What could have been better for a first-year head coach than a 3-1 start? Not much, but a 0-6 end to the 2018 season has Todd Riccio and his Mustangs eager to solve what went sideways down the …
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What could have been better for a first-year head coach than a 3-1 start?
Not much, but a 0-6 end to the 2018 season has Todd Riccio and his Mustangs eager to solve what went sideways down the stretch heading into a new year.
After tweaked offseason scheduling, emphasis on team chemistry and health awareness, Riccio and his staff are excited to see what his returning players do in 2019.
“Out of the returners that were here last year, we expect some big things,” Riccio said last week in a phone interview. “We need a lot of them to contribute a lot for us. A couple of them will anchor the defense, a couple that guides our offensive line in helping take those next steps as units.”
Eighteen seniors find themselves in newly acquired leadership roles jumping into the new campaign. However, one question that is still up in the air is the quarterback position between senior Koby Hudson and junior Clayton Do.
“It’s still an open competition. They’re both doing a lot of good things by being coachable and doing what we are asking them to do. I think it is a good dynamic between the two of them as they push each other and help each. We are pretty happy of where they are at right now,” Riccio said.
In the split-back pistol offense, the necessity of getting the ball out on time to playmakers is a key to whoever wins the job. Do found his way into eight games in 2019, recording a 43 percent completion percentage while Hudson saw action in six contests with a 40 percent clip. The scoring clip of 8.1 points per game for the Mustangs must improve to compete in the problematic 5A Metro 10 Conference, and it starts behind the center.
Weapons and help on the outside will come from senior receivers Luigi Gavidia Francia and Logan Dexter as sophomore Anthony Vieth likely will take most of the snaps as the running back. Also, on the offensive line, Riccio brought up how the unit has become a close-knit group throughout offseason workouts, expecting improvement from them.
The defense for Mountain Range, despite not the prettiest numbers, kept their team in a lot of games last year. With limited time to recover on the sideline due to short offensive drives, this group could never find its groove after allowing just 10.75 ppg in the first four contests.
As unique talents find themselves in each section of the defense, senior defensive lineman Gerardo Fuentes, senior outside linebacker Luke Kylander and junior free safety Connor Hinkle space out the skill poised for enhanced success in the 4-4 scheme this fall.
“We are really excited to get the season going. It’s that time of year, and these kids are chomping at the bit to see what we can do against some other teams,” Riccio said. “I think the lessons we can take from last year is mainly staying together and sticking together. Just like in life, it’s going to throw you curveballs, and it’s how you deal with it and react to it.”
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