To say Justin Ewing was a major part of Capuchino’s perfect 5-0-league record last season would simply be an understatement. Last year for the Mustangs, Ewing rushed for 2956 yards (a single-season Central Coast Section record) and 33 touchdowns leading Capuchino to a Pacific Athletic League Lake division championship.
But with a new year comes new changes for the Mustangs. Ewing is gone, former head coach Adam Hyndman was replaced with Josh Horton, and now they’re making the jump to the PAL’s Ocean division.
Taking over a squad with this much change could be considered a challenge to some, but not to Horton. He’s bringing an entirely new philosophy to the Mustangs’ football program that’s already turning heads. A former military man, Horton, 27, preaches the importance of being a student first and an athlete second.
“Players must maintain a 3.0 GPA with a zero tolerance policy,” Horton said. “Bringing that to Capuchino so far has shown a huge turn that the community, school, parents and kids all see.” The players have taken Horton’s changes and embraced them leading to a commitment to excellence on and off the football field.
First thing on the agenda for Horton this upcoming season is the extremely difficult task of replacing Ewing. Horton believes he has the players on the roster to achieve just that.
“What Justin accomplished (last season) was amazing and beyond unique,” Horton said. “Replacing him, people would say, is a challenge, but on offense we have three amazing running backs. Last year I believe Justin was asked to do so much that the other guys didn’t get the opportunity to show proof, but now they will.”
Not one player can fill the gaping hole left in the Mustangs’ backfield made by the departure of Ewing, but a running back by committee approach could lead to a equally potent rushing attack this season for Capuchino.
Leading the Ewing replacement effort is senior running back Chris Costa and junior David Ortega, a blend of speed and agility that should give opposing defensive coordinators problems all season long.
Coming from Monte Vista-Danville, Horton has seen his share of talented quarterbacks, but he describes junior starting quarterback Tony Pelligrini as a perfect fit to run his read option offensive attack.
“Tony Pellegrini is a huge part of this offense,” Horton said.
With a roster as small as Capuchino has, many players are expected to carry multiple roles on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Junior John Fano has the size at 270-pounds to take on double teams in the interior of the defense while also possessing the speed to line up as a fullback in the Mustangs’ backfield. Sophomore Tarik Moore is expected to play linebacker, corner and receiver for Horton this year.
On defense, Horton points out Royal Ale as their leader and man in the middle. Ale started last season for the Mustangs.
Repeating the success Capuchino had last year amidst so much change is anything but easy, but Horton could be the head man the Mustangs need to accomplish just that.
Key Players: Chris Costa (sr. RB); John Fano (jr. FB/NT) Royal Ale (sr. OL/LB); George Fifita (sr. OL/DL); Tarik Moore (so. WR/LB) Tony Pellegrini (jr. QB)
2012 record: 5-0 PAL Lake, 6-5 overall
2013 schedule (home games in CAPS): 9/6 @Homestead, 7:30 p.m.; 9/13 @SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, 3:15 p.m.; 9/21 GUNN, 2 p.m.; 9/28 @El Camino, 11 a.m.; 10/11 ARAGON, 7 p.m.; 10/18 @Woodside, 7 p.m.; 10/25 @San Mateo, 7 p.m.; 11/1 @Burlingame, 7 p.m.; 11/8 HALF MOON BAY, 2:45 p.m.; 11/15 MILLS, 7 p.m.