Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013 | 8:15 p.m.
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Prep Sports Now returns from hibernation just in time for football season. Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer go through every league and discuss every team in town, giving predictions along and players to watch along the way.
Desert Oasis hopes the old “best thing about freshmen is they become sophomores” trope correspondingly applies to second-year players.
The most redeeming quality of the Diamondbacks' 2-8 campaign a year ago was how many sophomores they played regularly. Now juniors, that’s the group that will lead Desert Oasis in the 2013 season.
“We got experience in a lot of spots,” Desert Oasis coach Scott Staudinger said. “We’re hoping all those reps got those guys in a position to succeed as juniors, and it’s looked good so far. But it’s hard to gauge until we actually go up and get some live-game action.”
After practicing for a month, Desert Oasis finally opens its season Thursday night by hosting Del Sol. The Diamondbacks hope a defense that was a liability a year ago — they gave up an average of 42.5 points — completes its transformation into a strength.
Seven players with starting experience return on the stop unit including juniors Brandon Gaeta, Rocco Cabrejos and Ryan Heinz in the front six.
Last year, that would have been front seven as Desert Oasis ran a base 4-3 defense. But Staudinger built around his personnel and implemented a new scheme that will debut against the Dragons.
“We went to a 3-3-5 look to get more of our athletes on the field,” Staudinger said. “And so far, so good.”
The offense underwent changes of its own. Gone are the spread formations Desert Oasis spent most of 2012 tinkering with against its Southwest division opposition.
The Diamondbacks will revert to the power-I formation they were known for in previous years. A big reason is to make use the specialized skills of senior running back Jocquez Kalili.
“He’s got a speed element that we haven’t had back there in the past,” Staudinger said.
At quarterback, senior Richie Stammetti played several series last year and showed he was capable of filling the role. The Diamondbacks will also find ways to get the ball to seniors Gary Abdella and Blake Kutz, who play wide receiver and fullback respectively.
Offensive line is the biggest concern as, unlike the defense, none of the five nonsenior starters got much playing time last season. Staudinger’s message to them, however, doesn’t deviate from the rest of the team.
“We feel like last year we didn’t compete throughout entire games,” he said. “We’ve gone back to the motto that we’re going to compete in everything we do — every rep in the weight room and every play on the field.”