Fifth-year Torrey Pines Head Football Coach Ron Gladnick has never been accused of looking for patsies to fill his non-league schedule. And despite the fact that the San Diego section will be starting its season one week earlier this year, 2018 will be no exception to that strategy. The Falcons go on the road in week one, facing 2017 CIF Division I runner-up Eastlake Friday night and then return home a week later to entertain Orange County power San Clemente, a squad that has gone 45-10 over the last four years. One simply needs to look what comes after that to understand the method behind Gladnick’s madness.
“Our philosophy, as far as our early season schedule, is that we’ve got to get ready for our Avocado West League games and you can’t do that against lesser opponents,” said Gladnick, whose team had a misleading 7-5 mark last season but reached the semi-finals of the CIF Open Division playoffs. “The Avocado West is like six playoff games—that’s how I would handicap it.
“You can’t have a bad Friday night in our league and expect to win a game. This helps us get prepared for that.”
Falcon foes can anticipate seeing more of the same from Gladnick’s charges this fall. On offense, that means ball control in the form of running the Wing T. He’ll have seven starters back on offense from a group that ground out over 3,000 yards rushing a year ago. Torrey will have a couple of pile drivers up front with Cal-commit Brian Driscoll (6-5, 290) and Mohab Wahden (6-4, 305) manning the tackles.
Five-foot-11 senior quarterback Jason Heine, who accounted for 553 yds. rushing and 1,058 yds. passing is back at the controls. He’ll again be handing off to senior fullback Mac Bingham who bulldozed opponents for 1,238 yds. (6.77 per carry) and a team best 17 touchdowns as a junior. Bingham heads a deep RB contingent.
“We have a lot of players who have seen playing time and will be stepping into starting roles with experience,” says Gladnick. “We’ll rotate half a dozen or so backs in every game. If we stay healthy, we’re capable of getting 4,000 yds. this season.”
The Falcons only threw nine times a game last year but that doesn’t mean anyone can sleep on the air game. “We throw it to kill you,” explained Gladnick, tabbing elusive senior wideout Luke Miko-Lajewski as one to watch in the receiving corps. “Teams pack the box to stop the running game and we’ll try to take advantage of that.”
On defense, the cardinal and gold lose All-CIF standouts Louie Bickett and Michael Perrone but have some solid cornerstones returning. Junior Grant Anderson (6-2, 225), who doubles as a running back, started every game as a sophomore at inside linebacker and “has looked fantastic” in early workouts. The Falcons’ four-man front features senior Payson Campisano (6-4, 260) at one of the tackle slots.
“We have a couple of younger linebackers who need to come up to speed quickly, but I feel confident that our defense will get to where it needs to be,” said Gladnick. Torrey got a taste of live action last Friday night, outscoring host Rancho Bernardo, 21-7, in a scrimmage. There were some good takeaways for the coaching staff.
“We obviously saw a lot of places where we can improve but I felt good and thought we played pretty well overall,” observed Gladnick. “We looked physical and played with a high level of enthusiasm and intensity.
“This is a good work ethic team, which is what we need to be. It’s a senior heavy group and that leadership will be important to our success.”
Here’s a look at the 2018 Torrey Pines schedule:
August 17 – at Eastlake
August 24 – vs. San Clemente
August 31 – at Olympian
September 7 – vs. San Pasqual
September 14 – vs. El Camino*
September 21 – at Carlsbad*
October 5 – vs. Mission Hills*
October 12 – vs. San Marcos*
October 19 – at Oceanside*
October 26 – at La Costa Canyon*
*Avocado West League games
All start times 7 p.m. except San Pasqual and El Camino which are 7:15 p.m.