Preparation for the upcoming season began just hours after the 2012 team left their Pointer team room following a bitter 27-17 loss to Lincoln that eliminated them from the playoffs and dreams of a CIF title.
“This is the first Thanksgiving in
14 years we haven’t had a playoff game the next day,” said Pointer head coach Mike Hastings at the time.
For the team’s seniors, it was the end of the prep road. But for the team’s juniors, sophomores and a group of promising junior varsity players suited up that night, it was a signal to work harder, remember assignments more clearly and get bigger, stronger and faster before that upcoming kickoff.
Immediately after the playoff loss, Hastings and his staff began analyzing game video and evaluating their returnees. What worked best? What areas of weakness could be identified? Who were the Pointers’ most dependable players? What can the team do to get better?
Returning players went right to work in the school’s weight room. The facility is not just one for building bulging muscles, but one where coaches can teach and stress agility, stamina, quickness and other attributes they hope will spell the difference in games this season.
Hastings molds his program around a team motto: “EMAP: Every Man A Pointer.” And one way he builds team dedication and loyalty is with an annual mountain retreat where his upcoming varsity players spend an early-summer weekend together with no other distractions.
In a facility near Julian, Pointer players, who come from diverse backgrounds, work together, prepare meals together and spend time getting to know each other as people.
In one activity, the teens are encouraged to open up and share private fears. There is a team-building ropes challenge course, and time is spent discussing and establishing goals for the team, the offense and defense for the upcoming season. These goals are charted and posted in the team’s room and discussed before and after each game.
The team bonding that takes place pays on-field dividends all year, and the “EMAP” motto is spoken and heard many times each day.
With the months of July and August come daily practices as allowed by CIF rules. The team’s offense and defense is largely installed, and the relentless weight training and running continues.
Currently, coaches and players are in the midst of a CIF-mandated “no-contact period.” Organized workouts are prohibited.
But on the morning of Aug. 6, all that changes as the 2013 Pointers report for the season that will end with either a CIF banner or another emotional episode of tearful farewells to the seniors.
The dreaded “Hell Week” of two-a-day practices run from Aug. 8-16, six days a week for nine hours a day with breaks for lunch.
After Aug. 16, practices cut back to 4.5 hours a day as the squad prepares for its annual pre-season scrimmage.
Suddenly, the calendar will show
Aug. 31, and the Pointers must play another opponent every week despite soreness, injuries and exhaustion. It’s a daunting task, but one they’ve been preparing for and anticipating for months.
• The annual scrimmage for varsity (6 p.m.) and junior varsity (4 p.m.) will be held Aug. 23 at Mission Hills High School, 1 Mission Hills Court, San Marcos. The Pointer freshman team’s scrimmage is TBA.
• Varsity players will be back on campus at 8 a.m. Aug. 24 for video study of their performance the previous night. Coaches often stay up much of the night analyzing the video, and are now able to send specific video to players’ home computers to help them improve.
• Parents put on a team dinner the evening before each Pointer game. The first will be at 4:30 p.m. Aug. 30 in the school cafeteria.
• Prospective freshman players should have already completed physicals and paperwork. Latecomers should contact Hastings at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• All three Pointer teams will make their 2013 debut Aug. 31. Freshman (10 a.m.), junior varsity (12:30 p.m.) and varsity (3 p.m.) will all see action against South Bay’s Olympian High, which laid a 38-10 whipping on the 2012 varsity in the season’s second week.