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Otay Ranch Mustangs look to challenge for respect in Mesa League, CIF playoffs Phillip Brents | Fri, Sep 02 2011 12:49 AM

The Otay Ranch Mustangs, under second-year head coach Anthony Lacsina, should be considered outright contenders for the Mesa League championship title, currently held by east side rival Eastlake. A rivalry trophy has yet to be created between the two neighboring schools. After what expects to be a wild and exciting race for the 2011 league crown, perhaps one will be forthcoming in the series.

“We want to win league and compete in every game,” Lacsina said. “Our strength is that we have overall team speed at skilled positions. Our weakness is that we’re young, but confident.”

Otay Ranch dropped two decisions to Eastlake last year — 40-27 in league play and 21-17 in the quarterfinal round of the San Diego Section Division I playoffs. The Mustangs felt slighted by receiving only the No. 9 seed in the playoffs and promptly knocked off eighth-seeded El Camino, 44-12, in the opening round to make a statement for the talent assembled at The Ranch, both on the roster and among the coaching staff.

The playoff game against Eastlake was hard fought by both teams. “We had our chance to win,” Lacsina said.

The team has pledged to improve on last year’s 7-5 showing. To that end, Otay Ranch captured the consolation title at the South County passing tournament July 8-9 at Southwestern College. The Mustangs defeated Beaumont, 41-21, to secure the National Division playoff title.

Otay Ranch opened the tournament with a 34-15 loss to eventual championship bracket winner Helix and dropped an ensuing 34-2 match-up against Mt. Carmel. The Mustangs, however, righted themselves by defeating Eastlake 37-23.

In the second day of competition, Otay Ranch defeated Montgomery, Aliso Niguel and Escondido to advance to the consolation championship game.

Summer passing tournaments stress the aerial game, allowing both quarterbacks and receivers a chance to work on timing plays, as well as defenders, prior to the formal opening of training camps in August.

“The summer passing tournaments give the coaching staff an opportunity to look at players and what they can do,” Lacsina said. “We’re trying to find guys for the right position.”

Cody Springsguth and Sammy Perez handled the quarterback duties for Otay Ranch this summer. Both seem capable signal-callers and had little problem finding open receivers.

Springsguth completed nine of 24 passes for 129 yards and three touchdowns last year while mainly serving an understudy role to graduated senior Marcus Hernandez.

Top offensive targets, both at the wide-out positions and out of the backfield, include seniors Andrew Jones, Andre Jones, Donald Molton and David Mondy, juniors Chris Martin, Nicolas Gula and Deondrick Cunningham and sophomore Anthony Williams.

Mondy rushed for 795 yards and scored 11 touchdowns to lead the team’s rushing attack while also grabbing 18 balls for 287 receiving yards and five more scores. He was a first team all-league pick.

Molton rushed 19 times for 242 yards and scored three TDs. He can exhibit breakaway speed, romping 75 yards on his longest carry last season.
Martin showed flashes of brilliance at the receiver position with seven catches for 103 yards and two touchdowns.

Andrew Jones, an all-league honorable mention in 2010, is penciled in a running back while twin Andre Jones is earmarked as a tight end/fullback.
Linemen being counted on to buttress the offense include senior Mohammed Koacher and junior Gary Birtwell.

Lacsina had previously served as the team’s defensive coordinator, so it’s not surprising that the Mustangs have developed a strong defensive approach to the game. Otay Ranch expects to be balanced on both sides of the line of scrimmage this year as well.

Top defensive players include cornerbacks Andre Jones, defensive backs Andrew Jones and Martin, linebackers James Adams and Cunningham and safeties Jordan Peterson and Springsguth.

Lacsina stressed the passing tournament victory over Eastlake “means nothing” at this point of the season.

“It will come down to the regular season meeting,” the ORHS coach said.

The Mustangs will be playing for more than a league or CIF championship this season. The team will honor the memory of Springsguth’s mother Rebecca, who died in late June, with a decal on their helmets.

Otay Ranch Mustangs 2011 Schedule

2: Elsinore at Otay Ranch
9: Serra at Otay Ranch
16: Otay Ranch at Mission Bay, 3 p.m.
23: Ramona at Otay Ranch
30: Hoover at Otay Ranch
7: Otay Ranch at Castle Park
14: Otay Ranch vs. Bonita Vista at Southwestern College
21: Olympian at Otay Ranch
28: Bye
4: Otay Ranch at Chula Vista
10: Eastlake at Otay Ranch

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