The Jaguars are using their recent struggles as motivation with a veteran group of returning starters leading the way.
“That’s big motivation,” senior Roger McMillan said. “I look back at (those games) every day, and I don’t want to take losses like that ever again.”
Cabrillo went 2-8 last season, and has only won three Moore League games in the last two years, but second-year head coach Mike Ulufale is trying to add more consistency, cohesion and competitiveness to the program. Ulufale is the sixth head coach in the last 11 years at Cabrillo.
“As everybody knows at Cabrillo we’ve been going through coaches like crazy,” Ulefale said. “This is my second year, so that means these kids have bought in. We’ve had these kids together since January and we’ve been grinding. The time has come. It’s time to put up or shut up.”
As has been the case recently, Cabrillo is struggling with depth since they only have about 40 players on the JV/Varsity squad. Ulufale said the key to his teams success is to compete and stay healthy, especially up front where the Jaguars are the most experienced.
Senior captains Jose Lopez and Derek Reyes will be at the offensive tackle positions where the 6’2” 230-pound Lopez is a four-year starter. Junior Ivan Robles is back and center, as is senior Nicolas Marino at right guard. Senior Alonzo Naosusuga is the only newcomer on the offensive line, but that’s only because he didn’t play last year. All of those lineman will be going both ways because of that lack of depth.
Junior Justin Edale is up from the JV team to take over at quarterback, and his top priority will be getting McMillan the ball. The speedy 5’6” McMillan was a spark plug for the Jaguars offense last season, and he coaching staff is trying to find creative ways to get him the ball.
“He’s the go-to guy,” Ulufale said.”I’m putting him all over the place. We have to hide him, and he’s small enough to do it.”
McMillan could even line up at running back, but senior Spencer Cooley, junior Jonathan Gonzalez and senior Angel Castro will get the majority of carries early in the season. Cooley is also back after taking a year off.
The defensive front seven is where Cabrillo is hanging its hat, and stopping the run will be their top priority this season. Senior captain Edgar Haro is back at defensive end next to Naosusuga, Reyes, Robles and Marino. Gonzalez and Reyes will be the top two linebackers while McMillan and Cooley lead the secondary.
McMillan will line up at corner back opposite senior Mark Mababa, and Cooley will be at safety next to junior Jhamillen Lacour.
Ulufale said this group is very close, and some of them even work summer jobs together before and after football practice.
“I just want the kids to compete whether it’s a blowout or not,” Ulufale said. “Last year we took a lot of beatings, and we didn’t know the meaning of competing. The players look at the scoreboard and it reflects on how they play. But if we just compete and have fun and play the game things will turn around. That’s what we’re trying to do this year is turn things around. We’re small but we’re not going away.”