Those were the days: Muir had crazy depth last year, and with 24 players graduating the question is: Who will fill those shoes left by Josh Jones (No. 24), Myles Campbell (No. 3), Mitchell Garner (No. 7), Reuben “Bingo” Thomas (No. 23, AKA Mr. Everything) and Fernando Aguilar (No. 55)?
Well well well.
Just when I thought Muir would somewhat be in trouble this season I make a complete 180 assessment after attending Thursday’s practice. The creepy part isn’t that !stang! easily spotted yours truly at practice but that the ‘Stangs, despite low numbers, have loads of talent.
In fact, Muir just may be the top team when the preseason top 10 poll is published next week, though what does that now say about The Stang Fan’s ability to asses your favorite reporter’s ability to asses your favorite team?
I digress … When Muir graduated 24 players last year (Ouch!) there was no telling where the Mustangs would rate this season. We knew Jarron Williams, nursing back spams Thursday, was returning at quarterback and three linemen (Danny Huerta, Chris Blas, Cameron Palmer) also were returning.
Aside from that, everyone’s guess was as good as mine. The skill positions and the secondary took a big hit, no doubt. Who fills the void is a challenge Mustangs coach Ken Howard is looking forward to overcoming. Gone are the days when Muir suited 40-60 guys.
“It’s intimidating when you look at the other sideline and see a bunch of guys suited up,” Howard said. “But I would much rather work with a small group, honestly. It’s easier to have a solid group of 25 instead of 100 players and having to figure out who is going to play on any given down.”
Be careful what you wish for, Kenny.
Nevertheless, it’s the situation Howard now finds himself in. Muir’s success is heavily dependent on how well the line executes. The “Trench Mob,” as they’re known by the rest of the team and coaches, can’t succumb to the pressure Howard has laid on them.
“Those are my MVP’s,” Howard said. “I preach it to them every day. They need to play well and hold their own in order for us to do what we want to do.”
Exactly what Muir’s offense will consist of is still unclear. Howard said fans can still expect a spread formation, though a balanced attack is still in order.
Senior Eddie Tripp will carry the ball but expect sophomore Kevon Seymore to see time there as well.
Seymore’s only a sophomore but already he’s proved he can hang with the big boys, at least in my eyes.
He took a lights-out hit from Howard Vaughn at practice. Seymore made a cut up the middle and went head-to-head with Vaughn charging. They collided, helmets smacked and down went Seymore. He lay on the ground for a good three seconds, Vaughn looking down on him before Seymore popped up and was ready for redemption.
It’s that kind of determination that has Howard excited for the upcoming season. Muir’s lineup will include a few transfers. Vaughn transferred from Marshall and Jeffrey Lett, a junior competing at quarterback who could see time at receiver, too, from PHS.
Leadership is something I feel the Mustangs lacked a bit last season. I covered my fair share of Muir games, and honestly never did see someone take firm direction of the team. Williams has that quality in him that not only makes him likable but also someone who has the respect of his teammates; they will follow him by example. Williams was overshadowed by the likes of Thomas and Campbell. But not this season.
“This is his team,” Howard said. “He likes to have that kind of pressure on him.”
Howard and I talked more about the Pacific League and the recent hires. On PHS hiring Mike McFarland, Howard said: “He’s about the kids. He’s the best guy for the job in terms of turning that program around.”
Regardless of what anyone says, there may be more parity this season in the Pacific League.
Still — as I quickly learned — never discount the power of the ‘Stangs.