East County Sports

Thin squad could lead to great turnaround for Braves

NOTE: This is the sixth of a 13-part series that will take a look at each football team that East County Sports.com covers.  Each day, we will look at a different school, leading up to the final preview which will be published on the day that most of the teams in East County have their scrimmage leading into the 2015 season.  This edition we look at how the El Cajon Valley Braves look to build a winning team after a few down years.

By Chris Davis
© East County Sports.com
EL CAJON (8-14-15) — When last we heard about the El Cajon Valley Braves, they were coming off a loss to Bishop’s in the Division IV quarterfinals.  Since then, the Braves have hired a new coach from Mount Miguel and have lost several key players from the 2014 season.

In February, PARRIS PISIONA was brought over from Spring Valley.  In the six months that coach Pisiona has been on campus, he has started to turn the mentality of the program in a positive direction.

Roster breakdown:
Quarterbacks: TYSON SMITH will be the signal caller for the Braves this season.  The 6-2 junior will look to begin the Pisiona Era in a positive way.  He will be backed up by any number of possible players.

“Tyson is in the Seth Collins mold.  Big, tall, athletic kid,” the first year head coach said.

Running backs:  It is going to be tough to replace MATTHEW SHEARIN who ran for over 1,500 yards last year.  NATHAN McCULLOUGH will be the primary running back for the Braves.  Also going to be helping in the backfield will be TYLER PANNEL along with some freshmen.

“Nathan is along the Tony Dozier makeup.  Tony was a phenomenal athlete,” Coach Pisiona noted.

Wide Receivers: The deepest part of the Braves roster.  ALEX DELGADILLO, CHARLES SMITH (see video above) and LUIS PEREZ will be the primary targets for Smith.

“Athletic, hardworking, the ability to play football,” Coach Pisiona described his wide outs.

Offensive line/Tight ends: RONNE READUS will come over from the Valley League winning basketball team to be the tight end.  As with any new coaching staff, there is a new blocking scheme and terminology being used.  Coach Pisiona reports “probably a little behind the curve, but a good group with decent size for Division IV.”

Defensive line: Did someone say Ironman football?  The offensive line will be pulling double duty and playing defense as well.  “We only have 32 players on the roster, of which 20 have played football before,” Pisiona admitted.

Linebackers: Most of the running backs will double as linebackers.  “One spot that we were close to getting,” Pisiona disclosed.  Another issue that is a distraction for the Braves is that many students need to help with the family by working jobs.

Defensive backs:  As with everything else on the defensive side of the ball, it will be the wide receivers.  As was mentioned above, that is the one area that is the deepest in both numbers and experience on the roster.

“We have our three most seasoned players at the wide receiver/defensive backs positions,” Pisiona stated.

Schedule:
Gone are the games that frankly, El Cajon Valley had no way of winning.  Those games are Ramona (55-13 last year) and Christian (70-7 in 2014).  In their spots come Kearny and Coronado.

The season begins with a road trip to Montgomery in Southern San Diego on September 4th.  Last year, Montgomery suffered through a 3-7 record in the Metro-Pacific League.  A week later, University City will travel to El Cajon.  The Division IV runners-up will come to El Cajon looking to make it two in a row over the Braves.  The next week sees El Cajon Valley travel to Kearny to take on the Komets.  Kearny faced both Santana and Monte Vista last year and lost both contests.  The month of September will finish up at home against San Diego Southwest.  This will be the first of four at home for the Braves.

October opens against 2014 playoff member Orange Glen.  The Patriots went 6-5, but 0-4 in the Valley League.  The second week of the month, and the sixth week of the season, will see Grossmont Valley League action getting underway with a contest against West Hills.  The home stand concludes with Monte Vista on the 16th.  That will also be the earliest Senior Night in all of the East County.  A game at Santana will be on the docket on the 23rd.  Halloween Eve will mark the resumption of the “Battle of Madison Ave.”

The regular season will close out with a game on the peninsula against Coronado.

It has been 10 years since the Braves had a winning season, they actually went to the Division II championship game against Oceanside.  It will probably take a couple of seasons before El Cajon Valley will be back in the running for a championship, but Coach Pisiona has started the journey.

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