play and are not worried about what other people think.
“You can expect some hard work, some exciting football and we’re going to play it down to the very end,” he said. “We’re going to put in our all, so just be ready for that.”
St. Francis High football schedule
Monte Vista Christian, 8/27 at 2pm
Stevenson, 9/3 at 2pm
At Greenfield, 9/8 at 7:30pm
At Pajaro Valley, 9/17 at 7:30pm
At Watsonville*, 9/23 at 7:30pm
North Monterey County*, 10/1 at 2pm
Rancho San Juan*, 10/15 at 2pm
King City*, 10/21 at 7:30pm
At Pacific Grove*, 10/28 at 7:30pm
At Soledad*, 11/4 at 7:30pm
*PCAL Cypress division game