Football preview: Surge of energy at El Molino

BY ALLIE COLOSKY
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Lonnie Gaspar fights through a tackle at El Molino preseason practice. (Beth Schlanker / The Press Democrat)

Lonnie Gaspar fights through a tackle at El Molino preseason practice. (Beth Schlanker / The Press Democrat)

With a core group of returning players and coaching, the players on the El Molino football team are practicing what they preach: commitment.

“The guys have already put in a great effort so I expect them to continue putting in that same effort,” head coach Randy Parmeter said. “I know they will. They will work very, very hard to be successful.”

The Lions are coming off a 2-8 record in 2013 and with a core group of upcoming juniors. The goals have been set much higher than the sixth-place finish they managed last season in the final Sonoma County League standings.

“We’ve got a good group of juniors that is coming up that has been successful as freshmen and sophomores,” Parmeter said. “We should be able to field a team that is much larger than last year.”

El Molino’s increased participation should translate into a more energetic and successful team, senior quarterback Steve Mori said.

“I’m expecting a lot out of our team this year,” Parmeter said. “I know that El Molino has small numbers every single year, but with more players this year, we will have a lot more energy.”

Mori is beginning his second year as the starting quarterback and the experience has been good for him, Parmeter said, and he will do well leading the younger squad.

“We’re excited about Steve coming back,” Parmeter said. “He’s comfortable and he knows what to expect.”

Mori said he is focused on improving his own individual stats, which includes interceptions, rushing yards, and completed passed, but knows that the team chemistry and dedication to each other is the more important piece of the puzzle.

“Commitment is our biggest expectation this year,” he said. “We can’t let each other down. We don’t have that many players, so that’s what we need to focus on. We need to trust each other.”

Lonnie Gaspar is also returning to help lead the Lions offensively. A standout at wide receiver in 2013, he is joined by two running backs who Parmeter said he was very optimistic about.

“If we can get our line dialed in, I feel we will be very successful,” he said.

Josh Wright and Edwin Taylor are the two added running backs to keep an eye out for, Parmeter said. With Wright rushing more than 1,000 yards as a sophomore and Taylor’s athleticism, the offense will have a new spark.

“We want to win half our games this year and that’s what we are working on right now,” Mori said. “We don’t come out and start smashing each other right away,” he explained. “We don’t want to hurt anybody, but we have been more focused on the mental conditioning.”

On the defensive line, hard work is the name of the game.

“We have a bunch of guys who just get it done,” said Parmeter, who remains optimistic for the Lions’ season and said he is very intrigued about what lies ahead.

“Spirits are up and the kids are working hard,” he said. “I’m really curious about what level they are going to get to.”

EL MOLINO LIONS

Coach: Randy Parmeter (2nd year)

2013 Record: 2-8 overall, 1-5 SCL (6th place)

2013 JV Record: 3-3 overall, 2-1

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Steve Mori, QB — Returning as the starting quarterback, Mori is more comfortable in the playmaker position, hoping to boost a few individual stats.

Lonnie Gaspar WR — Wide receiver to enhance the offense with his experience

Josh Wright, RB — Rushed for 1,000 yards on the junior varsity team in 2013.

Edwin Taylor RB — After missing out last year, Coach Parmeter is excited for the return of a “great athlete,” he said.

GAME NOT TO MISS

The Lions open their season on Aug. 29 at Willits for their nonconference opener. El Molino won last season’s contest 25-0. Their second win in 2013 came in a 20-10 rout of Elsie Allen, and the rematch is set for Oct. 10.

ALL-TIME HIGHLIGHT

The 1994 Lions team finished 7-3 and earned a North Coast Section playoff spot before losing to Cardinal Newman in a classic.

SCHEDULE

Aug. 29, at Willits, 7 p.m.

Sept. 5, Lower Lake, 5 p.m.

Sept. 12, at Fort Bragg, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 19, Middletown, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 26, at Healdsburg, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 3, Bye

Oct. 10, Elsie Allen, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 17, at Petaluma, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 24, Analy, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 31, Sonoma Valley, 7:30 p.m.

Nov. 7, Piner, 7:30 p.m.