Team: Ponderosa High
League: Delta River League — Oak Ridge, Folsom, Jesuit, Pleasant Grove, Sheldon
2011 record: 2-8
Head Coach: Jason Tenner
Assistant coaches: Brad Lawson (defensive line, offensive line); Rob Ralph (offensive line), Dwayne Brekke (wide receivers), Danny Basham (linebackers, running backs), Allen McCoy (defensive line), Xavier Williams (defensive backs)
Key dates: Aug. 31 season opener against Valley; Sept. 28 Homecoming against Rio Linda; Sept. 14 hosting Union Mine; Oct. 6 Delta River League opener at Jesuit; Oct. 19 at Oak Ridge; Oct. 26 hosting Folsom
SHINGLE SPRINGS — Ponderosa’s foray last year into Division I started with a promise after its season-opening win at Elk Grove before the wheels came off under the weight of the Delta River League schedule, arguably the section’s strongest.
While not much will change, the Bruins know for certain what to expect. Ponderosa got off to a good start in whipping Valley to open the season and followed up by lancing Cordova 45-8. The Bruins stand an excellent chance of going 3-0 with a win Friday against struggling Union Mine.
Ponderosa returns most of its defensive unit and the experience has shown so far as opponents have scored just one in two games. Offensively the Bruins will show multiple looks.
Offense: Under the guidance of second-year starting quarterback Jacob Bist, the Bruins can rely on more balance in its offensive schemes: via the pass, quickness out of the back field or power from their fullbacks.
Bist has more of a free rein this time around as Tenner feels the senior has grasp of the position and the leadership skills needed to have a productive season. One of his main targets is younger brother Josh Bist in addition to several slot/fly type receivers Christian Canepa, Matt McBride and Austin Tibbs. Tight end Ralph Raetz has soft hands according to Tenner and can block.
Out of the backfield is Brett Jonutz, the team’s fastest and strongest back who will be complimented by Jeff Martin, Nevada transfer Jake McClellend and at times Jeff Camilli.
Moving left to right on the offensive line is tackle Logan Murray, the by-committee of Aaron Jestice, Kyle Marshall and Eddie Fontaine at left guard, center Wyatt Ingles, right tackle Henry Sharoyan and guard Zach Brenner.
“We’ll be very balanced. We can stretch the field but we’ll have quick-hitters and bruisers,” Tenner said. “We haven’t had this type of balance in being able to spread the ball and pound it too.”
Defense: With nine returning starters, Tenner sees an active, athletic defense with Camilli, a highly recruited talent as the centerpiece. Joining him as returners are linebacker Darren Brundage, strong safety martin, Defensive backs Alex Roberds, Canepa and Andrew Olson, linemen Curtis Catron, Matt Poulin, Marshall and Jestice.
“I think we’ll be very successful and surprise some people — not us — but outside the program,” Tenner said.
Special teams: Bist will handle the punting choirs and borrowed from the soccer squad is Curtis Goldsmith.
Outlook: The Bruin team goals are to compete for a league championship and go to the playoffs. Tenner realizes the Delta River League is “a meat grinder” but nevertheless told his team to expect to play in week No. 11.
“Our league has the best football teams in the area … they’re all combined in one league,” Tenner said. “Our preseason will be different in that we want to have confidence going in (to league). Our group of seniors are battle-tested and ready to exceed expectations.”
A solid preseason filled with victories and competitive league play that includes wins will go a long ways in the program’s turnaround.