Head coach Mike Hastings takes his newest Pointers back to Oceanside’s El Camino High School on Friday, Aug. 29, for their season opener against the team that booted them from the CIF playoffs in November during a 14-13 loss that saw a late PLHS touchdown run called back by game officials on a rarely called “hurdling” penalty.
Since then, 20 Pointer seniors have moved on, and an energetic and optimistic group of new seniors, juniors and sophomores have seized ownership of a new season and an opportunity to unseat last year’s Western League champion Madison High (4-0 in league, 9-2 overall).
The Pointers finished with their first losing season (2-2, 5-6) in a dozen years, also falling behind upstart Mission Bay (3-1, 12-2) whose season ended in a CIF Div. II championship appearance in Qualcomm Stadium after upsetting Madison in the quarterfinals.
Then, on Sept. 6, the Pointers return to the familiar confines of Pete Ross Stadium for the annual “Kickoff Game,” a full-day of action featuring all three Pointer teams battling Ramona.
The freshman team opens play at 10 a.m., followed by the junior varsity at 12:30 p.m. Varsity action gets under way at 3 p.m.
After making the long trek inland to Ramona last season, Pointer fans will welcome the Bulldogs and their supporters to the coast. Last year’s game, postponed several hours in 110-degree heat, resulted in a hard-fought 21-19 Ramona victory.
The Bulldogs went on to a 10-2 season that ended in a 20-0 loss in the CIF Div. I semi-final game to eventual champion Cathedral High.
Pointer senior quarterback Gavin Grady (6 feet, 2 inches, 175 lbs.), who passed for 495 yards last season while sharing the position, assumes full control this year. He completed 54 percent of his throws for six touchdowns and was intercepted three times in the run-oriented Dog offense.
While only a sophomore last year, Jaylen Griffin (5 feet, 9 inches, 160 lbs.) ran for 598 yards and seven touchdowns, averaging eight yards per carry. He added 20 yards on each of six catches, including the team’s longest play from scrimmage (a 67-yard touchdown). With 319 yards in kickoff returns, including a 99-yard touchdown, Griffin totaled 1,035 all-purpose yards to lead returning players.
Offensive lineman Seth Irby (6 feet, 4 inches, 255 lbs.) returns to open running lanes and repel pass rushers after earning second-team all-league status last year.
Defensively, several returnees share the spotlight.
Linebacker Dan O’Beirne (6 feet,
1 inch, 215 lbs.) enters his senior season as last year’s leader in tackles (47). The senior plays smartly and is a leader on the field.
Defensive end Cole Kidd (6 feet,
1 inch, 200 lbs.), also a senior, recorded 25 tackles (four for losses) in eight 2013 games. He also led the Pointers with 3.5 quarterback sacks, two hurries, five passes defended, one fumble caused and one recovered. Kidd’s pressure on opposing players earned him a second -eam all-league spot.
Another Pointer who gives opposing coaches fits is tall defensive lineman Tim O’Brien (6 feet, 7 inches, 250 lbs.) whose raised hands force opponents to throw over a 10-foot wall. He also earned second-team all-league status with 19 tackles, two passes defended and a half-sack.
O’Brien is also taking reps during practice as a tight end on offense.
• Hastings begins his 17th season as Pointer head coach with an overall record of 113 wins, 70 losses and two ties.
• Former NFL linebacker Chris Washington has joined the Pointer coaching staff. He played seven seasons for Tampa Bay and Phoenix and is the older brother of NBA power forward Kermit Washington.
• Senior citizens are admitted free to all PLHS athletic events except CIF playoffs.
• El Camino head coach Pulu Poumele was sent packing last season after his team lost its quarterfinal CIF playoff game to finish 0-4 in the Avocado West League and 5-7 overall. John Roberts replaces him.
2014 PLHS FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
• Aug. 29 @ El Camino 7 p.m.
• Sept. 6 Ramona 3 p.m.
• Sept. 12 @ Lincoln 6 p.m.
• Sept. 19 Morse 3 p.m.
• Sept. 26 @ Santana 7 p.m.
• Oct. 3 Scripps Ranch 3 p.m.
• Oct. 10 Kearny * 3 p.m.
• Oct. 17 La Jolla *# 6:30 p.m.
• Oct. 24 Bye
• Oct. 31 Mission Bay * 3 p.m.
• Nov. 7 @Madison * 6:30 p.m.
* Denotes Western League game
# Denotes Homecoming