Garrett Kohler of Los Osos makes a tackle on a Carter ball carrier in a non-league game last fall. He will be top returner for the Grizzlies.
The Los Osos football team made some modest improvement last year, going 4-6. That came after 2-8 showings the previous two years.
But this fall coach Kevin Price is hoping to have more to show for his team’s hard work over the past off-season. The Grizzlies haven’t had a winning season since 2009 when they were 10-3 under previous coach Tom Martinez, now the school’s athletic director.
Price has made some subtle changes he hopes will pay off. He has restructured practices, in hope of getting better quality practice time out of a squad that has seen a decline in numbers the past few years.
Mike Randall had been serving as offensive coordinator and coaching the offensive line, but Price has taken the position responsibility off Randall’s plate so he can focus on the play-calling.
“The last couple of years have been frustrating,” said Price, given the head coaching nod in 2012. “We have made some changes we think are going to help. The numbers are down but we have a lot of kids here that have worked hard and they’re all in. I’d rather have this group of kids that are all in then 20 more players who aren’t fully invested.”
Junior Brett Cabral, younger brother of former offensive lineman Cohl Cabral, will get the nod at quarterback. He got some experience last year, taking over the starting job late last season.
He’ll have a couple experienced lineman up front in junior tackle Brandon Trejo and senior guard-center Aaron Meraz, with junior Jacob Nielsen helping out at fullback and/or tight end.
It will be a running-back-by-committee with the Grizzlies having graduated their top player in running back Donovan Williams. Among those looking to factor in are junior Kyle Jorgenson, a linebacker last year, junior Marco Martinez, who is up from the junior varsity and senior Evan Marks.
Price is quite high on senior wide receiver Tyler Riley, who is a lanky 6-foot-5 and has good hands.
“I think we’re going to be strong up front on both sides of the ball,” Price said. “It really all starts there. If we have success there it makes it easier to do everything else.”
The top returning player on the team is senior defensive end Garrett Kohler.
Others top performers pitching in on that side of the ball include senior defensive end Daivan Allen, senior safeties Ryan Esparza and Jacob Ray, with Ray also getting some time at wide receiver.
The new season kicks off Aug. 26 with a home game against Carter, a team to whom Los Osos lost 30-3 a year ago, although Carter looks to be in rebuilding mode this season.
The Grizzlies will compete in Division 5 in the CIF’s new divisional alignment. Price thinks that was a fair place to put his school and hopes it means it can contend should it make the playoffs.
“I like it,” he said of the playoff system, which puts schools in different division based on results the past two years. “It gives us a chance to sort of get out from under. If we can make the playoffs we’re competing to teams similar to us.”