It only took one day of working in pads for Rim of the World coach Bob Gradillas to remember how nice it was to have a team full of seniors.
“We are so much farther ahead right now than we were at this point last year,” Gradillas said. “Everyone is on the same page and working well together and I think our experience from last year is a big reason for that. Even with the first practice the difference was startling.”
The Fighting Scots did lose some players from their 4-6 team of a year ago – a team that missed the playoffs for the first time since 2005 – namely running back Dillon Pretzinger, who ran for 1,267 yards and 18 touchdowns a year ago. But Pretzinger missed four games due to injury, something that was a bit of a theme for Rim a year ago.
“We got hit hard by injuries last year and for a while, it was hard for us to do much of anything,” Gradillas said. “We lost Dillon, we lost some offensive linemen and it was a struggle. But if anything, the experience those kids got will help us this year.”
Last year’s trial by fire has made veterans of the Fighting Scots, as they return four offensive linemen with starting experience in seniors Alex Kinnick (5-9, 179) and Eduardo Chavez along with juniors Zack Black (6-3, 212) and Daniel Janes (5-10, 242). The Scots also return two tight ends in seniors Lucas Ehe (6-0, 170) and Austin Gradillas (6-0, 170).
Pretzinger’s injuries also allowed the returning running backs to get quality time last year. Rim, which normally depends on one workhorse runner, will spread the ball around to juniors Dylan Bratton (5-5, 132) and Jacob Taylor (5-11, 165) along with senior Carlos Martinez (5-7, 188). Junior wide receiver Joe Marquez (5-9, 150) will lead the receiving corps.
Rim will have its players playing on both sides of the ball, with several of the above offensive players filling in key roles defensively. Janes, Black and sophomore Justin Hardin (5-9, 188) will see time on the d-line along with Ehe at defensive end. Martinez heads the linebackers while Taylor and Marquez will be the cornerback. Senior Brennan Weist (5-8, 170) returns at safety.
Rim of the World schedule (Home games in CAPS, * indicates league game)
Sept. 9: VICTOR VALLEY
Sept. 16: JURUPA VALLEY
Sept. 23: at Bishop
Oct. 1: vs. Big Bear (Big Bear MS)
Oct. 7: DESERT HOT SPRINGS
Oct. 14: at Jurupa Hills*
Oct. 21: CITRUS VALLEY*
Oct. 28: at Rubidoux*
Nov. 4: BANNING*
Nov. 11: vs. Riverside Notre Dame (Riverside CC)