Their season was supposed to start last week. Instead, the Monterey Trail Mustangs are crossing their fingers just to resume workouts next week after a hiatus that has been over a month long was extended this week when the Elk Grove Unified School District notified schools that all in-person activities would remain paused until Jan. 19.
Their season may be on hold but the Mustangs are going far from unnoticed in the meantime.
Scorebook Live recently ranked Monterey Trail football 20th among top teams in the state.
Mustang head coach T.J. Ewing said that the ranking is appreciated given the status of some of the other schools.
“I’m pretty proud of that because we’re a public school. I’m proud of that ranking,” Ewing said.
The ranking was part of SBLive’s preview of the 2021 football season.
The upcoming season has seen its share of delays along with other sports due to the COVID-19 pandemic. What would have been an August start date for fall sports was pushed back to early January for football and last month was pushed back again to late January at the earliest based on guidelines from the state.
In the midst of it all, players from teams such as Mustang football are working out on their own and waiting for the chance to play.
“We haven’t practiced for four weeks. My thing is keeping the kids in (good) physical condition. It’s very important to keep them active, you don’t need a ball, just need to get some exercise so if we do have a season, we’re ready for it,” Ewing said on Jan. 8.
The Mustangs have a host of key returning players this season including Chris Lands, Prophet Brown, Jamauri Jackson and Nekhi Broadway.
While all of those athletes are seniors, Ewing noted that the entire team is experienced having had youth football or prior experience on the varsity team.
“All of our kids are experienced because a lot of our players played in past programs. We end up getting some pretty good players. Frank (Arcuri) probably could have started last year. We had Viktor [Timonin], it’s hard to beat a senior in terms of age and Viktor did such a great job,” Ewing said.
After ticking off a list of players on this year’s roster, Ewing recognized the talent on this year’s squad.
“We’re just blessed. Our JV team’s going to be good again. We’re just trying to provide a safe place to play. That’s why we’re adamant about playing cause this group is a neat group of guys. This senior group is highly academic. You can see as the practice goes along,” Ewing said.
The past year has been an adjustment for everyone and Ewing said the program is learning and adapting as far as what it can do under pandemic restrictions.
“Our players didn’t want to shut down, they wanted to keep going. I love to give the kids opportunities, but I understand there’s rules,” Ewing said.
In looking to give his athletes the best season possible, Ewing said that he’s made multiple changes to see that they flourish as much as possible whenever the season starts.
“So I think that, just as with the restaurants you have to adapt, if you don’t adapt, you don’t succeed. I know it’s going to be expensive, I know it’s going to cost money. I knew we had to change things. We were going out and getting more equipment, that’s what everybody has to do,” Ewing said in regards to buying the appropriate equipment to work out safely.
The next time they are able play a game, the Mustangs will be there to do what they need as they stampede into the new season.
“It’s a very veteran team, the kids know the system very well. The kids know the plays. Getting in shape is the biggest problem right now. What I care about is the health of our kids,” Ewing said.
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