High School Sports

A spring of opportunity awaits St. Stanislaus football

The St. Stanislaus College football team huddles up with new football coach Jeff Jordan during the first day of spring practice on Monday, May 1, 2017.
The St. Stanislaus College football team huddles up with new football coach Jeff Jordan during the first day of spring practice on Monday, May 1, 2017. amccoy@sunherald.com

St. Stanislaus isn’t quite at the point where everyone needs to wear those “Hello: My Name Is” stickers — but the Rockachaws aren’t too far off.

A new era of Rockachaw football unofficially began Monday when the Class 4A school opened spring football under new coach Jeff Jordan. The former SSC assistant replaces longtime friend Bill Conides, who’s now at Denham Springs, Louisiana.

The program must also replace five college signees — quarterback Myles Brennan (LSU), tight ends Chase Rogers (Louisiana-Lafayette) and Darius Pittman (Purdue), receiver Corbin Blanchard (Air Force) and lineman Mark Cook (Pearl River Community College).

Jordan, in turn, has promised his players a spring of opportunity. Prove you belong and you’ll get your chance to shine.

“The attrition factor we have to take care of,” he said before Monday’s practice. “We lost some great football players, too many to name. Spring this year will primarily determine who wants to play, who is going to take those spots.

“We had a meeting this morning and proclaimed that whenever one door closes another one opens, so there’s going to be a lot of opportunity to fill in and we need people to step up and take over some vacated spots.”

Experienced defense

The good news for SSC is the Rockachaws return the bulk of their defensive playmakers, including their top four tacklers from this season in Leo Roos (129), J.D. Rutherford (104), Lewie Negrotto (97) and Joe Reeder (97). SSC will need to find replacements for impact starters Ricky Schaefer, Gage Prudhomme and Brendan Logan, but it’s not a stretch to think the defense could be the Rockachaws’ strength in 2017.

“I definitely think it’s the defense’s turn,” Rutherford said. “We’ve kind of been in the shadow of the offense, but I feel like we’re going to be able to take care of it.”

New-look offense

Understandably, the offense will undergo a bit of a facelift heading into 2017.

“Offensively we’ll have an entirely different profile,” Jordan said. “We’re going to look different, obviously from a personnel perspective but schematically we’re going to have a different profile as well. It’s going to be an important spring offensively because we have to implement the system in its entirety.”

Jordan expects SSC will run the ball quite a bit more — which is understandable when a Class 4A program graduates an SEC-caliber quarterback and three Division I receivers in the same class. For more than a decade, SSC has built its offense around playing wide-open, pass-heavy football. That’s likely to change.

Even with the transition, Jordan said he’s not worried about blowback from a fan base that has become accustomed to the long ball.

“There’s pressure to win and that’s about it,” he said. “Any coach worth his salt is going to put pressure on himself to win.

“This school is tradition rich. Bill and Gabe Fertitta set high standards and we’re going to be expected to live up to that standard. We put more pressure on ourselves as coaches and players than anyone from within the Stanislaus family or community could put on us.”

Leading the new-look offense will be rising senior Jakob Greer. Utilized as a safety and linebacker in the past, Greer has been tasked to step under center.

“Jake Greer is the No. 1 guy going into spring. Jake has a really live arm and can run the football,” Jordan said. “He understands football and is a returning starter — just not as quarterback. We’re not going to ask him to do as much as we asked Myles to do from a throwing perspective, but we are going to ask him to run the ball a lot more than Myles did with some zone reads and things that will suit his talents.”

The Jeff Jordan Era officially gets going Aug. 18 with a new-look Shrimp Bowl showdown at Biloxi.

Patrick Ochs: 228-896-2321, @PatrickOchs