For the first time in the 11-year history of Granite Hills High School, the Cougars had a winning record. Granite Hills’ 6-4 record bested the school’s previous high-water mark by two games, seemingly leaving a building block for the future. But the Cougars lost up-and-coming coach Justin Price to Yucaipa, leaving the job open in June for Joel Hurtt to accept.
“It’s a bit of a bittersweet thing because Justin was a really good coach and really had the kids believing,” Hurtt said. “It’s a tough thing to lose a coach as late as we did and have to get refocused in the middle. Getting a new coach in June is a tough thing. The kids were a little in the dark at first but seem to have bought in.”
Hurtt’s familiarity with the program will help, as he was the Cougars’ head coach in 2006 and 2007 and stayed around the program in Price’s two seasons, coaching the freshman team to an 8-2 record in 2008. He certainly knows enough about what’s going on to know that senior running back Antawaun Jones is a guy he can depend on.
The 6-foot, 210-pound Jones was a force for the Cougars last year, rushing for 914 yards and eight touchdowns on 115 carries. His blend of size and power has gotten the attention of Division I schools, who came out to Granite Hills in the spring to watch Jones.
“He’s a big physical kid that is very tough to bring down when he gets his motor going,” Hurtt said. “He’s very hard to take one on one and he certainly is good enough to play at the next level. We are going to get a highlight package out there on him and send it around, get his name out there, because we think he’s that good.”
Jones will have some blockers returning to help him out, as seniors Omar Ross (5-10, 255) and Jeff Elkins (5-10, 215) will help pave the way, as will junior fullback Victor Iosefa (5-10, 205). Junior Elijah Henderson (6-4, 180) will give the new quarterback – who will either be junior Colin Willis (6-1, 170) or junior Andrew Nunez (6-0, 180) – a dynamic target to throw to.
Defensively, the Cougars will get contributions from a lot of the players mentioned on offense, with Iosefa playing middle linebacker, Ross and Elkins playing on the defensive line and Henderson getting time in the secondary. Senior defensive end Jay Fisher-James (6-3, 240) will also be a key component.
Granite Hills 2010 schedule (Home games in CAPS, * indicates league game)
Sept. 3 – LANCASTER EASTSIDE
Sept. 10 – at Hesperia
Sept. 17 – at Apple Valley
Sept. 24 – at Rialto
Oct. 1 – ALTA LOMA
Oct. 15 – at Barstow*
Oct. 22 – SILVERADO*
Oct. 29 – at Ridgecrest Burroughs*
Nov. 5 – VICTOR VALLEY*
Nov. 12 – at Sultana
Home games to be played at Apple Valley High School