Scots primed to make a postseason run and build program back up
CALEXICO, Calif. (KYMA, KECY) - The 2021 season was a year to put in the rearview mirror for the Vincent Memorial Scots football team. A season ending with three losses, culminating in a 5-5 record.
That was not ideal for a program that went 29-9 from 2017 to 2019, reaching the CIF San Diego Section Division VI title game in 2017.
Now entering the 2022 season, the mission is to regain some supremacy in the Imperial Valley again - a program trying to get back to the mountain they recently stood on.
After struggling with numbers over the past two Covid-riddled seasons, the Scots did what they could to bring in a platoon of of players - and it worked.
Nearly 70 kids - many that will have to start at the JV level - have sprinkled onto the practice field over the course of the first couple weeks, creating a big problem to have: running out of equipment.
“We have a record number, close to 70 players. Never had that in the school history," said assistant coach Fernando Santana. "We got the people now. We have a lot of players. So we’re excited for this season.”
Excited might be an understatement for a program that has tasted recent success, and with 10 coaches driving the ship under the helm of 8th year head coach David Wong, the Scots are primed for a comeback year after only losing a handful of seniors.
“They look bigger and more mature," said Santana. "They've been hitting the weights. And we're getting to the point where every year we're getting a good generation and I think we're going to be more stable to compete."
But it all starts with the kid under center - one that shined through last season.
Jacobo Elias enters his Junior season as an experienced quarterback who is set to be a leader on and off the field.
“We’re expecting a lot from him," said Santana. "He can throw, he’s very smart. He knows the game.”
Elias knows the game so well that he racked up 2,942 total yards in 2021, which was good for 8th in all of CIF San Diego Section.
But it’s his unwavering leadership that will speak volumes this season.
“I like to step up and be their guy to look up to. If they need any advice, I can be there," said Elias. "I represent the school and I represent the whole team being the quarterback. And I like to wear the helmet.”
With that helmet on, Elias’ unique ability allows him to thrive in a spread offense catered to his athleticism.
“That’s one thing we like about Jacobo is he can read defenses and he has green light to take off if he sees something," added Santana.
It's a spread offense that the Scots started going to back when they tore through the Imperial Valley, starting in 2017. And it's an offense that they're going to stick with.
"Last year we had to throw the ball because our running back broke his collarbone and we didn't have that hole to fill," said Santana. "This year we have runnings back, and we know we can rely on the pass but we're going to mix in the run when we can in the spread. First thing is to make first downs. More of that we do, we can control the ball and score."
While they're confident in the offense, the focus this year is on the defensive side of the ball.
"We're improving on our defense. We want to be a more aggressive unit," said Santana. "Now with more players, we can be more aggressive with tackling and hitting in practice."
The increase in players now allows the Scots to play more live speed in practice, given the amount of extra hands they have so that starters don't need to play on both sides of the ball during the season. Something that hurt them last year when getting gassed in the fourth quarter.
It allows gives more freshman a chance at the varsity level - only strengthening the numbers.
"The freshman are doing well. I like having them to help lead them," said Elias. "We had a pretty good JV team last year and they came to play. They want to hit. They want to play football."
But in the end, no matter the talent at quarterback, or what's going on on the defensive side, the mantra for this team is for everyone to do their part.
“We’re not just a one man team and we don’t want to be," said coach Santana. "We want to be a whole unit and we’re preparing the team to be a whole unit.”
Something Elias points to, as well. Even as a quarterback, he has to do his job like everyone else.
"Just because I'm quarterback doesn't mean I'm sending other guys to do my job. I still have to do my part," said Elias.
A mentality he and this coaching staff is running with and trying to implement into the young players - all in hopes of building their program back up to the top.
The Scots kick off the season on August 19th, hosting San Diego.