O.C. All-Star Game: South notebook (7-1-15)
With Thursday and Friday serving as off days because of the upcoming holiday weekend, the South squad suited up in helmet and pads Wednesday morning at Capistrano Valley High for its first full-contact practice in preparation for Orange County All-Star game on July 9 at Orange Coast College.
Edison High’s Manese Time welcomed the contact, laying the lumber on multiple open-field ball carriers, setting the tone for a physical morning session.
“You could see that competitive nature more so today because we started hitting a little bit,” South coach Ernie Bucher (Capistrano Valley) said. “They got excited with that. I think that competitiveness is still kind of materializing, but when we go full contact, it definitely ramps up.”
Time’s physicality made him a can’t miss on the defensive side of the ball, while Santa Margarita receiver Conner Bianchini made a handful of plays in 11-on-11 team drills. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound wideout caught a 40-yard touchdown pass from Northwood’s Brian Abel, and was the focal point of redzone drills toward the end of practice.
“He’s the real deal,” Bucher said of the physically imposing Bianchini.
Abel and Capistrano Valley’s Gavin Pruett split snaps at quarterback on Wednesday. The Cougars signal caller looked natural running the South’s offense, having passed for 3,000 yards and 26 touchdowns in the spread-based scheme last fall.
“It’s just trying to get these guys all on the same page,” Bucher explained. “We’ve simplified the verbiage. What will be a challenge for us, is creating the tempo that we like to run at. I bet coach (Mike) Enright is going to have some of those same issues just because I don’t think everybody is quite in the same shape as they were.”
In addition to Pruett, Capistrano Valley has three more players suiting up on defense in Billy Biehn, Trevor Wise and Jimmy Grasso. Much like Pruett can on the offensive side of the ball, the Cougars defensive trio has proven plenty capable of verbalizing coverage packages and schemes for their new teammates.
"That’s the reason why we took those four guys, to help us install it all,” Bucher said.
The South will return to practice on Monday evening at Capo Valley for another full-contact session. Tuesday’s practice will feature helmets and shoulder pads, while Wednesday will serve as a walkthrough for Thursday night’s game.