Both of these teams have plenty to prove, but that is hardly the most interesting dynamic of a season opener that pits new Colony head coach Matt Bechtel, the Los Osos offensive coordinator for seven years, against his former team and coaching staff.
It’s not practice anymore: Matt Bechtel and Kevin Price have done battle on the Los Osos practice field “probably a million times in seven years,” but tonight the chess match has a much different feel. Los Osos is coming off the school’s first appearance in a CIF championship game — the Grizzlies lost 19-7 to Upland on Dec. 11 — but returns just seven starters. Colony, which retained only two starters from last season, is eager to kick off the Bechtel era and prove there won’t be a drop-off from the successful teams in Colony’s recent history.
“Los Osos has never lost an opener,” Bechtel said. “Colony has never beaten Los Osos. I’m big into history and I know the history of this matchup.”
Familiar much?: Los Osos is still running the same spread offense installed by Bechtel upon the football program’s inception. Colony will run a similar no-huddle spread to the one Bechtel ran at Los Osos.
Both Price and Bechtel know the language, signals and intricacies of what each other run. Both head coaches used the word mirror several times.
“We won’t signal in many of our plays,” Los Osos head coach Tom Martinez said. “But (Price) knows their stuff. We’ve seen it in practice and now we’re going to see it in a game.”
In accordance with the high level of familiarity, to put it lightly, Bechtel expects a stalemate early in the game.
“It’s like a prize fight when neither fighter is doing much in the beginning because they’re feeling each other out,” Bechtel said. “But it’s not going to be about what I know or what they know, it’s going to come down to my kids executing against their kids.”
First in line: Each of these teams is breaking in five new starting offensive linemen, providing an obvious deciding factor in the game. Both have better than average size across the front, but it remains to be seen how they’ll protect their first-year starting quarterbacks and generate holes for the running game.
Los Osos returns running back Cody Rogina, who rushed for 943 yards and 11 touchdowns last season but senior Kori Grant, who has his own ties to Colony, will be the starting quarterback. The 5-foot-8 dual threat was Colony’s starting quarterback for a stint during his sophomore season before Grant transferred to Los Osos prior to last school year.
Mobile senior Dominick Barnett will take over as Colony’s starting QB and Rico West will be his running back.
“The battle up front will decide this game, no doubt about it,” Bechtel said. “They have five new offensive lineman and so do we. It’s going to come down to which defensive line handles the other’s offensive line the best.”