East County Sports

Wolf Pack is back to challenge Valley

West Hills senior quarterback JORDIN YOUNG / photo by Ramon Scott

2018 EAST COUNTY PREP FOOTBALL PREVIEW

WEST HILLS WOLF PACK

 

EastCountySports.com staff report

 

SANTEE – Things are changing – once again – for the West Hills varsity football program.

The Wolf Pack is back in the Grossmont Valley League after a two-year stint in the higher-echelon Hills League.

CASEY ASH

The step down is meant as no disrespect. It’s just the way the Grossmont Conference maintains a competitive balance in the odd-team circuit. It seems the Wolf Pack has bounced back-and-forth between the two leagues since the inception of the format.

What it does mean is that West Hills is immediately cast as a league championship contender against preseason favorite Monte Vista. The teams will meet in Spring Valley on the final night of the season.

The Wolf Pack program won a Grossmont Valley League championship as recently as 2014.

Eight starters return in 2018 fueled by veteran dual-threat quarterback JORDIN YOUNG.

“I was kind of disappointed when I heard we were switching leagues,” Young said. “I wanted to play those (Hills League) teams. But this is a new opportunity, as well.”

The 5-foot-11, 176-pound senior produced over 1,400 yards of total offense and accounted for 17 touchdowns (12 passing) last season for a Wolf Pack team that finished 6-5 overall and 2-3 in the GHL.

“Jordin is probably our most dynamic playmaker,” West Hills head coach CASEY ASH said. “In that league, he will probably be one of the top offensive players in for sure.

“We haven’t had a returning starter in this triple option yet, so we’re excited about that.”

Young has already proven himself as capable, but likely will have an opportunity to shine under Ash this season.

“Coach is such a student of the game,” said the quarterback. “He will break down film from two seasons ago just to make sure he has an exact idea of what to expect or whatever formation defenses are scheming. It’s great to learn under that type leadership.”

NATHAN JONES

Despite some key losses to graduation, West Hills is experienced at key positions, including Young’s center, 6-foot-1, 270-pound senior NATHAN JONES, and his fullback, 5-foot-10, 180-pound junior JAKE MAHEU.

“I think the move is good for our team,” said Maheu of the switch. “I think we’re going to be able to do something big this year.

Young lost his main targets from last year but sees rapid improvement from his new receiving corps, including senior end HUNTER GAUTHIER, who scored touchdowns on his only two receptions of 2017.

“Whenever you’ve got guys who step up and meet or exceed expectations, at the end of the season you think, ‘that guy really came through,’ and that will happen again this year with some of these guys,” Ash said.

Joining Jones on the offensive line are two-way linemen ALEX LEGGATE and GIANNI GRIMM.

Other two-way senior standouts include DYLAN SMITH, SAUL SANCHEZ, and JACK BROWNING, who also is ready to handle the kicking chores.

Ash will call upon on former JV coach QUENTIN LONDON, a first-team all-East County defensive back in 2004 with the Wolf Pack, to make the calls on the defensive side this season.

West Hills senior GIANNI GRIMM

Up front, it’s hard to miss the Pack’s big new nose guard HARRISON PATTENGILL, a 6-foot-2, 300-pounder, while STEVEN CRISTINI steps up his role the Pack defensive backfield after an impressive passing league season.

“I think we have more athletes and speed than last season but we lack a little bit of the size we had last year,” said Maheu, who heads the linebacking unit.

The Wolf Pack also finds itself in a new division in the section, as well, where they will compete this season in Division 3, along with East County clubs El Capitan, Christian and the Monarchs, who were the section champs in D4 last year.

West Hills opens with recent sectional rival Southwest (El Centro) on the road, then face Valhalla on the road in week two. The home opener in week three is against regional foe Sante Fe, from the Southern Section.

“With our schedule, we’ve got some room to have some success,” Ash said. “We would like to be in the Hills League, but we’ve got to earn that. We will try to get back up there as quickly as possible and this season’s results will play a big role in that.

“But for now, we expect to compete for a championship.”

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