Previewing the Top 50 high school football teams in California: No. 14 Oceanside Pirates

SBLive California is previewing the Top 50 high school football teams in the state ahead of the 2020-2021 season. Even with the season on hold, we will continue to highlight the best teams, players and coaches in California. Here’s an inside look at the Oceanside Pirates of the CIF San Diego Section, the No. 14 team in our countdown.

MORE: PRESEASON TOP 50 PREVIEWS

OCEANSIDE TEAM PAGE | 2021 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE

OCEANSIDE HEAD COACH

David Rodriguez, 6th season (40-25)

2019 AT A GLANCE

  • 11-4 overall record
  • 3-3 in Avocado League (T-3rd)
  • Defeated Lincoln 28-10 in San Diego Section Division 1 Championship
  • Lost to Corona Del Mar 14-7 in CIF State D1-A Semifinal game

ALL-SAN DIEGO SECTION DEPARTURES

  • Chris Hunter – OL (First team)
  • Kiki Laie – DL (First team)
  • Jalen Ramsey – LB (First team)
  • Trejan Apodaca – DB (First team)

2021 SCHEDULE

  • Jan. 8 vs. Helix – 7PM – Non League
  • Jan. 15 at Lincoln – 6:30PM – Non League
  • Jan. 22 vs. San Marcos – 7PM – League
  • Jan. 29 at Torrey Pines – 7:15PM – League
  • Feb. 5 vs. Olympian – 7PM – Non League
  • Feb. 12 vs. Mission Hills – 7PM – League
  • Feb. 19 vs. La Costa Canyon – 7PM – League
  • Feb. 26 . Carlsbad – 7PM – League
  • Mar. 5 at Ramona – 7PM – Non League
  • Mar. 12 at El Camino – 7:15PM – League

RETURNING STARTERS

  • 5 on offense
  • 8 on defense

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Kavika Tua (Senior-RB/DB) (5-8, 185)

Coach Rodriguez: “Just an all-around threat, arguably pound for pound our best football player from all three phases. You’ve gotta scheme for him and everyone has for the last three years.”

2019 stats: 2,832 all-purpose yards, 24 total touchdowns, 46 tackles, one interception

Oceanside's Kavika Tua
Oceanside’s Kavika Tua

Jakob Harris (Senior-QB) (6-2, 225)

Coach Rodriguez: “Threw for 2,500 yards and has grown. The biggest part is he’s grown mentally and emotionally which is exciting from the quarterback position.”

2019 stats: 2,443 passing yards and 19 touchdowns

Eric Russell (Senior-DL) (Dickinson State signee) (6-0, 240)

Coach Rodriguez: “Undersized but he’s got the biggest motor and he’s able to battle bigger guys and come out standing on top, so he gives us that presence inside.”

2019 stats: 59 tackles, four sacks, two forced fumbles

Kamron Beachem (Senior-WR/TE) (6-6, 250)

Coach Rodriguez: “He’s grown to 6-6 and 250 but runs like a kid who’s 215. He’s gonna be a matchup problem.”

2019 stats: 551 receiving yards, three touchdowns

Cannon Belew (Senior-DL) (6-2, 225)

Coach Rodriguez: “Another returner who like everyone has grown. (Belew and Russell) will be the terror twins on the defensive line.”

2019 stats: 40 tackles, 3.5 sacks

Shawn Ramsey (Senior-LB) (6-0, 185)

Coach Rodriguez: “Maybe our best open field tackler.”

2019 stats: 75 tackles, two interceptions, one sack

Oceanside’s Shawn and Jalen Ramsey

Tony Galeano (Junior-DB) (5-9, 150)

Coach Rodriguez: “A quiet, confident, lot of ability youngster.”

2019 stats: seven tackles

Tyrell Bellmon (Senior-DB/WR) (5-11, 160)

2019 stats: 508 all-purpose yards, five total touchdowns

Nick Williams (Senior-WR) (6-5, 180)

2019 stats: 303 receiving yards, three touchdowns

IMPACT TRANSFERS

  • McKyle So’oto – 2021 LB (Mission Hills)
  • Jonah Zimmerman – 2022 OL (Tri-City Christian)
  • Jason Mageo – 2022 RB/LB (Tri-City Christian)
  • Joseph Soliz – 2022 WR/DB (Tri-City Christian)

HOW COVID-19 HAS AFFECTED OCEANSIDE FOOTBALL

COVID-19 has affected every high school football team differently. Coach Rodriguez shares how it has impacted Oceanside:

“The moment everything went sideways on everybody back in March, my staff and I made it a point that we have to stay on top of it. So, for myself it’s a daily message on HUDL. (The team) gets a message once or sometimes twice a day and it’s just become a habit for us.”

Luckily, we have a veteran bunch of guys that are wired the right way. We’ve been able to do online stuff, we had a virtual spring football, we kind of copied what the colleges did and created game situations and it’s allowed us to really go through the finer points of the game because we’re always in a race against one another and there’s things that always get thrown to the side. Literally every single conceivable situation special teams wise, offensively, defensively, we’ve been able to cover those things with our guys. With a veteran, mature group they show up and we’re fortunate that we see our guys in person. Granted they’re in pods and small groups but being able to see them has been a real saving grace for our kids and really for our coaches to have that in person accountability.”

“The Denver Broncos had to play a game without a quarterback, what do we do if we’re in that situation? So, we’ve got all these contingencies we’ve been able to build and thankfully our staff and our team have used the team as wisely as we could to plan out all these different scenarios and there are new ones that keep coming up. All the pivoting part of it has made us take the approach of ‘let’s plan this out even if we don’t get the chance to do it’ … let’s figure it out because those who do will be ahead of the game.”

BEST-CASE SCENARIO FOR OCEANSIDE

After taking the San Diego Section Division 1 championship last season, this version of the Pirates are certainly a top contender for San Diego’s Open Division Championship.

MOST REALISTIC SCENARIO

The Pirates biggest question mark is how they’ll be able to work in five new starters on the offensive line. If they can do that, combined with the returners at the skill positions and a defense that remains loaded, Oceanside should be one of the four teams in the Open Division playoff bracket.

COACH SAID

“First off, I hope all of us get a chance to do this. That’s really the biggest thing. If and when we do get a chance, we’re excited for our group. It’s a very talented bunch of skill kids, we virtually return everybody at the skill positions. It’s up front where we’re going to be young and not a lot of experience. We’re gonna be tough and gritty but we lost all five starters up front, so we’ve got a little bit of work to do but luckily we’ve been able to work out thanks to our district and administration.”

“With our group, we went up to Corona Del Mar last year and came within a couple of plays of melting the internet down because you know we weren’t supposed to be in that game. This year’s group, the seniors at least, would’ve loved the chance to at least get that far. With our current situation we’re taking it one game at a time.”

“They’re just so competitive, all of these guys they hate losing even to one another. We could play tic tac toe and it turns into a bare-knuckle battle in terms of just trying to win, which really makes this group unique.”

– Head Coach David Rodriguez

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