Smith another agent of change

Transfer back shines in Costa Mesa scrimmage that features new coach Grant at the helm.

June 11, 2011|By Steve Virgen,
  • Mario Smith runs the ball during the 7 on 7 Green and White scrimmage at Costa Mesa High on Friday.
Mario Smith runs the ball during the 7 on 7 Green and White… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

COSTA MESA — Costa Mesa High's Green and White Game was supposed to be about a new football coach in charge. Instead, the buzz was mostly about running back Mario Smith.

Maybe he could be known as "Super Mario," because the skills he showed Friday were like something out of a video game. With explosive speed and deft moves, he's on pace to be the team's featured back and the type of addition that can take the offense to another level.

Smith, who will be a senior in the fall, is a transfer from Silverado of Victorville. His younger brother, Justin, is also on the team and will be a junior. Justin is nursing an ankle injury and did not play.

They moved because their mother, Keisha Brown, relocated to work in Costa Mesa. It's safe to say the Mustangs are grateful for that move.

Mario has been clocked at 4.42 seconds in the 40-yard dash, he said. He showed great speed throughout and impressed the parents and students on hand for the game that was a non-contact, seven-on-seven scrimmage in which players wore no football gear.


"I feel like we're going to do great things this year," Smith said. "We're going to be unstoppable."

Smith and his teammates are doing their best to transition, as their program is under the direction of Wally Grant, who took over after Jeremy Osso was fired June 1. The Mustangs say they want to move on.

Smith is looking forward to the season with great anticipation. He said he's aware of the rivalry with Estancia and knows the Eagles have a standout running back returning in Robert Murtha, a junior-to-be who was named the Orange Coast League Offensive Player of the Year after he rushed for a school single-season record of 1,679 yards.

"I feel like I'm coming," Smith said about Murtha. "I'm going to show him something."

The Mustangs did their best to put on a good show during their scrimmage. They showed plenty of energy and they were physical. Fernando Caicedo, who will be a senior, left with a broken nose.

Grant's background comes from defense, as he was the defensive coordinator for the Mustangs last season and worked with Myron Miller at Mesa (1992-94) and at Tustin (1995-2005). But much of Friday's event was about offense, with quarterback Nathan Alvis leading the way.

Alvis is also excited about Smith, plus he has the benefit of working with three returning receivers in Jordan Walden, Trace Curet and Jake Comer. Few passes were dropped by the trio, as they displayed chemistry with Alvis.

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