Return of Matadors bad news for old Valley rivals
- Updated: August 23, 2016
2016 EAST COUNTY PREP FOOTBALL – PREVIEW
MOUNT MIGUEL MATADORS
By Ramon Scott
SPRING VALLEY – Teams in the Grossmont Valley League have to be wary of the Mount Miguel Matadors return to the circuit in 2016.
After all, the Matadors were four-time consecutive undefeated champs of the re-branded Grossmont Conference league from 2010-13 before being shipped to the tougher Hills League for the last two campaigns, where they have run into hard times with a 1-9 overall record.
Coach SHAUN MCDADE has seen both ends of the spectrum, having guided Mount Miguel to the most recent pair of those titles. And while the league battles took their toll on the Matadors’ over the last two season, they still managed a 6-5 non-league record.
The change of league scenery, the Matadors’ historical success in the Hills, along with the return of nine starters, make Mount Miguel an immediate contender for the league title.
Just a couple of slips along with way, however, and the Matadors could end up on the CIF playoff bubble, as they compete up in Division 2.
Senior MLB/RB CAMERON HANSON (6-0, 215) was an all-Grossmont Hills League selection last season, recording 77 tackles for the Matadors, including six for loss.
“He’s as legitimate of a college prospect as we’ve had and the unquestioned leader of our defense,” McDade said.
Hanson is getting heavy recruiting attention, according to McDade, including from San Diego State, San Jose State, Nevada, Dixie State and Northern Arizona.
“I’m looking forward to show the county what we have in store,” Hanson said. “Everybody is sleeping on us. We have a lot of guys that are disciplined in what we want to do and what we want to create here.”
Joining him on the staunch defensive unit is senior two-way lineman ANTHONY YARBROUGH (6-4, 215), who had 35 tackles and a fumble recovery for a touchdown last season.
Senior MARIO COKER, a three-year starter at safety who doubles at slot receiver, and DOMARIUS HAYDEN should hold down the fort in the defensive backfield.
Coker, who hauled in 17 passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns on offense, had 23 tackles a year ago, while Hayden had 11 tackles in five games.
Junior SANTINO PACHECO is a standout addition from last year’s JV squad. He had an awesome season on defense, especially as a run-stopping and blitzing defensive back, and is also a dangerous kick returner.
Returning two-way lineman JASON HERNANDEZ (5-10, 245), a senior, and ALEX LEMON (6-4, 220), a junior, help provide protection for senior quarterback BENNY VALADEZ.
Valadez was fourth last season among regular conference starters, completing 59 percent of his passes, good for 1,613 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also scrambled for 104 yards.
Senior WR/DB RICHARD MOORE (5-10, 160) is a big-play receiver ready for his turn in the spotlight, after catching just four passes in three early-season appearances, but for 123 yards and two touchdowns.
“Richard Moore may be the surprise of the whole county at wide receiver,” McDade said.
Junior running back SHEMAR GREENE (5-10, 185) is ready to assume the primary ball carrier role, with speed to the outside, as well as, power up the middle, according to McDade.
“(Green) has the potential to be very special,” McDade said.
“We’re not afraid to run the ball,” Hanson said. “We’re going to run the ball hard this year. We’re going to open up our passing game as well to compete in the playoffs and head for a CIF (berth).”
“We should have a balanced attack on offense, but the speed on defense is what will really propel this team,” McDade said.
Senior kicker JOEL BEAS in in his third season after going 31-for-40 on PATs and 4-for-8 on field goals over the last two years.
Other returnees include senior two-way WR/DBs JAYQUAIN CORBETT, CAESAR SIGALA and CRISANTO GAMEZ, senior defensive end HECTOR ALEMAN, senior LB ROY CORLEY and two-way senior lineman SHERD EMIN.
Other top incoming players include two-way linemen JULIO COLON (6-0, 230), a senior, and ENRIQUE BAUTISTA (6-1, 260), a junior.
Juniors MUGABEE MILLER (DB/RB), JARVIS HEARD (DB/RB) and TYLER WILLIAMS (DL/FB) also should see significant roles, according to McDade.
The Matadors’ non-league schedule is tough with West Hills, Valhalla, Poway, Madison, Chula Vista before opening the league season Oct. 7 at home against Monte Vista.