By KERRY BENEFIELD
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
As with all new seasons and new beginnings, there is a mix of good news/bad news for the Windsor Jaguars football squad this year.
The bad news is the Jaguars lost seven all-league performers from last year’s squad that went 8-4 overall and 4-3 in the super competitive North Bay League. The good news is that they also return seven all-leaguers.
Leading that list are seniors Mitchell Bruning and Alex Tancreto.
Bruning, an all-NBL first team selection as both a wide receiver and outside linebacker, will no longer be catching passes from Jalen Roman, the quarterback who graduated last year. This season, the 6-foot, 205-pounds Bruning will be on the end of passes from Max Brown, who played linebacker last season.
“Max is a great quarterback,” Bruning said, adding that he and Brown have been friends and playing ball together since they were 6.
“I think Max has improved a lot since summer,” he said. “He’s a strong quarterback.”
In his new role behind center, Brown has been relieved of his defensive duties this season.
“He’s another tough kid,” head coach Tom Kirkpatrick said of the lefty Brown. “He’s not thrilled about it but I’m not having him play any defense.”
A guy who is playing defense for the Jags is Tancreto, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound lineman who earned first team all-league honors on both sides of the ball last season.
“They call him Tank,” Kirkpatrick said, adding that the senior has “a high motor running all the time.”
Tancreto and Bruning are two of six Jaguars seniors who have been varsity starters since their sophomore seasons. They clearly see this as their time.
“We are finally ready for our senior year so I hope we are peaking this year,” Tancreto said. “We have good chemistry. I think we will have a really good season.”
The offensive line is not huge, but Kirkpatrick said they are loaded with athleticism.
“Our biggest guy is only 235 so we won’t be behemoths, but we will be able to pull, do a lot of trapping, a lot of movement,” he said.
Kirkpatrick, who spent nearly 20 seasons as head football coach at Healdsburg High School before retiring for the second time in 2011, was tapped to lead the Jaguars after former coach Vic Amick was not rehired at the conclusion of last season.
Kirkpatrick said he’s been impressed with the caliber of athletes on the roster. He also noted the players’ commitment to work and improvement, citing 30 player deep attendance at 5:30 a.m. weight lifting sessions back in February.
“They are very, very motivated,” he said. “That goes to coach Vic. I didn’t bring that, they had it. Credit goes to the coaches from last year. As any new coach comes in, you try to get guys to buy into what you are doing, but as far as their work ethic and character, these guys have been wonderful.”
The Jaguars could pose a significant challenge to presumptive league leaders Rancho Cotate and Cardinal Newman.
“Anybody on our schedule, I think we can be competitive with if we play well,” Kirkpatrick said.
You can reach staff columnist Kerry Benefield at 526-8671 or email@example.com, on Twitter @benefield and on Instagram at kerry.benefield.
Coach: Tom Kirkpatrick (first year)
2014 record: 8-4; 4-3 in NBL
JV record: 2-7; 2-4 in NBL (note: game against Ukiah canceled)
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Mitchell Bruning, SR., TE, LB: First team all-league outside linebacker and first time wide receiver, Bruning will be a key component to the Jaguars’ success. “He will be a two-way player for us,” Kirkpatrick said. “He’s got really good hands.”
Alex Tancreto, SR., OL, DL: Like Bruning, Tancreto was a first team all-selection on both offense and defense last year. Kirkpatrick said he can’t wait to see him play live. “They call him ‘Tank,’” Kirkpatrick said. “Watching him on film, when that whistle blows he just becomes super competitive.”
Sam Fletcher, SR., OL: A second team all-league pick, Fletcher could play some downs at tight end, but Kirkpatrick will likely keep him focused on special teams and defense, where he excels.
Anthony Rea, SR., DB: A first team all-league pick his junior year, Rea will roam as free safety for the Jaguars.
Lucas Campos, SR., DB: An all-league second team selection as a junior, has proven himself a “tough, hard-nose type kid,” according to Kirkpatrick.
Evan Legaspi, SR., DB: An all-league second team defensive back last season, Kirkpatrick says he’ll be relied on this season.
GAME NOT TO MISS
The contests with league favorites Rancho Cotate and Cardinal Newman will likely be fun football to watch, but the Oct. 16 game at Santa Rosa will pit former Jaguars’ head coach and current Panthers’ assistant coach Vic Amick against his former squad.
The 2011 perfect season in which the Jaguars went 15-0 while winning the SCL and NCS Div. 2 title.
Aug. 28 at Petaluma 7:30
Sept. 9 Northgate 7:30
Sept. 11 Miramonte 7:30
Sept. 25 at Ukiah 7:30
Oct. 2 Casa Grande* 7:30
Oct. 9 Montgomery 7:30
Oct. 16 Santa Rosa 7:30
Oct. 23 at Rancho Cotate 7:30
Oct. 30 at Maria Carrillo 7:30
Nov. 6 Cardinal Newman 7:30
*at Petaluma High School