ANDERSON – If last year was the year the Big Blue faithful was waiting for, then they’re going to enjoy this season.
The Anderson Cubs are loaded following a Northern Section Division III championship run. Let me repeat that since it’s been more than a decade since that’s been said – The. Cubs. Are. Loaded.
A stout line, a playmaker at tailback, multiple other options on offense, a defense predicated on destroying opponents with their physicality and an old-school minded head coach who thrived in the blue and gold playing for legendary coach Bob Reid? Yeah, it’s going to be a fun year in Anderson.
Head coach: Don Trotter, third season (16-9)
Last season: 10-3 (5-1 in league); Best U-Prep 34-0 in D-III quarterfinals; Beat West Valley 24-21 in D-III semifinals; Lost 55-0 to Sutter in D-III finals.
Since 2004: 66-90. Best 2006 (10-2) with a 7-0 win over Gridley in the Northern Section Division II title game.
Imposing their will
It’s not often a Shasta County team can graduate a player to an NCAA Power 5 conference like the Pac 12 as the Cubs did with Jarrett Kingston, who went to Washington State. But Anderson did, and head coach Don Trotter thinks their line is actually better this season.
“We’re going to impose our will,” Trotter said.
Third-year varsity player Joe Carrillo (6-0, 260) anchors the offensive line at center and is the only returner, Trotter said. Alongside him are Enterprise transfer Alvin Cunningham (5-9, 233), Jorge Jimenez (5-11, 244) and interchangeable tackles Kerian Hunter (6-3, 303), Jamie Cushman (6-4, 294) and Marcus Trotter (6-4, 263). That’s an average of 6-1, 266 pounds. That doesn’t happen often in the Northern Section.
“I think last year (opponents) tried doing the same thing and we might have a better line this year,” said senior Mario Martinez. “I think we’re going to do the same as last year, we’re just going to pound it down everybody’s throats and do what we do.”
It helps to have running back Parker Phillips back, who is the returning leading rusher in the Northern Section after he totaled 1,770 yards and 24 TDs as a junior.
“He’ll lean on his offensive linemen like he did last year,” said Daniel Gilbert, Anderson’s offensive coordinator. “We had the best line in the section last year and same deal this year. Not to take anything away from him but they lead and he follows.”
Is this the year?
Anderson’s last section title was 2006. With the Cubs in the hunt last season, everyone was reminded of that. A blindsiding loss to Sutter in the finals was eye-opening but Anderson feels the drought is going to end.
“We have to be disciplined and keep at our task,” Trotter said. “They have a tendency to get down on themselves and that’s a battle. As soon as they figure out that they can play together, there’s not going to be anyone that can beat us. We’re almost there.”
The only other teams to not win a section title since Anderson last did was Central Valley (2004), Burney (1982) and U-Prep, which started in 2008.
Can dual-QBs really work?
The old adage – if you have two, you have none – doesn’t apply to the Cubs. Both Vaipou Leota and Mike Sherrell have their strengths and are going to see time this season. In fact, Trotter thinks they’ll both play throughout every game.
“(Sherrell) can throw better, (Leota) can run better but they both do it well,” Trotter said. “Mikey Sherrell, he’s the arm, he can throw it, he’s our gunslinger.”
Only one Cub attempted a pass last year while Leota ran the ball 29 times for 166 yards.
As much talk as the offense gets – albeit their stats are more flashy to the average person compared to tackles, sacks and interceptions on defense. But the grit the Cubs bring to the gridiron every week is going to be the difference in earning that section ring.
Junior inside linebacker Cody Crawford (5-10, 220), linebacker Mario Martinez (5-10, 214) and Carrillo (6-0, 260) on the line anchor a defense that is going to be fierce and hold no mercy.
“Those three are our glue right now…we’re going to be very physical,” said assistant coach Randy Gilbert.
Defensive back Marquice Crowell is another name people should be familiar with after intercepting three passes in his sophomore campaign last season.
Anderson Cubs (10-3 last season)
Date – Opponent (Last year’s record)
Aug. 24 – at Red Bluff (4-7)
Aug. 31 – at Orland (4-7)
Sept. 7 – BYE
Sept. 14 – vs. Oroville (3-7)
Sept. 21 – vs. Las Plumas (5-5)
Sept. 28 – at Gridley (9-3)
Oct. 5 – vs. West Valley (6-5)
Oct. 12 – at Lassen (4-6)
Oct. 19 – at Central Valley (0-10)
Oct. 26 – vs. Corning (6-5)
Nov. 2 – vs. Yreka (4-6)