Gustine High’s football Reds are taking high expectations into their new season.
An experienced line returns to anchor the trenches on both sides of the ball - a group head coach Ronnie LaBry will be the engine that drives the team.
“I still say our strong point will be our line. We basically have the same crew back from last year,” LaBry commented.
Junior quarterback Jonathan Martin is back at the helm with a year of varsity experience under his belt.
Unexpectedly thrust into the starting position last year as a sophomore, Martin has grown into the position and had a solid pre-season scrimmage Friday at Orestimba, LaBry reported.
And several players who thrived when getting a taste of varsity action as underclassmen last year will be expected to play significant roles in the season ahead.
They were brought up to varsity out of necessity when injuries riddled the varsity roster, LaBry noted, and rose to the challenge.
“They little taste of varsity play gave them the motivation to work harder. It was a big jump for them, but they were up for it,” he said.
For the Reds, everything starts in the trenches.
LaBry said senior center Adam Caldera will call the shots on the line. Also returning are junior Jacob Levingston and seniors David Wilson, John Toste Jr. and Daniel Quinn.
The Reds will be run-heavy behind that line, LaBry said, but also hope to throw more often than in past seasons.
Unlike recent years, no single workhorse will carry the offensive load.
LaBry said sophomore Danny Hernandez, junior Jose Rios and seniors Ismael Amescua and Patrick Broderick will all get the call in the backfield. Each saw varsity playing time last season.
“All our backs should get pretty equal numbers of carries,” LaBry told Mattos Newspapers. “We will spread it around and try to keep everybody fresh.”
Junior Trenton Cremeen was an impact player when he made the move to the varsity ranks during last season.
Cremeen will be a go-to receiver when the Reds throw the ball, LaBry said. Cremeen is also expected to be a key defensive player and a factor on special teams.
“He showed last year that he belongs,” LaBry said. “He will be lucky if he gets off the field this year.”
Two other sophomores who earned varsity time last year also figure prominently in Gustine’s plans this season.
Mateo Gallichio will see time as defensive end and tight end, while Christian Garcia will step into the key middle linebacker slot on the defensive unit. Junior Brandon Peralta also figures prominently in Gustine’s defense, LaBry said.
“I think we’re going to be pretty good defensively,” LaBry commented. “We are going to be young, but we are fast.”
LaBry did not rule out bringing up additional players from the frosh-soph squad to add to the varsity roster depth - particularly after several turned heads with their scrimmage performance.
LaBry said he believes the Reds have the talent to put together another solid season and once again punch their playoff ticket.
Gustine has appeared in the playoffs four of the past five seasons, including the past two, LaBry said, and is well-positioned to continue that run of success.