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San Juan Hills football will depend on senior leadership for upcoming season 

San Juan Hills running back John Gaines (6) runs through the defense during a scrimmage against Pacifica HIgh School in San Juan Capistrano on Aug. 13, 2021. (Ryan Kuhn,

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO — San Juan Hills football coach Rob Frith looks up down his roster.

Their season starts in less than a week. 

He sees the names of his senior players such as Braden Pegan, Cole Monach, Chase Schmidt and John Gaines.

“I feel like we have a senior class that is doing a tremendous job,” Frith said. “They have leadership, cohesion and these guys set the tone.”

Above all else, the four have experience.

They played in the Stallions’ 2019 CIF Division 4 championship season defeating Loyola, 21-15.

Last year, Pegan and Monach combined for 46 receptions and 10 touchdown catches in just four games. Schmidt finished second on the team with 38 total tackles. 

Gaines was the only one watching because he was injured before the spring season. 

“I told them this is your team,” Frith said. “The program belongs to the school and the community but this is your team. I’m just here to help them, to guide them and help them make decisions.”

San Juan Hills has made a name for itself and its passing attack, airing the ball all over the Badlands. 

Over the last two seasons, quarterback Hudson Jones, who has since graduated and playing for Southeastern University, averaged 197 passing yards and three touchdowns per game. 

With Jones’ departure, Frith said junior Colton Joseph is listed as his No. 1 quarterback as of now with freshman Michael “Butter” Tollefson backing him up. 

Senior Luke Davis might also see some time either at quarterback or wide receiver. 

“I think all three could start at the quarterback position.” Frith said.

No matter who takes snaps next Friday against Santa Margarita, the receiving core is confident and ready after just playing four months ago. 

“I think the short offseason didn’t affected us at all,” Pegan said. “We have gotten everything that we need to get in practice-wise and I think we are ready to dominate this year.”

While the offense will feature some experience, the Stallions defense will be young.

Only Schmidt, senior linebacker Oliver Mettler, and senior defensive end Jaden Williams have played in all five games last season and have 10 or more tackles. 

But Schmidt is confident not only in his team but as himself as a leader. 

“We do a great job communicating as a whole,” Schmidt said. “Our defensive backs coach puts me in a role as the quarterback of the defense and its my responsibility to line everybody up. We have done such a good job on being on the same page.”

San Juan Hills looks to bounce back after finishing 0-3 against San Clemente, Mission Viejo and Tesoro in the South Coast League, but doesn’t shy away from competition as it opens up its season against Santa Margarita on Aug. 20 at Saddleback College and also scheduled Corona Del Mar,  Yorba Linda and Cypress. 

“I think we are going to be right there neck-and-neck with (these teams in the South Coast League),” Pegan said. “I think we can go 3-0.” 

The Stallions start South Coast League play on Oct. 15.

San Juan Hills football schedule

Aug. 20 vs. Santa Margarita at Saddleback College

Augt. 27 vs. Cypress

Sept. 3 vs. Roosevelt

Sept. 10 vs. Yorba Linda

Sept. 17 vs. Corona del Mar

Oct. 1 at El Toro

Oct. 8 vs. Capo Valley

Oct. 15 at San Clemente

Oct. 22 vs. Mission Viejo

Oct. 29 at Tesoro (Battle of the Bell)

Ryan was born and raised in Dana Point went to Dana Hills High School. He graduated from Sacramento State University with a BA in Journalism. Throughout his career as a sports journalist, he has covered high schools, colleges, and professional teams. After working for multiple newspapers in as many states, he came to the conclusion that what he really wanted was to make sure the high schools in his hometown area got the sports coverage they deserved. Follow him on Twitter @rskuhn

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