While it might not be reflected in the standings, last week was a winning one in Mira Costa High School head coach Don Morrow’s opinion.
The Mustangs football teams, including varsity (1-2), were off and had the luxury of licking their wounds following a 33-0 loss to Serra High School (2-1) by the varsity squad.
Mira Costa will return to Waller Stadium on Friday in hopes of evening its record and making up for last season’s 29-10 defeat at Chaminade High School (2-1).
Hermosa Beach Patch caught up with coach Morrow to discuss his team’s progress during the non-league portion of the season.
Hermosa Beach Patch: Serra has been a perennial powerhouse. How do you assess your team’s performance?
Don Morrow: We got whooped in all phases of the game, including the coaching and strategy part of it. I give them a lot of credit.
I think [Serra] was still frustrated from their start opening loss to Notre Dame and they came out and ran their offense beautifully.
I was really impressed with their sophomore quarterback, Jalen Greene (15-21, 175 yards and a touchdown). On the other hand, for the second year in a row we couldn’t do much against them. It’s back to the drawing board on offense for us.
Patch: Year in, year out, your team plays one of the more difficult non-league schedules. How difficult is that for new varsity players when they take their lumps like in the Serra game?
Morrow: Really our older guys have been playing a schedule like this all along; it’s the 9th graders that sometimes have more trouble, because it’s an eye-opener. We try to communicate to them that they shouldn’t get discouraged and to keep with it.
I love playing teams like Serra. It’s a great challenge and those are the teams you want to play and test yourself against.
Patch: What has been your focus during the off-week?
Morrow: We’re really trying to correct the little things, like getting lined up in the right spots defensively. Improving our communication and concentrating on ball security have been important too.
Patch: Where do you think you can improve offensively?
Morrow: Again, making sure we take care of the ball is the key. We had four turnovers in the Serra game (3 interceptions, 1 fumble.)
If we are going to throw the ball, we need to make sure it’s in a safe place on the field or just throw it away rather than forcing something.
Patch: Stephen Giovatti (55 carries, 247 yards, 2 touchdowns) has been a workhorse for your offense. Who else are you looking to get involved?
Morrow: Stephen had two great games right off the bat [100 yards in each]. He runs hard. We’d like to get a few more big plays and I think Raphael Lawson-Gayle and Brandon Edmond are capable of breaking a big play for us.
Patch: Special teams and defense were cornerstones to last year’s success. How do you feel about each?
Morrow: Our special teams' coverages have been very good. We also have blocked well in the return game, and that’s crucial.
Defensively, we’re getting more healthy up front. Tank Goldman is close to getting his cast off [broken hand] and Quincy Brown is back at practice [strained neck muscle], so we feel great about that.
I think we lost to two really good teams. Loyola is very much improved and Serra should be right at the top near the end of the season. Our kids’ attitudes have been great and I’m looking forward to seeing how we come out Friday.
Editor's Note: Mira Costa's varsity football team is on the field Friday night at home against Chaminade. Game time is 7 p.m. The team begins Bay League play on Oct. 14 at home against West Torrance High. Friday's prep football rankings, according to the Daily Breeze: Serra is at No. 1, Palos Verdes at No. 4, Mira Costa is at No. 8, and West Torrance is No. 10.