Musical chairs

Rick Devereux

Establishing a depth chart for the Estancia High football team is

difficult to do, if, for no other reason, because establishing a set

offensive formation will be difficult.

"My philosophy is to put the player in a position where he is

successful, because if he is successful then the team is successful,"

Eagles second-year Coach Craig Fertig said. "Our offense is a going

to be a hodgepodge of formations. We will run I-backs, wishbone, and

basically everything under the map."

One constant will be Geo Macias.

The 5-foot-11, 170 pound senior will be asked to perform a variety

of tasks on offense, defense and special teams.

"He has been a great player for the school over the years," Fertig

said. "We're going to figure out ways to get him the ball. As an

opposing coach, you're going to have to figure out where he is and

you're going to see him at different positions."

Fertig will also use his three quarterbacks -- Ryan Watson, Nick

Cox and Tim Morley -- at a variety of spots as opposed to regulating

them to holding clipboards and charting plays when not on the field.

"I learned from [former Ohio State] Coach Woody Hayes years ago

that the best athletes at the high school level will be the

quarterbacks and fullbacks," Fertig said. "He said to use those

people anyway you can. I listen to Coach Hayes."

The trio of QBs will be backups, and possible starters, in the

defensive secondary and other offensive skill positions.

Here are, as faithfully as can be determined, a

position-by-position break down of the Eagles:

Quarterback: The quarterback position is still wide open with any

of the three capable of finding playing time behind center. Watson, a

junior, threw two passes last year as a backup. Cox is a senior who

did not play football last year. Both have performed well during the

off-season, but Fertig was particularly pleased with the development

of Morley, the sophomore signal-caller.

"Morley has really stepped up over the summer," Fertig said. "His

strength of arm and anticipation are impressive. I've coached a lot

of quarterbacks in my time and he can anticipate before a receiver

makes a break. Some call it a quick release, but I call it

anticipation."

Macias could also end up throwing some passes for Fertig.

Running backs: The majority of the rushing attack will come from

seniors Bryce McKendry and Dave Moreno.

McKendry (6-4, 205) did not play football last year, but has

emerged as one of the top tailbacks on the team.

"He's a big kid and has good sense and is a good athlete," Fertig

said.

Moreno (6-0, 200) is the top returning rusher with 236 yards on 59

carries with one touchdown, but could be moved to fullback.

"What I'm trying to do is put my best players out there," Fertig

said. "It might be Moreno blocking in front of Bryce or vice versa."

Macias, who carried the ball 10 times for 103 yards and one score

last year, will get some carries. Senior Ricky Montgomery (5-7, 160)

will also get looks at running back.

The quarterbacks are the backups at running back and Fertig said

he is looking for another fullback.

Receivers: Macias led the team with 261 receiving yards last year

and was tied for second with 11 receptions. Senior Ryan Sanford, who

was fourth on the team with an average of 10.3 yards per catch last

season, will start opposite Macias.

Ezequiel Villalvazo (5-10, 160) and Montgomery are the main

backups, with the quarterbacks also getting a chance to catch the

ball.

Tight ends: Senior Mike Courtney (5-10, 180) is the better

blocker, junior Oscar Pedroza is the better receiver and sophomore

Matt Redding (6-2, 165) has the biggest upside, but all three will be

in the rotation at tight end, which figures to be a more integral

position of the offense due to the talent at wide receiver.

"The tight end is key to the type of offense we run because

defenders are going to double-up on the guys outside," Fertig said.

"When that happens, we will throw inside to the tight ends."

None had a reception last year.

Offensive line: Fertig said he believes he has two legitimate

college prospects on the line with senior Ian Morton (6-4, 270) and

junior Nelson Leon (6-1, 200). Morton will play right tackle and

Nelson could play center or guard.

"Morton can play guard, tackle or center ," Fertig said. "He's

smart and he's big enough to play in college and he will only get

bigger. Leon is very athletic for his size and is only a junior."

Next to Leon in the middle will be Corona del Mar High transfer

Tim Bassler (6-0, 185), who will also rotate between guard and

center.

The left tackle spot will probably go to sophomore Stephen Ruby

(6-0, 175), but freshman Connor McKendry (6-3, 230) has impressed the

coaches and will eventually break the starting lineup this year. The

other guard spot is still uncertain.

"It's going to be a hodgepodge in the middle [of the offensive

line]," Fertig said. "We're not really big, but we're awfully quick."

A collection of sophomores and freshmen will serve as backups.

Defensive line: Morton will start at one defensive tackle position

and Leon will be a defensive end. The other two line spots in the 4-4

alignment have not been finalized, but Fertig said Moreno, Ruby and

Bassler are likely candidates.

Linebackers: Sanford, McKendry, senior Alex Sotomayor (5-9, 165)

and junior Clayton Mills (6-1, 185) are the projected starters, but

Leon, Moreno and Courtney will rotate playing time.

"Sotomayor doesn't have great size, but he sees where the ball is

going and blasts to it," Fertig said. "He has great instincts as a

linebacker."

Fertig did not distinguish who would be strongside or weakside,

inside or outside, because all of the players can and will be

switched around.

Secondary: Macias and Villalvazo are set as the cornerbacks.

Estancia will have an attacking defense, meaning the corners will

have to play a lot of man-to-man, and Fertig believes those two are

more than up to the challenge.

"Those two have dedication to the game," he said. "Football is fun

to them. Everybody wants more size, but they have the speed and

quickness to perform well. They're not that big but they will hit

you."

The free safety is Montgomery and the strong safety will be

Moreno, that is, when he isn't playing defensive end or linebacker.

Edison transfer Chris Ray (5-7, 150), Sanford and the quarterbacks

are the backups at all of the defensive back positions.

Kicking game: Macias, a special player, will handle most of the

special-team duties. He will kick and punt as well as return kickoffs

and punts.

Joining Macias returning kickoffs will be Villalvazo.

McKendry, Morton and Leon are the long snappers.

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