George Pascoe is back in the saddle again.
The local coaching veteran has a long history with the Sunset League, beginning in 1976 when he was on staff for three years at Fountain Valley High during a stretch where the Barons won a CIF title in 1978. Other Sunset stops included coaching at Westminster (1981) and again at Fountain Valley (1982) before beginning a 15-year run as head coach at Huntington Beach (1983-97). He also was on the coaching staffs at the University of Arizona (1979-80) — the Wildcats played in the 1979 Fiesta Bowl — and Golden West College (1998-2003) before joining the Marina staff in 2004.
As he begins his seventh year at Marina, he does so as the school's new head coach.
Pascoe replaces Dan Petrone, who resigned at the conclusion of the 2009 season. Pascoe's first squad at Marina includes 14 starters back from last year. Of the eight returnees on defense is a trio of All-Sunset League players in senior defensive back Mitch Huffman (5-11, 185), senior inside linebacker Joey Livingston (6-0, 225) and senior defensive lineman David Drummond (6-4, 230).
Marina, which went 1-9 a year ago, hasn't been to the CIF playoffs since 2002. But it's now a fresh start for the Vikings who, in addition to playing for a new head coach, will don new uniforms this fall.
"I expect our team to play hard on every play, stay within themselves and not make stupid plays," Pascoe said. "We will play great defense and cause turnovers, then we will take advantage of a short field and make the most of it."
The Marina offense — Pascoe says the intention is to balance the run and pass — is headed by returning quarterback Nick Marshall (6-0, 200). The senior will be backed by junior Luke Fragale (6-0, 185). Marshall will handle the kicking chores, as well.
The running game features returner Alex Waked (5-11, 185, Jr.), Matt Wagner (5-10, 205, Sr.) and seniors Harley Shoffner (6-0, 210) and Cameron Mitchell (5-10, 175). Pascoe said Waked is "fast" and a good receiver, called Wagner a "strong, tough runner," and says Shoffner will "get tough yards."
The receiving department is a skilled group and includes Huffman, Brayde Hill (5-8, 150, Jr.), Andrew Prichard (5-10, 150, Jr.) and Scott Reed (5-8, 145, Jr.)
"Brayde Hill is very fast, Mitch Huffman catches everything, Andrew Prichard runs great routes and Scott Reed will play a great deal," Pascoe said.
Up front, Pascoe said the offensive line will be manned by Livingston, Shoffner, Alex Willingham (6-2, 225, Sr.), Izak Faoa (6-2, 260, Soph.), Brian Tran (5-11, 215, Sr.) and Jackson Clerisse (6-3, 290, Sr.).
The defense, which also will throw multiple looks at the opposition, has Drummond, Faoa, Willingham and Rick Merchant (6-0, 195, Jr.) up front. In the secondary will be all-leaguer Huffman, Eli Cabaccang (5-8, 135, Soph.), Eric Aldatz (6-0, 195, Sr.) and Perris Hagstrom (5-10, 180, Sr.). At linebacker, which Pascoe describes as the "best position" on the team, Marina has returning starters in Livingston, Wagner and Shoffner.
Marina will be tested early. The nonleague schedule begins Friday with a road game at Capistrano Valley. In fact, the Vikings are away for the first six weeks of the season. They play their first true "home" game Oct. 22 against Fountain Valley. In all, they have just two home games, including a Nov. 12 regular-season finale against rival Huntington Beach, which is back as a member of the Sunset League.
Marina is looking for its first league win since 2004.
"Any time you come off an off-year, every game is important to build confidence," Pascoe said. "So, we must start fast and get some wins.
"As always, Edison and Los Al are the (league) favorites. I really believe we have a chance to mess things up for the rest of the league, the first time in a long time we will challenge teams."
Colors: Columbia Blue/Navy/Gold
Head Coach: George Pascoe (1st year)
Coaching Staff: Keith Laszlo (assistant head coach/defensive coordinator secondary); Jeff Anger (linebackers); Andrew Sweet (defensive line); Cody Jones (defensive line); Scott Brummett (wide receivers); Matt Brennan (quarterbacks); Turill Engleman (running backs).
2009 record: 1-9; 0-5 league (sixth)
Type of offense: Multiple
Type of defense: Multiple
Friday: vs. at Capistrano Valley, 7 p.m.
Sept. 17: at Westminster, 7 p.m.
Sept. 24: at Warren, 7 p.m.
Oct. 1: at Aliso Niguel, 7 p.m.
Oc. 7: at Western, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14: at *Edison (at Huntington Beach High), 7 p.m.
Oct. 22: vs. *Fountain Valley, 7 p.m.
Oct. 28: at *Los Alamitos (at Veterans Stadium), 7 p.m.
Nov. 4: at *Newport Harbor, 7 p.m.
Nov. 12: vs. *Huntington Beach, 7 p.m.
(home site: Westminster High)
(*denotes Sunset League game)