And while coaches at many schools don’t look beyond the physical skills of their players, Hastings continually fine-tunes an overall approach that he believes builds the whole person. His players are expected to be good students and role models on campus and helping members in their homes. Hastings often shares the successes, community contributions and leadership roles of former players.
A look at the 2013 Pointer schedule confirms that Hastings wants his team to prepare against the best opponents before Western League games begin in October.
First up, in the home opener, is South Bay’s surprising Olympian, which administered a 38-10 whipping of the Pointers in Week 2 last season. The Eagles went on to an undefeated season before losing to Lincoln 20-7 in the CIF Div. III semifinals.
Lincoln and Point Loma also had two memorable battles last season, with the Hornets defeating the Dogs 19-14 in Week 3 before eliminating them from CIF playoffs by a 21-17 margin in a second-round match Nov. 16. Both games were played at Lincoln, which later won the CIF championship.
Returning Pointer players have undoubtedly had these two games circled on the schedule for months along with a regular season final Homecoming game against Western League, CIF Div. IV and state champion Madison.
The three foes accounted for all four Pointer losses in 2012.
New to the schedule this season is a trip to Ramona on Sept. 6. The Bulldogs are coming off an 8-5 season that ended with a loss to Lincoln in the CIF finals.
Another newcomer, Santana, visits the Pointers Sept. 28 for a 1 p.m. kickoff.
As the season opener approaches, Hastings takes a look at his 2013 team.
“This group has bought in (to our program) and they’ve come together,” said Hastings. “If they stay healthy and improve each and every day, each and every week, by the time we get into our league schedule we’d like everything clicking on all cylinders. Staying healthy is key, but with kids growing and learning every day, which they will, I’m looking forward to this being a very good team.”
The Pointers put up 28 points a game last season in going 8-4, with a second-place finish to Madison in the Western League. Last year’s 9-0 junior varsity and 8-1 freshman teams, both league champions, should provide players who know how to win. Last year’s varsity was undefeated (5-0) on its new turf field but were 2-4 away from Pete Ross Stadium against three top-tier teams (Olympian, Lincoln and Madison). The Pointers play all three at home this season.
Quarterback: “At the quarterback spot, we have junior Gavin Grady and senior Quinn Bohannon,” said Hastings. “They’ve both worked really hard this off-season getting ready. It’s been a battle, and since neither played varsity quarterback last year they’re going to be tested early and the one who does best will win the job.”
Halfbacks: “We’ve got some good running backs when you consider a returning kid like D.J. Lacy (735 yards, 6.8-yard average) who is an exceptional player. As a senior, we’re expecting great things from him. A.J. Smith is also a very versatile athlete who plays our sweeper position but can also play running back and a ‘wild dog’-type of quarterback to give us more versatility and a different look. Malik Riddle and Drake Gill give us depth.”
Fullbacks: “A couple of kids who helped our junior varsity go 10-0 last year are coming up,” said Hastings. “Romeo Epperley and Jacob Ehm are both doing very well in camp and will be competing for playing time along with Alex Dillman and Julius Agho.”
Wide receivers: “One of our most consistent players is senior Drew Rutledge, a kid who has worked extremely hard all four years he’s been here. Now it’s his year to shine and move forward. He’s being pushed by another senior, Miles McGinley, who took last year off due to injury. Along with Alejandro Grande, Dijion Salgado and Jalen Griffin, there should be a very good rotation.”
Tight end: “We have a really good kid in Jake Wambaugh, who plays both ways, and Austin Wilson, coming up from junior varsity, is making good strides. Also, Cole Kidd is learning the position along with defensive end Jake Virissimo, so we have quite a group that can play the position and all of them have decent hands as well.”
Offensive line: “The guys that make this a team strength are juniors Seth Irby at center and Tim O’Brien, along with seniors Mike Serrano, Jared Polonitza, Zack Zugovitz and Sean Gardocki,” said Hastings. “Andrew Caparell, Quin Gaughan, Devon Knox, Ty Gutierrez and Nick Solia give us great depth here.”
The traditionally strong Pointer defense yielded an average of 15 points per game last year. It produced several all-league players, including defensive player-of-the year Jamal Agnew. Three of the Pointer losses were by a total of
23 points against two CIF champions. The 2013 group will be focused on stopping their opponents and returning possession to their offensive teammates.
Defensive line: “This group has some kids that played last year in the secondary or backup roles who now move forward,” said Hastings. “A returning starter who had a very good year is Pedro DaSilva. Then there’s a big kid, Jared Polonitza, who plays on the offense but is a very good defensive lineman. Also in that mix is Pedro Durant, a kid who played when he was younger and has come back. We also have other kids on offense like Serrano and Irby who can rotate in if called upon.”
Defensive ends: “I think we’re pretty strong up front on defense. We lost some key pieces there but our very effective defensive ends Wambaugh and Virissimo come back.”
Linebackers: “Our linebacking corps is really headed by third-year varsity player Tanner Manion. Dan O’Beirne, a very good one, moves here after playing there as a freshman. And there are some others we can rotate in at that spot.”
Defensive backs: “This will be a real challenge, but coach Joe Radovich is doing a good job working hard with the new kids and the ones who were second string last year. We have some good athletes who will play a bigger role on defense, kids like Smith and Lacy will be in the secondary, along with one of our seniors, Adrian Bueno, who should do some good things for us. Jonathan Cook, up from the junior varsity, has been impressive in practice. Frankie Lopez, returning to football, and a newcomer, basketball player DeAndre Benson, are there. And a couple juniors, Sergio Gallegos and Joel Bracamontes, will also be in the secondary. It’s a good group and they are making progress each day.”
Special teams: “We have a couple young kids moving up. Jason Shoemaker is a very good placekicker, and another one, a lineman with a good leg, is Luke Legerton. We’re expecting a good competition with those two and both can punt, but also in the mix is Jamie Medina. Lopez also has a very live leg as a punter.”
The 2013 roster includes four sophomores who earned roster spots: wide receiver/defensive back Griffin, kicker/punter Medina and a pair of fullback/linebackers Dillman and Agho.
The team’s seniors realize their prep careers end in just over three months. Each has dreams of winning a Western League banner and CIF championship for their school. Each week, they’ll battle as a team, fighting through fatigue and pain in an effort to realize that dream.
The quest begins Aug. 31 at 3 p.m.