Pirates on the Rise

When Jon Mack took over the head coaching job for Ventura, much was expected from him. Mack was a legendary high school coach at St. Bonaventure High School where he was the most successful High School coach in the county's history, ending his career there with an outstanding 163-47-1 record. He hasn't disappointed the Pirate fans in his short time at Ventura either.

After a slow start for the offense last season, in which they only scored a total of six points in losses to Cerritos and Harbor, they won the eight out of their final nine contests, including an impressive Bowl victory over a solid Palomar team.

After winning their side of the Western States Conference last season, things look to get a little tougher for Mack in the newly formed Northern Conference of the National Division.

"This new conference will be tough," Mack said recently. "I'm not sure yet what I like or don't like about it, it's a wait and see situation. But, the stronger conference will make us prepare harder, and should help in recruiting players both in and out".

Leading the charge will be returning All WSC Pacific Honorable Mention QB Lee Mondol.

Mondol threw for a little over a 1000 yards last season in 8 games, but he had an efficient 142 QB rating and did a good job of managing games. He will be protected by veteran offensive linemen Jon Griffin and Adam Cherrie, along with newcomers Jordan Allred and Dan Pinsky. Tim Pope returns at wideout and Mike Lee returns as the leading rusher.

Defense was the name of the game for the Pirates last year, where they only gave up 15 points a game.

Trevor Lyne (49 tackles, 1 int. and 3 sacks) and Ed James lead a strong linebacking unit. Freshman Ryan Panapa should make an impact at LB also.

The Defensive Line returns Rickey Grant, Pat Henggler and Josh Aguirre, all who had solid seasons last year. Christian Monhan and Derrick Clune should get plenty of playing time as well.

In the secondary, Bryon Sells had a great season with three picks and four tackles-for-loss. Dakota Holland had a fantastic five picks last season. They should be shored up with Curtis Cole, a bounce back from Arizona State and freshman Travon Nixon.

Defense is definitely a plus for Ventura, and they are going to need it as the teams in their new conference will have much better offenses.

The offensive side of the ball will rely on game management and an experienced QB. Coach Mack believes his team will improve, but after winning their side of the WSC last season, they have a tough row to hoe this year having to play Bakersfield, Hancock, Canyons, Glendale, and Moorpark, who were the cream of the old WSC crop.

However, Mack's main emphasis is team play and improvement. His motto is the old standby "Together Everyone Achieves More", but that is not just lip service. When he says it, he doesn't just mean the players.

"Every one of my assistants has made a significant difference in our program's continued improvement and success," Mack noted. "That goes for the school's President and Administration, the Dean and his Staff, our trainers and equipment manager, our counselors, secretaries, and even our custodians.

"Everyone is helping our program grow."

One thing you can take to the bank is that the Ventura defense will keep them in just about every game, and with very good local talent, and a nice new stadium to entice recruits, Ventura will continue to improve under Coach Mack.

The Pirates are being thrown into new shark infested waters, but they are still Pirates ready and willing to sack and pillage their opponents in 2008.

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