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High School Football Preview: Ocean View turns to senior quarterback Braden Crabtree

Braden Crabtree
Braden Crabtree, shown throwing during an Ocean View practice on Aug. 7, steps into the starting role following the graduation of Noah Hickman.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

A very different type of quarterback will be taking snaps for the Ocean View High football team this fall.

Two-year starter Noah Hickman, who threw for 1,649 yards, 24 touchdowns and just two interceptions last season, graduated and now plays for Hamline University in Minnesota. It will be difficult to replace Hickman, who also rushed for 700 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Hickman shared the Pac 4 League MVP award after helping the Seahawks (9-2) win a share of the crown, including a stunning 45-7 league win over eventual CIF Southern Section Division 11 champion Western. The nine wins also represented a program record for Ocean View, and the league title was Ocean View’s first since 1989.

Coach Luis Nuñez, in his eighth season, still likes who he has at quarterback.

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Senior Braden Crabtree takes over, and Nuñez believes he can succeed. Crabtree is the son of Sage Hill head coach BJ Crabtree, and his older brother, Nick, played tight end at Huntington Beach High and now plays for Boise State.

“It’s different,” Nuñez said. “Noah used his legs a lot and created a lot of problems for defenses. Braden’s not as mobile as Noah, but he’s got a way stronger arm. We feel he’ll be able to do some things that we haven’t been able to do at the quarterback position, because of his arm. I think we’ll give defenses fits, where they’re going to have to cover all four of our receivers. He can make all of the throws on the football field, with ease.”

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Brandon Alcaraz, shown catching a pass during an Ocean View practice on Aug. 7, made the All-Pac 4 second team in 2018.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

The transition at quarterback is symbolic of a younger team for the Seahawks, who return just two all-league players from a year ago. Senior defensive end Josh Roberts, a three-year starter, was a first-team All-Pac 4 League selection, and senior receiver Brandon Alcaraz earned a second-team nod last year.

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Nuñez expects Alcaraz, who had 21 catches for 473 yards and six touchdowns last season, to again excel as a senior. Alcaraz said despite the team success a year ago, it was a trying season at times, ending with an 30-14 upset loss at Irvine in the first round of the Division 11 playoffs. Ocean View, which opened the year as the top-ranked team in Division 11, was the No. 4 seed in CIF.

The Seahawks moved down one division to Division 12 this year.

“Last year we won, but the process of going through the wins, it wasn’t fun,” Alcaraz said. “People [messing] around in practice, people doing this and that. It wasn’t fun at all. You’ve got to take the wins ... but the attitude of the team was not good. Just because you have talent doesn’t mean you can abuse your talent.

“As soon as they take the lead, we’re done. That was the attitude of last season. [We] completely quit. A one-touchdown lead, that’s it, and the whole team shut down. That’s something we do not have this year. We’re down by one, we fight and we come back. It’s way different this year for attitude and character. We’ll get far.”

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Jonathan Gonzalez, center, rests between 40-yard sprints during an Ocean View practice on Aug. 7.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

Nuñez said Fountain Valley transfer Dillon Kerrigan is a senior slot receiver who also should make an impact, as will junior running back Jonathan Gonzalez.

Nuñez compared Kerrigan to Will Earthman, a graduate who used his speed running and catching the ball to rack up 1,189 total yards from scrimmage and 13 touchdowns for Ocean View last year.

“He’s a kid with wheels,” Nuñez said. “You drop down to our level, any guy with some speed and some wiggle can have some success.”

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Senior center Lucio Silva anchors the offensive line for Ocean View, and is the only returning starter there. Nuñez said he looks for junior offensive tackle Alexis Torres and senior guard KJ Boes to also make an impact.

“Our line’s actually the biggest its ever been, they’re just very young,” Nuñez said. “It’s going to take time for that group to come together, but when they do, it’s going to be fun.”

Roberts is a leader on defense, as well as Gonzalez at the linebacker position. The Seahawks suffered a blow when junior cornerback Raelen Bruce, a second-team all-league selection last year, moved to the Sacramento area.

As the most experienced player on the squad, Roberts said he also has noticed a more positive attitude this season for Ocean View, which opens the season with a home game against Los Amigos on Thursday at 7 p.m.

“I think that was the difference in the playoffs [last year],” Roberts said. “We were a good regular-season team because we had the talent. Then we played a team that was more prepared for us, and we didn’t know what to do. Now, people actually want to learn and want to do what they’re supposed to do.”

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Ocean View players warm up during practice on Aug. 7.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

OCEAN VIEW SEAHAWKS

CIF Southern Section Division: 12

Coach: Luis Nuñez (eighth year)

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Staff: Steven Burke (offensive coordinator), Chris Estrada (defensive coordinator/secondary), Andrew Reyes (secondary), Lee Afusia (defensive tackles), Peter Kim (linebackers), Donald Byrd (wide receivers), Vincent Perry (defensive ends), Josh Schlichter (linebackers)

2018 season: 9-2 overall, 2-1 in the Pac 4 League (tied for first); lost 30-14 to Irvine in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 11 playoffs

Offensive scheme: Spread

Defensive scheme: 4-2-5

Returning offensive starters: Two

Returning defensive starters: Three

Returning with honors: Sr. WR Brandon Alcaraz, Sr. DE Josh Roberts

SCHEDULE

August

30 — vs. Los Amigos

September

6 — at University

13 — vs. Beckman

19 — vs. Estancia at Orange Coast College, 7:30 p.m.

27 — vs. Dana Hills

October

4 — at Westminster

11— vs. Cerritos at Gahr High

18 — vs. Western*

25 — vs. Godinez* at Santa Ana Valley High

November

1 — vs. Laguna Beach*

*denotes league game

All games 7 p.m. unless noted

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