As part of our annual high school football preview, we headed out to Capistrano Valley Christian training camp.
By Steve Breazeale
It will be a season filled with firsts for the Capistrano Valley Christian football team, as the program will be under the guidance of first-year head coach Rick Curtis.
It will not, however, be Curtis’ first time holding a clipboard.
Curtis is entering his 40th year of coaching in the Southern California area. He most recently served as the head coach at Santa Margarita, where he coached from 2013-2015. Curtis had previous coaching stints at Laguna Hills, Servite, Irvine, University and Northwood, where he was the head coach for 13 years.
Curtis was brought on to lead the football team as well as serve as the athletic director at CVCS. Curtis replaces former coach Eric Preszler, who left for Arrowhead Christian.
Curtis inherits a young team that finished in a tie for second place in the San Joaquin League last season. The Eagles were eyeing a playoff berth, but lost a coin flip tiebreaker and were pushed out of the 2015 postseason.
Curtis brings with him a new set of standards and a new football system to which the Eagles have spent the offseason adjusting. Their practices are more regimented, as a large group of inexperienced players are learning the ropes alongside a small group of veterans.
“(Curtis) is very disciplined, which is very good because it keeps us all in line,” senior quarterback Dawson Piper said of his new coach. “It keeps it all running smooth.”
Curtis maintains that the offense will not see that much change compared to last season, and it will still feature the strong arm of Piper, who is one of a handful of returning Eagles starters. Piper has been designated “field general” by Curtis and his staff and will play both quarterback and safety on the defensive side of the ball.
The senior signal caller threw for 1,889 yards and 16 touchdowns as a junior and has learned to work in the new staff’s offensive schemes, which will feature more players in the backfield and a few more power formations, according to Curtis.
“Physically, (Piper) has the tools,” Curtis said. “He’s starting to learn how to read defenses and run the show and be the game manager. He’s the general, and that’s what we’re looking for.”
All-San Joaquin League selection Nolan Kahal will play an important role for the Eagles, serving as both a tight end, middle linebacker and occasional fullback. Kahal’s physicality, coupled with the speed of senior running back Garin Green, will give the Eagles a dynamic backfield when they decide to run the ball, Curtis said.
The Eagles do not have a lot of size on both the offensive and defensive lines, but they possess speed, according to Curtis.
One key to the team’s success this season will depend on the offensive line’s ability to mesh together and pave the way for the team’s speedy playmakers. CVCS returns Collin Thornton (guard), Matt Moscosa (guard) and Jacob Carreon (tackle) to the offensive line. Defensive end Keston Katijani and tackle Allan Cai return.
Piper (safety) and Kahal will help anchor the Eagles up the middle on defense. Rising sophomore Jack Roberts, who Curtis labeled as the program’s likeliest breakout player, will play outside linebacker.
One more first that the program will have to deal with is the team’s placement in CIF-SS Division 11. The Eagles moved up two divisions this offseason due to the CIF-SS competitive equity realignment.