When Nate Mendoza was the Dos Pueblos football team’s defensive coordinator two years ago, the Chargers had a style of flying all over the field and delivering big hits.
That aggressive defense helped DP win the Channel League title.
Mendoza is now the head coach, and he says this year’s team will dedicate itself on playing tough, solid defense.
“I pride myself on having a great defense, a tough defense,” Mendoza said. “That’s what we’re shooting for this year.”
The Chargers have the personnel to shut down teams. All-league middle linebacker Nico Bornand (6-3, 220) leads an experienced, senior-laden defensive unit that took some lumps early last season before finishing strong and helping the team finish second in the Channel League and earn a CIF playoff spot.
“We’ve got a really strong senior class,” Mendoza said. “These guys are class acts. They’re setting the tone for the entire program.”
Bornand, who is also a standout kicker and punter, will be joined on defense by returning all-leaguer Jason Schwartz (6-2, 225) at defensive end, linebacker Anthony Spiritosanto (5-11, 210), linemen Jarad Starr (5-11, 225) and Alec Marmo (5-11, 210) and safety Jordan Degraffinreid (5-11, 175).
Spiritosanto figures to be the featured back on offense. The senior has added muscle to take on the heavier load.
“He put on weight during the offseason; he’s up to about 210,” Mendoza said. “He did a fantastic job in baseball and was an all-leaguer. We expect him to be very involved defensively and offensively.”
Mendoza, a former star player for a CIF championship team at Lompoc High, will be using a modified Lompoc-style scheme on offense.
“We’re really focused on repping plays over, over and over,” he explained. “I’m not overwhelming (the players) with a large playbook. My theory is let’s get good at 20 plays rather than having 50 plays in our playbook. That way everybody knows their assignments and we’re disciplined on offense as well.”
There is a battle at quarterback between senior Nolan Soto and junior LeShon Bell. Soto, a standout pitcher on the baseball team, started for the varsity last season. Bell is the son of former NFL (Bills, Rams, Raiders) running back Greg Bell.
“It’s a good competitive atmosphere with those guys,” said Mendoza.
The quarterbacks will work behind an experienced offensive line, led by Schwartz. The skill players around them include Spiritosanto, Dylan Rhode and Schwartz at running back and receivers Bornand and Matt Sessler.
Last year’s record: 3-8, first round of CIF-SS Western Division playoffs
This year’s Schedule: CLICK HERE
Top Returners: Jason Schwartz, Sr., DE/OT/FB, 6-2, 230 (all-league first team); Nicolai Bornand, Sr. TE/LB, 6-2, 230 (all-league first team); Anthony Spiritosanto, Sr. RB/LB 5-11, 210 (all-league first team); Harrison Smith, Sr. C/DT, 5-9, 205; Nolan Soto, Sr. QB/LB, 5-10, 190; Jarad Starr, Sr. DT, 5-11, 225; Jordan Degraffinreid, Sr. Safety, 5-11, 175; Alec Marmo, Sr. OG/DT, 5-11, 210
Promising newcomers: Leshon Bell, Jr. QB/S, 6-1, 195; Liam Stimson, Jr. OG/OT/DE, 6-2, 185; Kane Edwards, Sr. WR/OLB, 6-3, 175
Strengths on offense: Strong Running Backs in Anthony Spiritosanto and Dylan Rohde. Also, an offensive line with some varsity experience.
Strengths on Defense: Returning a good amount of starters. A strong starting front 7 that works well together. Three players returning for their 3rd year on varsity on defense: Bornand, Spiritosanto and Schwartz.
Outlook: “The entire senior class has taken complete ownership of this team and serve as great leaders for the student-athletes in our entire program. They are laying the pavement for the future of this football program. We will take it one week at a time and are expecting to compete in every game we play in this season.”