The 2001 Los Medanos
Location: Pittsburg, California
Head Coach: Van Boschetti (20th Season)
2000 Record: 5-6
Bowl Game: Lost to Santa Rosa in East County Bowl, 49-28
Los Medanos head coach Van Boschetti is optimistic about his team's chances in 2001. Playing with a number of freshman as starters in 2000, the Stangs were able to put together a decent regular season at 5-5. They started the 2000 season in fine fashion. However, a 1-4 record in the Mid-Empire Conference squared the Mustangs' record at 5-5.
If the team is to improve from their .500 record in 2000, the tempo will have to be set by the Stangs' three sophomore linebackers. Sione Finau (6-1, 230, Ygnacio Valley H.S.), John Sioui (6-2, 235, Concord H.S.), and Fred Kelley (6-1, 220, Liberty H.S.) will be the core of the Mustangs' defensive unit, which was in the middle of the pack in the state in 2000.
Finau is likely the top prospect of the three. He was a first team All-Mid-Empire Conference player as a freshman in 2000. He is especially strong against the run and is working on his pass defense in a conference with many teams that run a single back offense. John Sioui can play both linebacker and defensive end for the Mustangs, depending on what they are doing defensively. He moves well and has a good frame. Fred Kelley was the Mustangs' starting tailback in their single back offense in 2000. His move over to the defensive side of the ball guarantees the Stangs some great speed among their linebackers.
Joining the outstanding linebacking corps are a pair of defensive linemen that the Mustangs expect big things from in 2001. Chris Hesse (6-0, 237, De la Salle H.S.) is one of the smaller defensive linemen you will find starting at this level, but Hesse makes up for his lack of size with quickness and strength that allow him to be very effective inside. He is able to avoid blocks with his speed. He comes from a De La Salle program that hasn't lost a game in years. Joining Hesse is sophomore Michael Fonongaloa (6-3, 280, Pittsburg H.S.), who will be competing for the other defensive tackle position.
The Mustangs' secondary is in good hands with the return of starting safety Damien Chumley (6-0, 200, Abraham Lincoln H.S). Joining Chumley are sophomore defensive backs George DeJesus (5-11, 165, Liberty H.S.) and Elgin Lawson (5-10, 170, Pittsburg H.S.).
The offensive side of the ball will be considerably younger, with only two returning starters. Offensive tackle Anthony Garcia (6-0, 240, College Park H.S.) was a starter in 2000. Fellow sophomore Jeremy Leslie (6-0, 250, Freedom H.S.) will be competing for a spot on the line.
The other returning starter is a player that made a big impact for the Mustangs in 2000 in receiver/ punt/kick returner John Craig (5-11, 155, Pittsburg H.S.). Craig averaged 117 total yards per game, completing the season with 422 yards receiving, 197 punt return yards, and 560 kick return yards.
Although Craig is the only returning starter at receiver, one name to remember is former Ygnacio Valley standout Will Smith (6-2, 195). Smith was reportedly the second most highly sought after player in the Bay area in 1999 after De la Salle's D.J. Williams (Univ. of Miami). Smith played defensive back for the Mustangs in 2000, but he struggled at making the transition from the high school to the collegiate game and ended up as a back-up in 2000. This Spring, he was moved over to receiver and since moving there, Smith has blossomed. According to Coach Boschetti, Smith looks great on the offensive side of the ball and will likely start and do very well. Academic problems may keep him from moving on to the Division I level.
Fellow sophomores Jim Fultz (5-11, 155, Ygnacio Valley H.S.) and Brian Stewart (6-0, 170, Pittsburg H.S.) will also be competing for positions in the Mustangs' four receiver offense.
Eric Alexander (6-3, 202, El Cerrito H.S.) was the team's number two quarterback in 2000 and will compete for the starting job in 2001 with the incoming freshman class. With Fred Kelley having moved over to defense, the Stangs will have to identify a new single back in their offense.
Placekicker Daniel Cueva (5-10, 165, Freedom H.S.) returns after connecting on 21 of 32 PATs and 5 of 10 field goals in 2000. Cueva is good from inside of 35 yards and is working on his range. The Stangs will have a tough time replacing two-time All-Conference punter Jason Guerrero, who will likely play for the University of Oregon in 2001 as a late signee.
Playing with a smaller squad of local players (52 in 2000), the Mustangs tend to be a strong program in the Mid-Empire Conference year in and year out. It appear that if LMC can identify a few key starters on offense, the Mustangs will be a strong squad in 2001.