It’s early, only mid-July, but the excitement is beginning to brew—especially in Murrieta, as summer football practice gets underway in the Valley.
This year, for the first time, Murrieta has all three of its local high school teams ranked in the top 20 in one of the toughest and most competitive divisions in Southern California, the Inland Division.
Coach Coley Candaele’s Broncos are ranked No. 1 in the division and are looking to defend their top spot by once again repeating as CIF Champions.
The Broncos have an extremely explosive offense that seemed to easily steamroll past its opponents last season. Senior quarterback Nick Stevens returns and has weapons like running back Su’a Cravens and wide receiver Randy Beggs to consistently move the chains all game long. The O-Line is solid and Vista’s roster is filled with talented reserves at all skill positions just waiting for the opportunity to prove themselves.
Vista Murrieta developed a punishing defense last year that dominated even top-ranked teams like Riverside North and the Highlanders from Upland in the CIF playoffs. The Bronco D was instrumental in their amazing come-from-behind victory over favored Corona Centennial in the CIF Championship Game.
The Nighthawks from are ranked eighth in the division this season. Last year, MVHS was shunned by Southland football critics, being passed off as inexperienced, slow and small. They were expected to win three or four games.
Coach Greg Ireland obviously ignored the pundits and led his overachieving Nighthawks to a 7-3 record and into the CIF Playoffs once again. This year, Ireland has a nucleus of 15 returning starters on both sides of the ball.
Senior quarterback Andrew Blake now has a older, improved offensive line that can open holes for running back Jacob Augustine and give him time to find wide receiver Brandon Iacobellis more often.
Last year the MVHS defense was incredible. It looks to be even better this year. Safety Terin Solomon anchors the defense. Returning senior linemen Michael Payne and Jordan Silva bring toughness and experience to the Nighthawk defense who return with 8 starters.
In only its fourth Varsity season, has developed into a team to be respected and feared within the division. Coach Justin Schaeffer has taken his licks as his program matured and looks to be ready to take his Rams into the post season this year. With 16 returning starters, Coach Schaeffer now has the luxury of experienced, talented players and has worked relentlessly improving his team.
The Rams are led by senior quarterback Chase Chambers who has two of his talented pass catchers returning this season. Wide receivers Daniel Castro and Khalil Sharpe are dangerous weapons that can change the pace and outcome of the game in a "Murrieta Minute."
The offensive line is one of the Rams' hidden strengths, giving their quarterback time and protection to execute Coach Schaeffer’s pass-oriented playbook.
Murrieta Mesa will need to improve its defense. Senior defensive end Jess Ayala and linebacker Dallin Inman are key parts of the core for the Rams to build upon.
1. Vista Murrieta
2. Rancho Cucamonga
5. Redlands East Valley
6. Charter Oak
8. Murrieta Valley
10. Chino Hills
15. Great Oak
17. Los Osos
20. Murrieta Mesa
22. South Hills
24. Temecula Valley
Vista Murrieta will be hosting Thunder Ridge High School from Colorado on Aug. 31. The Nighthawks start their season at home playing Temescal Canyon Aug. 24. Murrieta Mesa finds itself playing its first three games away. The Rams' first home game will be against Citrus Valley High School from Redlands on Sept. 14.
Congratulations to coaches Candaele, Ireland, Schaeffer and their staff for developing successful programs that not only create good football teams, but great kids. Looks like a great year for high school football in Murrieta. Come out and support your team.