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Football Preview: Wilson Bruins

The562’s coverage of Long Beach Wilson Athletics is sponsored by Joel Bitonio, Class of 2009.

In an effort to shake things up and avoid repeating the struggles of recent seasons, the Bruins are trying things a little different this year. Wilson has new players, new coaches, a new offense and a new style of practice.

“There’s no sense in looking back on the last couple years, but also learning that there’s no more than a few close games that could have been won if we had made a few plays or not made a few mistakes here and there,” Wilson coach Scott Meyer said. “Every point matters.”

Wilson has gone 5-14 overall and 3-8 in the Moore League in the last two full seasons under Meyer. The Bruins haven’t reached the playoffs since 2019.

“I think this is a big year for us as far as getting into the playoffs,” Meyer said. “If we get in this year, I think it’ll really kind of help us to take that next big step to where we eventually want to get.”

The most notable change for Wilson this season is the handful of new coaches. Former offensive coordinator Jim Houston has moved over to coach the offensive line, and new OC Demonte King has taken over with his new multifaceted scheme. King is a Los Alamitos alum who was a defensive back and captain at Arizona State University.

Brandon Sicillia is the new receivers coach and Kyle Bannerman is now working with the running backs. On defense, Glenn Harper (defensive line), Azeem Victor (linebackers) and Barry Thomas (defensive backs) are also new coaching additions.

“There is a good new energy,” Meyer said. “These guys are really into it and they really believe and understand that  this is a place where we should be able to build something. We just have to continue to put the time and the work into it.”

Another strategic change is platooning the offensive and defensive personnel. Instead of having a lot of upperclassmen playing on both sides of the ball, Meyer and his staff have split the team up into two units. Only a small group of seniors will go both ways while the rest of the team can concentrate on one  position.

“The practices are much more efficient,” Meyer said. “The guys get a lot more coaching and a lot more reps… and going against each other in practice, we get a best on best look every day now… every day we’re knocking on wood to stay healthy.”

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All-Moore League running back Christian Chapman is the top returner for Wilson. The senior rushed for 1,206 yards and 10 touchdowns last year, and if he can repeat that 1,000+ yard season he has a chance to leave Wilson as the all-time leading rusher in program history.

At quarterback, senior Ian Bond is back but he has some competition with the arrival of sophomore Mack Cooper. Both signal callers have gotten lots of reps in the offseason, and Bond has also been working out as a wingback to keep him on the field where he can use his big 6’3” 205-pound frame to block and create open space.

Those two will have returning wide receivers Maxwell Barbee, Azzan Tabari and Andrew Bond to throw to, and Meyer said sophomore Thomas Jones has been a pleasant surprise in the slot position.

On the offensive line, the 6’1” 240-pound senior Hunter Houston is the leader. He will play multiple positions in his third varsity season. He will be joined by fellow returners Isaac Cazares, Adrian Medrano and Christian Caesar. Senior D’Mari Elder and sophomore Cole Smullen are the newcomers.

Wilson’s defense will be led by defensive lineman Curtis Whiten. The 6’0” 262-pound nose guard is a three-year starter and has really taken advantage of concentrating only on defense in the new platooning style. Senior Irie Harper, senior Ethan Garcia and junior Enrique Caro will flank Whiten.

The linebacking corps is fairly young with senior Alfredo Rosales, junior Kaden Draper and sophomore Luis Castro getting the majority of the practice snaps.

Seniors Hudson Deeble and Cruz Heavin will be the leaders in the secondary at safety while Tabari and Andrew Bond play outside as some of the only two-way players.

Wilson doesn’t have a Week 0 game on the schedule, so its first game isn’t until Aug. 25 when they visit Redondo Union. The Bruins first home game is Sept. 8 against California High before traveling to Millikan for the Moore League opener on Sept. 15.

VIDEO: Wilson Football Preview 2023

Probable Starters:


QB - Ian Bond (Sr.) / Mack Cooper (So.)

RB - Christian Chapman (Sr.)

WR - Maxwell Barbee (Jr.) / Andrew Bond (Sr.) / Azzan Tabari (Sr.) / Thomas Jones (So.)

OL - Hunter Houston (Sr.)

OL - Isaac Cazares (Sr.)

OL - Adrian Medrano (Sr.)

OL - Christian Caesar (Jr.)

OL - D’Mari Elder (Sr.)

OL - Cole Smullen (So.)


DL - Curtis Whiten (Sr.) / Irie Harper (Sr.) / Ethan Garcia (Sr.) / Enrique Caro (Jr.)

LB - Alfredo Rosales (Sr.) / Kaden Draper (Jr.) / Luis Castro (So.)

CB - Azzan Tabari (Sr.) / Andrew Bond (Sr.)

S - Hudson Deeble (Sr.) / Cruz Heavin (Sr.)

2023 Wilson Bruins Football Schedule

8/25 - at Redondo Union

9/1 - at Dana Hills

9/8 - vs. California

9/15 - at Millikan

9/22 - vs. Compton

9/29 - vs. Cabrillo

10/6 - at Long Beach Poly

10/13 - vs. Jordan

10/20 - at Lakewood

10/27 - at Saddleback

Massive Long Beach Football Preview
JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.