East County Sports

Mountain Empire ready to compete in Manzanita

NOTE: This is addendum to the series that will take a look at each football team that EastCountySports.com covers.  In this edition we look at how the Mountain Empire Red Hawks will deal with a new coach and a different offensive scheme.

By Chris Davis
© East County Sports.com
PINE VALLEY (8-23-15) — When coach BERNARD VANN took over the Red Hawks in June, he brought a completely different attitude to the Pine Valley campus of Mountain Empire.  Out was the old philosophy and in with an attitude of wide open fun.

Roster breakdown:
Quarterbacks: VICTOR PARRA will be returning under center for the Red Hawks.  It won’t take long for Parra to pass last year’s starter WAYNE MEZA.  Meza only threw for 72 yards in 10 games.  That was due in large part not to his lack of arm strength, but to the offensive scheme that was 90 percent run.

“Victor is a really smart kid who is picking up the offense,” Coach Vann said.

Running backs: JAMES WILLS is looking to come in and take the Manzanita League by storm.  He is a transfer from the Central Coast city of Gilroy.  Also planning on getting some playing time will be sophomore ALLEN ROBINSON making his way up from JV.

Wide receivers: ALEX TORRES and BLAKE JARRELL will be the two main targets for Parra to get the deep balls.

“Torres has some really good hands and is a good route runner,” Vann commented.

Tight ends: JAMES BRASWELL and SAWYER ERNSBARGER will both be the tight ends for the Red, Black and White.

“Braswell is a big strong guy that should do well,” Vann added.

Offensive line: TYLER BATEMAN will be returning to the line and adding some veteran leadership to the offensive line.  DAVID LARSON will be holding down one tackle spot. Young DYLAN SHEA will be in the middle of the action on every play.  On the left side of the line there is a four player battle for only two spots.

“Our offensive line is probably the strength of our team,” Vann proclaimed.

Defensive line: Mountain Empire’s opponents will have to game plan against DANIEL BOLAN.  Then again, when you are 300 pounds as a junior, most teams will have a problem with his size. Larson will be playing both sides of the ball. Wills and Braswell will be coming in off the ends.

“Like the offensive side, our D-line is the strength of our defense,” Vann disclosed.

Linebackers: Jarrell and Robinson are solidly in the starting lineup, with a battle going on for the final linebacker.

Defensive backs: Torres, WYATT MANN and ZACK MAXIMO will hold the majority of the starting spots.

“Zack has been the most consistent player this summer,” Vann praised.

One thing is for sure, there will not be any short road trips for Mountain Empire this season.  In fact the shortest trip will be the final road trip that is only 70 miles from the Buckman Springs campus.

The season will begin with a sojourn to Flintridge Prep which is in La Canada.  For those not familiar, that is north of the Rose Bowl by about another 10 minutes.

September will open with a much shorter trip to the Army-Navy Academy in Carlsbad. The Warriors went 1-9 last year with a very heavy junior influence.  The Red Hawks will continue to be road warriors as they will conclude their season opening three game road trips when they travel to the California Military Institute in Perris, California. The Rough Riders went 2-8 last year and have a new coach this year, so it will be interesting to see what they have.  Coach Vann will experience the home field advantage for the first time when Tri-City Christian will make the lengthy trip to Pine Valley from Vista on the 18th. The home cooking will continue the next week when Lutheran from Chula Vista travels Eastward on Interstate 8.

October will open with the conclusion of the non-league schedule when Temecula Prep will travel south. Temecula Prep had so few players last year, that they only fielded a JV team.  Week seven will see the opening of Manzanita League action with a road contest against Holtville. Holtville has a reputation as being a small piece of Texas in the Imperial Valley.  The entire town closes down for the game, so Coach Vann and Mountain Empire will have their hands full.  Calipatria will come Westward on Interstate 8 for a game on the 16th.  Week nine will see the final road game in the regular season to Vincent Memorial in Calexico.  The regular season will wrap up on Halloween Eve when Crawford will travel eastward.

“I just got here in June, but one thing I can say is that we have gotten better everyday and we will compete,” Vann declared with conviction.

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