After working with and developing the talents of young athletes for four years, the “G” word rears its ugly head, and all the growth and improvement made over the span vanishes — in the case of Point Loma High School — in a maroon-colored cap and gown.
But with the lament of another graduating class moving on comes the promise of a new crop of student-athletes.
The best high school coaches are those who are highly skilled at identifying who, among an annual mob of squeaky-voiced freshmen, can be molded and polished into another collection of athletic gems before they, too, depart.
Mike Hastings and his tight group of assistants at Point Loma High School do this as well as anyone.
Taking over for the iconic Bennie Edens in 1998, Hastings, who played his high school football at University (now Cathedral) High and went on to play at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, has put his own signature on a Pointer program that continues to win both on and off the field.
Game scores are seen by the public, but like his predecessor, Hastings holds his athletes to a high standard of conduct at school, in the community and at home. These are the intangibles, the unknown work of a caring coach that often escapes the public’s eye.
As Pointer fans eagerly await the referee’s 3 p.m. whistle signaling kickoff at the varsity home opener on Sept. 1, Hastings offered this breakdown of his current team.
“I think our defense will be our strong suit, but we have a lot of speed on offense and we have a lot of big play-making ability. Our quarterbacks have worked really hard to become more versatile as far as passing the ball, and our throwing game has opened up a lot. I think we’ll have a more balanced attack, but the ground-based arsenal is what we’ve relied on for years. I think we’ll have an excellent running game and a much-improved passing game.”
Quarterback: “We have three seniors that have done a great job all spring and summer (Branden Martin, Sam Augustine and Avery Cramer) and junior Quinn Bohannon has competed well, too. Right now in the middle of camp, we’ve got a great competition going.”
Running backs: “We have a couple returning guys (Johnny Maes and D.J. Lacy), both of whom are fast and explosive runners. Oscar Moya is a very strong, physical fullback and we’re very excited he gets to blossom and play this role.”
Z-back: “We use this position for speed to run our outside sweeps, and we’re very fortunate to have guys like Ja’Marcus Watkins coming up from the JV and Sydney Rush, a returner, who is one of the best at what he does. Both are very quick.”
Offensive Line: “We have some very good guys coming back, such as Jovanny Sanchez and Brian Thepkaysone. We were really sad when another returning leader, Anthony Riccardulli, went down with a serious leg injury during spring practice. Some of the big kids coming up are Zack Zugovitz, Michael Serrano, Jared Polonitza and Seth Irby, a sophomore who earned a starting position at center. They’ll be backed up by guys like Kevin Ford and Andrew Caparell. This will be the biggest offensive line we’ve had in years (averaging 6 feet 2 inches and nearly 260 pounds).”
Wide receiver: “Two guys are competing really hard. Drew Rutledge played JV and varsity last year, and Raymond Goncalves, who has gotten a lot stronger and faster since his junior year.”
Tight end: “We have three players here (Jake Wambaugh, Chad Ahumada and Bennett Reeber) all doing well in camp. Jake is playing a lot of defense, so Chad and Bennett are getting the majority of snaps in practice.”
Defensive backs: “Our defense is really anchored by our backs, and here we have free safety Zach Eischen and strong safety Jamal Agnew, both three-year lettermen. At corner, Sydney Rush is a shutdown guy along with Grant Wilburn. Backing up both of them is Adrian Bueno coming up from JV.”
Linebackers: “Senior Greg Verdugo is a returning second-team All-League kid, and an outstanding junior, Tanner Manion, who is talented, strong, athletic and only going to get better. Another returner, Tristan Bier, makes this a strong group.”
Defensive line: “Jake Wambaugh is outstanding at the end position on one side. On the other side, we have Jacob Virissimo, only a sophomore, and senior Weston Huff, who played both ways last year. We also have Mario Fregoso, another up-and-comer, who did not play last year. Our defensive line is anchored by an All-League kid Steven Arreola, who is big, strong, and we’re expecting big things from him. We have a young guy, Pedro Da Silva coming off JV and some other young guys we are developing, including Cameron Chesnut and Dan O’Beirne, a guy who has really impressed us, and was moved up to varsity during the first week of camp.”
“We have an outstanding kicker, Miguel Alcantar, who has a very strong leg and can also punt as well and we’re looking to him to carry the kicking load. Tristan Bier is an outstanding long-snapper and holding will be the versatile Branden Martin with back-up from Zach Eischen.”
• Hastings’ overall record as head coach at Point Loma High over 14 seasons is 101 wins, 64 losses with 2 ties.
• The Pointers will see their first opponent contact in the Aug. 24 annual controlled scrimmage. This year, the Pointers return to Cathedral High where two other teams will allow each team to test itself against three different offenses and defenses. Junior varsity action begins at
4 p.m., with varsities taking the field at
6 p.m. Cathedral High is located at
5555 Del Mar Heights Rd.
• Hastings on the new field’s effect: “It’s very exciting to have our new field. Seeing it just gets your adrenaline going and I think that once we get out there we will have the same goal of protecting the home field, something we take a lot of pride in. Our goal is never to lose any games, but especially at home. It will be fun for this group to look back and say, ‘We were that first team to play on the new field.’ I can’t wait to get out there.”
2012 SEASON SCHEDULE
• Sept. 1 vs. Mar Vista (home) 3 p.m.
• Sept. 7 vs. Olympian (away) 7 p.m.
• Sept. 14 vs. Lincoln (away) 6:30 p.m.
• Sept. 21 vs. Morse (home) 3 p.m.
• Sept. 28 vs. Scripps Ranch (home)3 p.m.
• Oct. 5 vs. Kearny* (home) 3 p.m.
• Oct. 12 vs. La Jolla* (Homecoming)6:30 p.m.
• Oct. 19 vs. Crawford (away) 3 p.m.
• Oct. 26 vs. Mission Bay* (away)3 p.m.
• Nov. 2 vs. Madison* (away) 6:30 p.m.
* Denotes Western League play