Coming off a 12-2 season that California opened last year with a 42-7 win at Boonville and ended with a state semifinal loss to eventual state champion Maryville, the Pintos should be feeling pretty confident as they embark on the 2014 football season.
"It was a great year," California head coach Marty Albertson said looking back at last season. Despite losing 13 seniors, "We've got a great group of seniors this season who are returning with a lot of experience."
Another plus for the Pintos is the brand new football field they will be playing on, located next to the high school.
"This is an exciting time for Pinto football with the new stadium," Albertson said.
The Pintos, currently ranked No. 4 in Class 3, will play their first official game on the new turf Friday as California will host Boonville at 8 p.m.
"I've been pretty pleased with our practices," Albertson said.
Regarding the Jamboree Aug. 15, where California scrimmaged Owensville and Moberly, Albertson said, "I think we played okay. We made a few mistakes, missed a few blocks, but all-in-all we played pretty well. We don't have a lot of depth, so our kids are going to have to be in shape, especially since some of them play both sides, but overall, I feel pretty good about where we are."
Albertson said conditioning is crucial. "Hopefully everyone stays healthy."
Key players on offense this season will be: senior quarterback Jaden Barr; senior running back Walker Borghardt; senior linebacker Nathan Squires; senior tight end Zach Cummings; senior wide receiver Drew Norton; junior wide receiver Landon Mouse; junior running back A.J. Kendrick; senior running back Allan Burger; and senior tight end Ramiro Garcia.
New faces in the offensive line include seniors Garrett Imhoff, Matt Oerly and Gavin Pickering.
"Matt's coming off of an injury and Garrett Imhoff and Gavin Pickering were backups last year and played JV," Albertson said. "This is their senior year, so hopefully they're going to have a good year."
Albertson went on to say, "In the backfield, we've got senior three-year starter Jaden Barr at quarterback. Seniors Walker Borghardt and Allan Burger, and junior A.J. Kendrick are our top three running backs. They're doing real well. Our outside receivers are seniors Drew Norton and Alex Dalbey, and junior Landon Mouse, who will also be our backup quarterback."
Key players on defense will be: Barr at defensive back; Borghard at defensive back; Squires at guard; Cummings at defensive end; Norton at defensive back; Mouse at defensive back; junior Brandan Gump at linebacker; Kendrick at linebacker; Burger at linebacker; and Garcia at defensive end.
"Senior Kade McAdams, who just started playing last year, is going to help us down the road," Albertson said. "He's a defensive tight end who will give Ramiro a rest.
Replacing all-state kicker Aaron Cuevas, who moved during the 2013-14 school year, will be Garcia, while Barr will be doing the punting.
"Sophomore Jose Magano, who will be kicking for the JV and freshman games for now, will most likely take over the kicking down the road," Albertson said. "He's got potential."
Other than a couple of minor injuries, Albertson said the Pintos have been and are currently healthy, ready to go, and anxious to play their first official game of the 2014 season.