With a 4-2 record so far in the football season, the casual observer might think that the Pirates are having a solid season. The Pirates are a top five team in the county and in my opinion a top five team, as of now. I’ve seen lots of complaints and concern from Oceanside Fans/Supporters on social media about new coach David Rodriguez.
Long time coach John Carroll retired after last season after a run that saw the Pirates win a CIF title 13 times since 1995. They won state titles in 2007 and 2009, before losing to Nor-Cal power Folsom HS in the state title last season. David Rodriguez, a former assistant under Carroll, was hired as the Pirates head man after coaching in Arizona for the last few years. The Pirates have struggled mightily against their best two opponents this season, Mission Hills and Eastside Catholic (WA.), being outscored by a total of 94-13, but I don’t think that speaks to the coaching ability of Rodriguez.
I understand the frustration of having a “down” season, relative to usual expectations but that isn’t entirely fair. The “cupboard” is as empty as it’s been at Oceanside in a long time. There are big questions at quarterback following the steadiness of Paopao and Romero in recent years. They’ve had offensive weapons that not many teams in San Diego could even dream about. Talent like Mikah Holder, Thai Cottrell, and Josh Bernard have moved to the college ranks. The offensive line is the strongest part of the team, and sophomore right tackle Donovan Laie may end up as one of the best football players in school history, but they’re still a young group. Their top receiving threat Isaia Paopao, was poised for a huge senior season, before tearing his ACL in the offseason.
Against the Grizzlies, Niko Mageo was the offense. He’s a very talented running back, but without a reliable passing game that can keep the defense off balance it allows them to stuff the box and prepare for the running game.
On defense, major improvement needs to be done. Against Mission Hills, they were simply blown off the line of scrimmage on nearly every play. The good news is that there were several (non-seniors) on offense and defense that played against Mission Hills. The stars of recent memory on the Pirates defense have all moved on to the collegiate level. Jace Whittaker, Alijah Holder, and Jordan Miller are all seeing playing time in the Pac-12 as freshman, while energetic linebacker Tommy Woo has moved on to Palomar College.
When it comes to Oceanside, it’s about experience and improvement rather than coaching.