East County Sports

El Capitan may soon be Wick’s house

El Capitan QB Wick Hauser




By Ramon Scott



LAKESIDE – The back of the El Capitan Vaqueros’ preseason camp t-shirt reads “Live The Impossible.”

But while the El Cap coaching staff may be trying to sell its players on a “sky is the limit” philosophy this season, coach RON BURNER (13th year, 80-60-2) and his staff, including defensive coordinator ANTWAN APPLEWHITE, may be quietly engineering a return to the heights of the program’s success of just a few years ago.

But don’t expect overnight success with the Vaqueros still trudging in the tough Grossmont Hills League combined with a traditionally challenging non-league slate.

Still, El Capitan possesses enough talent and organization to keep games in the balance nearly throughout.

“Our strengths are typical El Cap strengths,” Burner said. “We’re going to be really good defensively, that’s where most of our seniors are.

“We want to try and run the ball more and stay with clock management, which is not normal for me, but we’re going to try it. We want to be able to stay in ball games.”

That’s where sophomore quarterback WICK HAUSER steps in.

Hauser is a 6-foot, 175-pounder with a laser for an arm, but a rapidly-improving deft touch in the red zone.

Keeping games within striking distance immediately gives the Vaqueros a chance with this rising star behind center.

Hauser was 64-for-123 last season for 918 yards after taking over the starting job midseason as a freshman. He has looked very good and more polished in preseason practice and was sharp early in a playoff loss at home last Nov. to Bonita Vista before the Barons overwhelmed the underdog hosts.

Senior CONNOR ROOSA, a three-year starter, is a work-horse running back.

A 2016 Second Team All-Grossmont Hills selection, Roosa rushed for 632 yards and five TDs last season.

Roosa is a hard-nosed rusher but with a quick burst off the edge of the line and has a nose for the goal line, as well. He had 11 receptions for 84 yards and a score last season while making 43 tackles on defense, including two sacks, from his linebacker spot.

A top target for Hauser is sure to be senior tight end ANTONIO OLIVIERI, one of the top two-way players in the county, who is developing into a college prospect at the emerging position.

A 2016 All-Grossmont Hills League honorable mention performer, Olivieri had 9 catches last season for 135 yards. Also a backup QB candidate, he had 34 tackles on defense, including four for loss, and two sacks from his defensive end spot.

“I think our defense will be a strong point for us this season,” Olivieri said. “I feel like we’ve been working hard and that we’ll have good results. We’re just trying to be one together.”

El Capitan senior CHRIS MCDONOUGH

The leader of the Vaqueros is senior CHRIS MCDONOUGH – a 2016 Second Team All-Grossmont Hills pick.With 103 tackles last season (32 solo), including seven for loss., McDonough also had one interception to become one of the conference’s fastest-rising stars on defense.

With 103 tackles last season (32 solo), including seven for loss., McDonough also had one interception to become one of the conference’s fastest-rising stars on defense.

“Most of us have been playing together for a long time,” McDonough said. “We came through the system and played on varsity at a young age.”

Even though the Vaqueros lost two key all-league linebackers to graduation, many of the members of the team have come through the ranks of Lakeside football together so there is familiarity in the ranks.

“Linebacker is probably our strength, it is going to be fun to watch our defense,” Burner said. “We’ll be young on offense, but we’ll be competitive and just want a chance to win every game we play.”

Senior STAR IULI was a 2016 All-League honorable mention performer with 14 receptions for 102 yards last season at wide receiver. He also rushed for 115 yards last year and had two interceptions on defense at safety, but may see more time at corner. He averaged nearly 30 yards on 12 kick returns, as well.

El Capitan senior STAR IULI.

Junior YAPHET YOKLEY has 12 catches for 244 yards and a score last season as a big-play threat and is positioned for a break-out season. Had one interception on defense and averaged nearly 30 yards on 11 kick returns.

Senior CHANCE LOVATO had three interceptions and 50 tackles last season and should also see time in the offensive backfield this year. Twin brother, CHASE LOVATO, is also on defense as a cornerback.

Senior CAMERON PHILLIPS is a defensive tackle who had 38 tackles last season.

Senior COLE ROELOFSZ, a senior who had 44 tackles last season, is currently injured but expected to return.

DONNY GREEN is a sophomore transfer that fits into the Vaqueros’ backfield plans.

Sophomore offensive lineman CARSON FEIL is currently in El Cap’s short and long-term plans up front.

“We have a young line, but they are big and aggressive,” Burner said. “They are going to get tested. We don’t have any gimme games ever.”

Junior linebacker RUDY MEDINA is a likely contributor defensively.

“When you stay in the game and try to keep it as close as you can,” Burner said. “Keep them fresh and keep them off the field, then take care of the football and anything can happen.”

El Capitan was 1-4 in rugged Hills league last season and 4-7 overall (improved from 2-9 in 2015, lost divisional state title game in 2014).

The Vaqueros played several close games, as among the highlights were a win at West Hills and a home win in a thriller over Granite Hills on blocked PAT.

El Capitan’s non-conference schedule has likely Open Division contender and defending state division champ Madison at home to start the season, then at Mater Dei before home games against Valley Center (a rematch from an OT road loss last year) and Patrick Henry.

The Vaqueros also have a non-league game at Granite Hills.

El Capitan will compete for a spot in the Division 2 postseason picture, along with other East County foes Steele Canyon, West Hills, Granite Hills and Christian.

The Vaqueros will participate in the SDFNL Classic on Saturday, Aug. 19 when they will scrimmage against Eastlake at La Jolla Country Day from 7 to 9 p.m.

Admission to the SDFNL Classic is one canned good.

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