A new era is dawning at Orange Glen.
The times they are a changin’! An important and seemingly far-reaching move has been made. Not only does this involve the OG football program but it will reverberate throughout the entire athletic program as well.
In a nutshell, the Patriots have left the North County Conference and the Valley League in exchange for a presence in the Coastal Conference and League. This change of neighborhoods was motivated by the desire to see the Pats competing against teams with comparable athletic numbers.
In other words, the Pats will now be vying in an environment where the playing field will be more equitable. This course of action will not only give the football team some welcomed flexibility but it should also heighten its level of competitiveness.
And yet, make no mistake, the Coastal League is a challenging and testing one that includes the likes of accomplished schools like Santa Fe Christian, Bishop’s, La Jolla Country Day, Horizon and Parker. It’s just that from an overall standpoint, this new arrangement amounts to a better fit and a more conducive place from which the Pats can operate.
Jason Patterson is set to begin his third season as the Patriot head football coach. It was Patterson, who in 2014, led OG to its first winning season (6-5) in some 17 years. That was a worthy accomplishment not to be minimized. Though the Pats fell off somewhat last year (4-7), that doesn’t alter the fact that Patterson seems the man capable of creating a positive mindset and establishing a foundation where consistent performance could be realized.
Moreover, Patterson isn’t someone who believes in limits. He’s not afraid to dream big. “I expect our players to play to the best of their abilities,” Patterson explains. “I want us giving great effort on every single play of the game.” The coach then momentarily pauses before continuing on with his vision. “And our goal should always be to win league and even more. We want to create a competitive environment whereby our players demonstrate great work ethic and learn how to persevere through adversity. We want to produce both good players but more importantly, even better young men.”
One thing seems for sure. Look for the Pats to be a feast for the eyes because they’ve scrapped their previous double wing formation in favor of a read-option spread attack. That means an up-tempo approach will be highlighted. “It should be fun to watch because we’re going to have many opportunities to make some big plays,” shares Patterson, an unmistakable gleam in his eye.
Much of the onus to make sure that the OG offense lives up to what Patterson envisions will fall on senior quarterback Blaine Bailey, but he appears to be more than equipped to meet that challenge. Smart and imbued with leadership skills, Bailey has experienced significant football growth from last year till now. A good ball handler, Blaine showcases a nice arm with more than enough zip. Moreover, he has a definite feel for how to manage a game. Bailey provides a solid base from which the offense can branch out.
The running contingent figures to be ignited by the 5-foot-8, fleet-footed senior Tyrone Hickson. Because his speed is such a dynamic weapon, Hickson could very well experience a breakout season. The only question surrounding this dangerous back is his durability. Last season, Hickson was undermined by injury. Others expected to make contributions while toting the rock are the swift Moray Steward and the hardworking Jacob Guzman.
On the outside, diminutive but exciting Malachi Russell should be Bailey’s prime pass catching target. A very talented athlete, Russell can fly and he possesses super glue hands. Brandon Montes is another wide-out who’s not huge in stature but can get the job done. Montes is a committed grinder who has notable hand-eye coordination. Another starter on the perimeter will be senior receiver Diego Ramos. And don’t be surprised if Billy Mercado gets in on this mix and provides an additional option.
Upfront, the offensive line that will pave the way and provide protection is one that is much esteemed. This is a unit that has spent considerable time together and its cohesion and chemistry is readily apparent. The two stalwarts of the line are expected to be senior left guard Brandon Velez and right tackle Richardo Garduno. Patterson is quick to praise the “O” line’s leadership, camaraderie and development.
Though the Patriots will use a 5-3 scheme as their base defense, look for them to incorporate other deployments and utilize plenty of variations.
The defensive line should be rock solid and dependable. Providing the anchor in the trenches will be nose guard Sebastian Ramirez. Though undersized at 5-7, Ramirez is a strong and passionate player who can clog things up. The end positions are manned by a pair of physical and active performers. Edgar Aceves can inspire others with his play and he carries with him very high expectations. Meanwhile, senior Nikola Kresovich is known for his strength and ability to make his presence felt..
Though the line-backing corps isn’t all that big, it compensates for its lack of size with lots of quickness. The Pats are particularly sound at the middle linebacker spot where junior Luis Mateo can be found. A leader by example and someone counted upon to bring maximum effort, Mateo should be a force.
And last, but certainly not least, the secondary is a talented group that is more than capable of holding up its end. Gifted safety Bryan Ponce is considered the brains of the outfit and has a great feel for the game. Plus, this senior provides much needed stability and consistent play from the backend. Meanwhile, the cornerback spots will be occupied by the aforementioned Russell and Mercado. The junior Russell can cover both foe and ground while Mercado is a smart DB who knows how to put his vast experience to use.
The all important kicking duties are expected to be a one-man operation in the personage of Fernando Lopez. Buoyed by a sturdy leg, Lopez is a steady field goal kicker from 25 yards on in. And his punting, which should average in the 35-yard range, could play a factor in helping to maintain critical field position.
How will all these elements come together once the season starts? It’s hard to say but Orange Glen appears to have both the talent and the coaching to potentially make its first year in the Coastal League one to remember. “I guarantee we’re going to play hard,” promises Patterson. “And we’re going to strive to have a definite focus, game in and game out.” If the Pats are able to meet those requirements, their prospects for success will be greatly enhanced.
Yes, for OG it’s a new day, a new direction and a new promise. By going Coastal, a defining sea change in the program’s future looms as a distinct possibility. Now on a different course, it looks like full speed ahead for the Patriots.