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Quality trumps quantity for Mesa

Costa Mesa Football Position By Position

Emphasis on commitment has pared roster numbers for Mustangs, as two-way starters abound.

August 31, 2011|By Barry Faulkner, barry.faulkner@latimes.com
(Don Leach / Daily…)

When Wally Grant was named interim coach for the 2011 Costa Mesa High football season, he introduced his players to three rules.

There is the time-honored Golden Rule. Then, there is majority rule (if the majority of the program is expected to do something, everyone else must comply in a timely fashion). The third rule is: everyone must protect the team.

The result of the first three rules, mostly the majority rule that centers around commitment to practice and weight training, soon led to a dwindling roster … and the formation of a fourth rule.

"No one gets hurt," Grant said of the latest dictum, which is necessitated by an available talent pool that might include as few as a couple dozen uniformed bodies on game nights.

"Pretty soon, kids understood I expected a whole different level of commitment to the program," said Grant, who has pared his initial turnout from 60 players to, at last count, 36, including the varsity and junior varsity rosters. "It was a slow attrition that began in November with all the lifting that we did. We're going to suit up the kids who come every week and do what they're supposed to do."

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The limited numbers further simplify Grant's desire to play many players on offense and defense.

Here's a position-by-position look at the Mustangs:

Quarterback: Senior Nathan Alvis returns after throwing for 1,567 yards and 12 touchdowns and rushing for 508 yards and 11 TDs in a spread offense that saw him almost exclusively in the shotgun. The left-handed slinger will move under center in Grant's smashmouth run-oriented scheme, that will most often feature a pro-set.

But Grant said Alvis' throwing ability will dictate a more pass-friendly game plan than the double-wing attack Grant learned under former Costa Mesa and current Tustin High Coach Myron Miller.

"He's embraced [the change]," Grant said. "It wasn't what he wanted, but he has seen what we do and that we were highly successful in summer passing league by running our stuff. He has a Division-I arm. And though he is only 6-foot tall, it's my job to make sure he has some film we can show that makes him attractive to college coaches."

Junior Curt Williams is the backup.

Running backs: Senior Mario Smith, a transfer from Silverado High in Victorville, figures to be the featured ballcarrier. He has run the 40-yard dash in 4.42 seconds and Grant has been impressed by his potential as a game-breaker.

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