Mira Costa is coming off a 7-5 season overall, second in the Bay League with a 4-1 mark and a win over rival Redondo Union by a 21-0 score. They won a playoff game before getting knocked out by South Hills in the quarterfinals 34-16.
This year the team is without quarterback Nick Carpino and look to junior varsity starter from a year ago in Sam Whitney.
Don Morrow, who has been the head coach since 1993, began coaching in 1982 and looks to bring home a coveted Bay League title to Manhattan Beach.
It is a new season.
“We’re looking forward to it because we’re starting out the year and every year we’re always excited to play that first game,” Morrow said. “This is the first time we’ve played a 0-week game in a while so we felt a little bit more pressure to try to get ready fast and Paramount is a heck of a team. These guys have worked their tails off a lot since January and it’s time to go see what we can do.”
“I’m excited for this season, it’s going to be fun,” said Mira Costa senior guard Sam Michael.
Mira Costa lost its opener 48-21 at Paramount. They fell behind 20-0 after the first quarter, which put a lot of pressure on the offense.
This week they will look to get on the winning side as they travel to St. Francis in La Canada.
The offense under Whitney was able to produce some points against a very talented team on the road.
Last year Whitney got injured before halfway through the junior varsity season, but is back and now hoping to lead his team to some victories.
“He has had a beautiful summer and a beautiful spring,” Morrow said. “He is going to be awesome. He just needs to get some games under his belt, but his accuracy is off the charts, his knowledge is off the charts. We’re looking forward to him.”
“We’re working well (together),” Whitney said of his offense.
Diego Osterling-Tabatabaian is the starting center and will be snapping the ball to Whitney.
“I think he is great. I really trust him.”
“Big things from Sam this year,” said wide receiver Jackson Fischer. “He’s looking great preseason and I’m really excited to see what he can do this season.”
According to Morrow, Whitney is going to have plenty of help. They have two or three backs and eight different receivers to throw to.
Rashad Lawrence, senior, is one of the big lineman expected to protect Whitney.
“Offensive line is looking good every day and I think we’re ready for any competition,” Lawrence said.
“He’s a pocket passer,” said Michael of Whitney. “He’s really good.”
“We’re pretty fortunate,” said Morrow of his playmakers. “At skill, we’ve got three or four backs and as many as eight different receivers.”
“I have confidence in him to do the right thing,” said running back Bryce Carlisle of Whitney. He missed half the season due to transferring and looks to contribute from the start this year. “I get to start it out and help the team.”
Fischer is looking to make as big an impact on offense as he did on defense last year.
“We’ll see how it goes,” said the senior.
The head coach has been adding new wrinkles to the offense in recent years and says the team is ready to change different tempos for what is needed.
“We do a little bit of everything-pretty good mix,” said the coach.
Defensively they should be capable. Morrow ran the defense last year, but Ray Lee is back.
“He is a supreme coordinator,” Morrow said. “They will be much better organized than last year.”
The defense will be led by Fischer (All Bay League) at cornerback and Hank Dunlop (All Bay League) lineman and outside linebacker in Luke Weaver.
Special teams will be led by junior kicker-punter Thomas Southey, who is an all-around athlete and is also a receiver.
“It’s pretty good to have an athlete back there,” Morrow said.
Morrow and the players can now watch one of their own play on Sundays as former Mira Costa player Jahlani Tavai is set to start to play in his first NFL regular season game with the Detroit Lions. It is something they are not used to.
“It’s exciting to see him,” Morrow said. “We’ve haven’t had hardly anybody that has been able to do that and we’ve had some great, great players that have gone and tried.”
It has some of the players energized going into the season, to see one of their own be successful at the highest level.
“A lot of motivation,” Fischer said. “It’s a good person to look up to definitely, on the field, off the field, just a great person overall.”
The Mustangs open with three road games with the third game at Mayfair and finish with five home games in their final seven contests.
They also have road games at Palos Verdes and Leuzinger.
El Segundo is their first opponent at home on September 13 and they also host West Torrance, Peninsula, Compton Centennial and Redondo Union.
Also on the team are seniors Luke Personius, rb/cb; Kian Towfighi, wr/cb; Jack Donahue, wr/s; Allen Garcia, rb/lb; Wyatt Flake, wr/cb; David Bugdanowitz, rb/lb; John Darcy, wr/lb; Chase Harding, wr/lb; Luke Arruda, ol/dl; Henry Dunlap, g/dt; Vincent Real, wr/lb; Jacob Elson, ol/dl.
Juniors on the team include Ryan Moreno, rb/cb; Richard Kick, te/lb; Danny Millea, wr/lb; Jaden McDonald, wr/s; Thomas Bush, wr/cb; Zane Thormodsgaard, rb/s; Josh Beste, wr/cb; Charlie Kohler, wr/s; Hunter Jeppson, wr/cb; Jacob Less, rb/lb; Kage Geoghegan, rb/ng; Dylan Guerrero, ol/dl; Matt Riggle, ol/dl; Roman Garcia ol/dl; Brenton Gerhardt, wr/s.
Sophomores on the roster are Brett McCalla, wr/lb; Casey Pavlick, db/s; Kayle Marsh, rb; Dean Repetti, rb/lb; Wes Widmer, ol/dl.